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Reignbow Reflections: A team-earned 3 points

Late-match heroics finally won the game, but Seattle put in 90 minutes of dominance against Portland.

MikeRussellFoto / Sounder at Heart

Seattle Reign FC’s thrilling 1-0 win over rivals Portland Thorns FC was a complete team performance from the home side, who held Portland to zero shots on goal and dominated play on both sides of the field — outpassing the Thorns by 138 passes, putting nine shots on target, and maintaining 58.6% of possession throughout the match.

While Portland continued to bend and bend throughout the match, it felt like they perhaps wouldn’t break thanks to the heroic goalkeeping of Adrianna Franch, who had eight saves. Then, in the 89th minute, that breakthrough finally came, as Jodie Taylor slotted in her fourth goal of the season.

That goal was a perfect example of the overall team performance Seattle put on display, both on offense and defense. Let’s rewind and breakdown that goal, and appreciate all the little things that happened to make it possible.

The play starts after Jasmyne Spencer skillfully one-touches a ball played to her, getting it right to Jodie Taylor’s feet on the right side of the field.

Spencer had just entered the match and was asked to be an impact player in the 88th minute of the game. That’s not an easy task, but she did just that — sparking this final attack that got Reign FC it’s long-awaited goal. It’s a good reminder that subs can truly change games, no matter how long they are on the field.

Taylor then lets the ball roll across her body, and dribbles it into the center of the field. She’s still far away from goal, but by moving it centrally, she pulls defenders and creates width for Megan Rapinoe and Spencer. That opens it up for a simple pass to Rapinoe at the corner of the 18-yard box.

Rapinoe takes it to the endline and whips the ball on the ground toward the six-yard box, where Taylor simply has to tap it into the goal.

Easy, right? Sure, but that goal doesn’t happen without three very important things. Let’s watch that final sequence one more time and take a look at what went right.

First, after two Portland defenders cut off her preferred option to cut inside at the top of the box, Rapinoe takes one touch toward the endline. She probably had a chance to whip the ball in right then, but Rapinoe sensed that she could still separate herself further from Thorns defender Ellie Carpenter. She takes one extra touch to gain slightly more space and gives a little swivel of the hips to put her defender off balance. It’s a veteran move that could have certainly turned out worse, but Rapinoe’s instincts were right on this time.

Take a look at and appreciate that run from Bev Yanez. It’s easy to miss when watching the ball move between Rapinoe and Taylor. Yanez runs toward Rapinoe and starts cutting inside when she hits the top of the box. When she sees Rapinoe still has the ball, instead of staying still and occupying space, Yanez moves toward the near post. That pulls two defenders in her direction, opening up the space that Taylor then fills. That goal probably doesn’t happen without Bev’s movement.

Finally, Taylor makes a subtle but important move to get herself free. She trails Yanez in her run, almost shadowing her, then takes one small step back. At the same time, Thorns midfielder Celeste Boureille starts to follow Yanez, then opts to mark the space between her and Taylor where she thinks Rapinoe will place the ball. By Taylor taking that slight step back, Boureille no longer sees exactly where she is on the field and the space she has behind her.

Pinoe perfectly places that pass, and Taylor pokes it in. 1-0 Reign FC.

It took just 11 seconds from the time Spencer one-touched the ball to Taylor to the ball hitting the back of the net, but a lot happened in those seconds to make the goal possible. Talk about a well-executed team goal.

Here are a few other observations from the rivalry win.

The evolution of Elizabeth Addo

It was a few games into the season before Elizabeth Addo got her first minutes with Reign FC. Until then, she was a relative unknown who had put up effective numbers for her club team in Sweden and the Ghanaian national team, but had yet to prove herself in the physical, fast-paced NWSL.

The second Addo stepped onto the field, Reign fans could see that she was special. With technical skill on the ball and great hold-up play, Addo brought something new to the team. Against Portland, she showed even greater versatility. Addo had previously been filling in at central midfield for the injured Jess Fishlock, but this time was asked to play right attacking forward in Vlatko Andonovski’s 4-3-3. On Saturday, she was a key link in possession, had a team-high four tackles, managed to get two shots off, and took on additional defensive duties to help prevent Portland from putting early balls into the box.

“She was dangerous when the ball came near to her, she was able to protect us first and foremost and not lose the ball,” Andonovski said after the match. “She was able to eliminate the first press, the first defender and opened up the game for us, which made us a little more dangerous.”

While Addo could still benefit from playing the ball a little quicker, she continues to find her footing more and more every match and should be a key contributor as the regular season winds down.

Defensive consistency

Outside of that struggle against North Carolina, Seattle did not give up a single goal in June. While the team has been on somewhat of a scoring drought, the defense continues to keep its shape. Against Portland, the midfield trio of Allie Long, Rumi Utsugi, and Bev Yanez were nearly flawless in cutting off balls into Christine Sinclair and preventing Lindsey Horan from being a playmaker. Horan came into the match averaging nearly 60 passes a game, and she only had 36 against Seattle. She also had almost 30 fewer touches than normal — a testament to the connected midfield and Yanez’s pressure higher up the field.

The backline was also organized, and aside from two crosses that were poorly marked, they gave the Thorns very little to work with offensively. There are going to be games where Seattle will have to grind out a 1-0 win. If the defense continues to deliver, it certainly lightens the load for those days where the team isn’t having as much luck in front of goal.

That tifo!

If you’ve been to a Seattle Reign match this year, you’ve probably noticed that the Royal Guard, Reign FC’s supporters group, has been killing it. From orchestrating chants that celebrate Jess Fishlock’s 100th NWSL match, to an entertaining band that provides awesome surround sound at matches, to coordinating viewing parties with the club and Atlantic Crossing, the group has been much more noticeable this season.

They stepped up their game even further this weekend, unveiling this awesome “Stronger Things” tifo before the match. So that’s how Pinoe is so dominant? Designed by Amy Camber, who has been doing comics for the club this year, it is both a great theme and incredibly well executed. Well done, Royal Guard!


This weekend, Seattle will be looking for redemption against the Houston Dash after losing in the last seconds to them earlier in June. But if the team puts in another consistent performance like they did against the Thorns, there’s virtually no team that will be able to contain them for 90 minutes.

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