A week after some last-minute magic to take the victory against rival Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC were back at Memorial Stadium, hosting Houston Dash and looking to avenge their loss to the Dash back in May down in Houston. After giving up an early goal, Seattle found its momentum and coasted to a 3-1 win.
Houston would strike first in the 12th minute when defender Amber Brooks connected on a corner kick from Sofia Huerta. Brooks was able to slide through the middle of the box, uncontested by Seattle defender Megan Oyster, and head in the opening goal.
Advantage: the @HoustonDash. @abrooks22 scores off the corner kick to earn the lead on the road!#SEAvHOU | #NWSL pic.twitter.com/RPXh2dtI8g— NWSL (@NWSL) July 8, 2018
Seattle would try to respond from the early strike by Houston and created a couple chances that forced Houston’s goalkeeper Jane Campbell to move and collect the ball, but ultimately weren’t finding the solution to unlocking Houston’s defense.
That is, until the 38th minute, when a Megan Rapinoe throw-in found forward Jodie Taylor in the 18-yard box. With a cheeky touch, Taylor dropped in a teardrop goal over Campbell to draw the game level — and it would prove to be the momentum swinger going into halftime.
From a throw-in, Jodie Taylor connects with it and with a velvet smooth touch just lobs it over Houston's Jane Campbell to equalize the game here! #SEAvHOU pic.twitter.com/QkFTMMINYd— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) July 8, 2018
The second half was all Seattle.
From the restart, Seattle put the pressure on Houston, and it wouldn’t take long for the reward to come. In the 55th minute, forward Elizabeth Addo was chopped down in the box to win a penalty. Rapinoe would line up to take it, and history was made …
There is a new queen that sits on the throne for all-time goals for @ReignFC and it's @mPinoe.— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) July 8, 2018
Here's goal 33 for Seattle's #15. pic.twitter.com/yAMWZV05Fx
With the goal, Rapinoe passed Kim Little as Seattle’s all-time leading goal scorer. After the match, she reflected on the milestone.
“I love playing for this club. Being able to play with one team this whole time and build something like that is really cool. Getting it in a game that mattered and going up after going down one early on, that’s more important. Yeah, it’s kind of a cool mantle thing for now,” said Rapinoe, but stressed the complete team performance and victory was far more paramount.
The seeing eye test will tell you it was a thorough performance by Seattle. Three goals is always going to grab your attention, but the defensive effort by Seattle shined just as well. The back line was able to silence the danger potential in Houston’s attackers Kealia Ohai and Rachel Daly. Seattle Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski attributed their response to going down a goal to the team just sticking to their game plan.
“I thought it was a difficult game to play and I told our players that these are games that we have to be very precise and very accurate in everything you do. They set up a low block and it’s really hard to break in, but I’m just happy that we were patient and we kept trying the things we worked on. Kept looking for those pockets, those combinations for players to combine, and I’m glad in the end it worked out.”
The victory was solidified once again by Megan Rapinoe doing Megan Rapinoe things, as in the 85th minute she’d claim her second assist on the night with a through ball that had the perfect weight to fall in front of midfielder Allie Long. Long latched on to it with a volley in the box to seal the full three points.
Add an assist to Megan Rapinoe's record-breaking night as she sends in this through ball that Allie Long finishes to claim Seattle's third. #SEAvHOU pic.twitter.com/4EAQEZ1c1U— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) July 8, 2018
To be able to follow up the emotional win over Portland Thorns FC a week ago with a decisive victory against Houston, Seattle could just be starting to hit their stride, especially with two matches coming up next week and the bigger picture of jockeying for position to get one of the coveted four spots for the NWSL Playoffs.
“We always try to focus on just that next game, but we know where we are on the table. We don’t want to look at anyone else, just focus on ourselves and if we do that, we’ll be fine. I think the second you take your eyes off yourself and you’re worried about other teams — we just need to handle our business and we’ll be fine,” said Long post-match.
The win keeps Seattle second in the league table with 26 points through 15 matches played. Orlando Pride and Chicago Red Stars are third and fourth with 25 points each, and Portland Thorns FC are just outside the top four spots with 23 points. It’s getting close, folks.
And the turnaround for the next one is a short one. Seattle Reign FC remain at home for their next match and it’s the long-anticipated return of Laura Harvey to Memorial Stadium, this time as coach of Utah Royals FC. Kickoff of the second encounter between Seattle and Utah is scheduled for Wednesday, July 11, 7:30 p.m. from Memorial Stadium and will be broadcast on go90.com.