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Reign Report: Pushing for the playoffs

With just seven games remaining, Seattle Reign faces third-place Orlando Pride. Every point matters at this stage.

Photo by MikeRussellFoto

What You’ll Watch

Seattle Reign FC hit the road once again and will travel to Orlando, Fla., to take on the Orlando Pride. This will be the third and final meeting between the two clubs. The previous two encounters all ended in draws, 1-1 on April 28 and 0-0 on June 3.

The Pride are third place in the standings with a record of 8-6-4 (28 points in 18 games played; 1.5 ppg) and Reign FC sit just above them in second place with a record of 8-4-5 (29 points in 17 games played; 1.7 ppg). Last time out, Orlando defeated Utah Royals FC 2-1 on the road and Reign FC lost 1-0 to the Chicago Red Stars, also on the road.

Seattle is 1-1-4 all time against Orlando, with eight goals scored and seven conceded.

A Look at the Enemy

Last Five: W-L-W-L-L with six goals scored and 10 conceded

Leading Goal Scorer: Sydney Leroux, six goals

Assist Leader: Christine Nairn, four

Injury Report, Suspensions and International Duty

Orlando

OUT: None

QUESTIONABLE: Rachel Hill (right groin strain)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Ashlyn Harris (USA), Alex Morgan (USA)

Seattle

OUT: Elizabeth Addo (right knee strain), Yael Averbuch (illness)

QUESTIONABLE: Rumi Utsugi (left calf strain)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Allie Long (USA), Megan Rapinoe (USA)

Match Officials

REFEREE: Canada CSA (TBD)

AR1: Kathryn Nesbitt

AR2: Canada CSA (TBD)

4th: Daniel Gutierrez

What to Watch

Orlando matches up very similarly to Seattle, as both teams rely on possession and build-up rather than direct soccer and balls sent over the top. There’s a reason matches between the two clubs often result in draws. Orlando also is a physical team — matching their possession with an aggressive approach to winning back the ball. Seattle matched up well with them physically in their last two meetings and will need to do it again in humid weather conditions.

Orlando averages 431 passes per game, while Seattle is slightly higher with a 437 average. While Seattle likes to build play from slightly deeper on the field, Orlando’s attack is developed higher up the field — primarily through Marta, who took awhile to settle into the season but is now running the show in Orlando.

Seattle and Orlando will be without a few key players, as the U.S. Women’s National Team called Megan Rapinoe, Allie Long, Ashlyn Harris, and Alex Morgan into an early camp to prepare for the Tournament of Nations. That means former Reign FC goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer will once again be protecting Orlando’s net.

Both teams traditionally line up in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation. Orlando often deploys two midfielders to work off each other and shield the back line, and Australian international Alanna Kennedy has been one of Orlando’s best players this season in that role. The rest of the midfield has featured a lot more rotation, although Dani Weatherholt seems to have locked down one of the other spots in the midfield. She is skilled in breaking up play and looking for quick, short passes to her teammates. Weatherholt leads all Pride midfielders with 813 touches, a passing accuracy of 84.8 percent, and a tackle success rate of 73.3 percent.

The Pride also likes to use its outside backs in the attack, with right back Poliana leading the team in possession and Carson Pickett leading the team in crosses.

While Orlando is dangerous in the attack and has a number of scoring threats — including leading scorer Sydney Leroux, Marta, Chioma Ubogagu, and Rachel Hill — they have struggled on the defensive end. The Pride have given up the third most goals this year, behind only the Houston Dash and Sky Blue. While Orlando often dominates matches, they seem to shut down at key times and suddenly find themselves chasing the game. The Pride are especially vulnerable with cutting runs in behind their centerbacks, which means that Jodie Taylor has a real opportunity to score a few goals if she makes the kind of runs she’s made all season — and finishes her chances.

With just seven games remaining, every point matters at this stage. Orlando sits just under Seattle on the league table, with one more match played. Getting three points on Saturday would be a huge boost for Seattle’s push to the playoffs.

Quick Keys

  • Don’t fall asleep on set pieces: Alanna Kennedy is really dangerous on corner kicks and set pieces, with the ability to sneak into the box and get her head on the ball.
  • Be patient: Orlando doesn’t give up too many early goals and is fairly organized defensively. But the team has holes, and Seattle needs to be patient until they find them.
  • Score goals without Pinoe: This is a game that could truly show what the Reign are capable of without Megan Rapinoe on the field. She has really been the linchpin of Seattle’s attack, but the team has the scoring threats elsewhere on the field.

How to Watch

Date/Time: Saturday, July 21 @ 12:30 PM PT (broadcast starts); 1 PM PT kickoff

Location: Orlando City Stadium — Orlando, FL

TV: Lifetime

Streaming: MyLifetime.com, nwslsoccer.com (international)