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Reign FC close regular season with 2-2 draw at Orlando Pride

Result means Reign FC are the 4th seed in the playoffs where they’ll face the defending champs.

Nikita Taparia

The 2019 NWSL regular season came to its end this weekend, and the playoff-bound Reign FC finished it with a road trip to Exploria Stadium to take on the Orlando Pride.

A win for Reign FC would have kept the possibility alive of them jumping over rival Portland Thorns in the standings and securing the third seed for the NWSL Playoffs. However, the legendary Marta had something to say in the closing minutes to make the match a 2-2 draw.

The hosts got on the scoreboard first in the 24th minute when Rachel Hill received a beautiful lob pass from Claire Emslie and ran past a Reign FC back line caught sleeping to slot the ball past Reign FC goalkeeper Casey Murphy.

Reign FC seemed to wake up from the goal and responded in strong fashion.

They got their equalizer in the 34th minute when a kick out by Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was collected by defender Steph Catley, who sent in one of her signature crosses and it found Darian Jenkins in mid-hop to head it past Harris’ right for her fourth goal on the season.

Seven minutes later, Reign FC got their second goal in the first half when midfielder Rumi Utsugi sent in a long ball that you didn’t think wouldn’t be caught by one of her teammates, yet forward Jodie Taylor was able to muscle through and off Orlando defender Alanna Kennedy to collect the ball and beat Harris. Taylor’s 41st minute goal was her fifth on the season.

The second half saw Reign’s quality dip amidst some chippiness by both sides. Reign were unable to maintain possession to continue the pressure and attack in pursuit of a third goal. Orlando, to their credit, came out of the halftime break the better side and their pressure resulted in Reign getting at best three scarce looks on Orlando’s goal.

That effort from Orlando would be rewarded in the 86th minute when Marta caught a headed clearance on the volley to skim it past Murphy to equalize.

Orlando almost had a look on a match-winner when Marta went upper left, but Murphy was just better with a surefire NWSL Save of the Week nominee.

And with that, the 2019 NWSL regular season is over, with Reign FC splitting the points with Orlando Pride.

It might be hard to believe, perhaps impossible, but despite all of the injuries that fell on the squad in addition to in-season departures because of the FIFA World Cup, Reign FC aren’t done just yet.

They have the NWSL Playoffs.

Vlatko Andonovski and his squad may not be happy to let a victory slip away on their final regular season match. If you’re a glass half-full person, you could view it as better they get that second-half performance out of their system now. The next 90 minutes Reign FC will be playing, they’ll have to be perfect or their season will end once again at the semifinal round.

Reign FC’s next match is at the NWSL Playoff Semifinal against the defending NWSL Champions, North Carolina Courage, at Cary, North Carolina. Kickoff for that match is scheduled for Sunday, October 20 with the ESPN2 broadcast starting at 10:30 AM PST.

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