On Saturday, Reign FC embark on their final match of the regular season with a road trip to Orlando. Their game kicks of at 4:30 PM PT and will stream on Yahoo! Sports for U.S. viewers and ESPN platforms for those outside the U.S.
The Orlando Pride currently sit in last place (4-16-3, 15 points), while the Reign qualified for the playoffs and are 4th on the league table (10-6-7, 37 points). A Reign FC win — and a Portland Thorns draw or loss — could propel the Reign into third place before the playoffs.
Here are five things we hope to see this weekend.
1. A goal to close out the game
Reign FC came out firing against the Orlando Pride that last time the two sides faced off. They went up 3-0 in the first 17 minutes of the match, which was then delayed for 2 hours due to lightning. The Pride struggle to hold on late, and the Reign have struggled in the past to stand firm for the final 15 minutes of games. Regardless of the scoreline heading into the second half, we’d love to see the Reign find a way to keep the pressure going. The Pride have conceded 15 goals between minutes 76 and 90, so they are vulnerable to late defensive mistakes. Some goal-scoring momentum for the Reign heading into the playoffs sure wouldn’t have me complaining.
2. Get on the end of Rapinoe’s crosses
Megan Rapinoe’s return to the team has made their attack so much stronger. It’s created more space for Jodie Taylor to thrive and forced opponents to change how they defend the team. One thing that hasn’t happened quite yet, however, is a goal from all of the great balls Pinoe has whipped into the box. Against Sky Blue a few weeks ago, she created 10 chances. TEN! In the first half against Portland, she had a number of promising crosses and corner kicks that were just missed. Let’s reward Pinoe to close out the regular season.
3. Another clean sheet
The Reign held Portland scoreless and are now heading to Orlando, a team that despite scoring just 22 goals this season has managed to put the ball into the net twice against the Reign. The Reign defensive shape will be tested — as both Megan Oyster and Rebecca Quinn are out injured — but they have the talent to keep the Pride away from goal.
4. Break the Pride down with high energy
The Pride have struggled under pressure this year, while the Reign like to force opponents into traps and then pounce. With plenty of players willing to press hard and often, the Reign should get a few strong looks from these turnovers. The key for the Reign — and something they’ll need to carry into the postseason — is to finish the chances they’ll get when they pressure the Pride into mistakes.
5. Play for more than soccer
Earlier this season, Pride defender Toni Pressley was diagnosed with breast cancer. She took time off to get surgery and recover, but is already back training with the team and will be available for selection. On Saturday, the Pride will host their first-ever Breast Cancer Awareness Match in honor of Pressley, which will feature pre-match tops that will be auctioned off and limited-edition merchandise available for purchase — with a portion of proceeds going to Libby’s Legacy, a nonprofit selected by Pressley. Complementing the match is an online league-wide auction that began on Sept. 11 and closed Thursday night — raising more than $35,000.
Predicted Starting Lineup
Forwards: Megan Rapinoe, Jodie Taylor, Bethany Balcer
Midfield: Rosie White, Allie Long, Kristen McNabb
Defense: Steph Catley, Lauren Barnes, Celia, Theresa Nielsen
Goalkeeper: Casey Murphy
OUT: Taylor Smith (SEI – Right Knee), Jasmyne Spencer (SEI – Left Knee), Michelle Betos (SEI – Right Achilles), Jaycie Johnson (SEI – Right Knee), Scout Watson ( SEI – Concussion), Jessica Fishlock (SEI – Left Knee), Rebecca Quinn (Right Hamstring), Megan Oyster (Left Knee), Beverly Yanez (Suspension)
OUT: Emily van Egmond (Left Ankle Surgery), Alex Morgan (Right Knee), Ali Krieger (Right Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Dani Weatherholt (Right Ankle), Shelina Zadorsky (Left Thigh)