Let’s try that again.
Last night, Reign FC were supposed to take on the Chicago Red Stars at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois. Mother Nature had other plans and dumped more snow than was forecast in the days leading up to Saturday night. So the match was rescheduled to Sunday morning, and here we are. And what a difference SeatGeek Stadium was today compared to last night.
Despite the rescheduling to Sunday, the day belonged to Chicago.
Reign FC started the action almost instantly from kickoff as Bethany Balcer, in her second NWSL start, tried a shot from distance that forced Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to knock the ball over the crossbar.
However, it was Chicago that claimed the first goal. In the 13th minute, Casey Short fired off a shot/cross and Reign FC goalkeeper Lydia Williams was caught in no man’s land, though you can argue lack of pressuring Short allowed her to casually get into the box and get the look.
The rest of the first half saw both sides trade possession in each other’s half. Reign FC lacked finishing on their runs. Chicago had more dangerous looks, capped by the world’s most dangerous (and best) forward Sam Kerr having this shot, but Lydia Williams got the better of her fellow Australia teammate.
In the second half, Chicago doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Yuki Nagasato had a look at an open goal because of Kerr’s influence causing Williams to come up high to stop her run.
Reign FC looked to have claimed one goal back in the 60th minute when Jodie Taylor got a chip in over Alyssa Naeher, but it was cleared off the line by Chicago’s Katie Naughton. From this angle, one could argue it completely crossed the line, but until the league installs goal-line technology, we’ll never know.
After that, the second half belonged to Chicago, as they were the better team. Their passes connected with each other and their runs were dangerous — they weren’t resting on the two-goal cushion. Williams stepped up when she needed to deny them another goal, but Reign FC could only withstand the pressure for so long, as finally Red Stars got their third in the 89th minute.
The match would finish Red Stars 3, Reign FC 0, and it was a well-deserved victory for Chicago. Simply put for Reign FC’s performance today, it was not good. It’s only a “what if” they had played last night as scheduled ... would they have put in a better outing or are the Chicago Red Stars are just that much better than Reign FC right now?
Yes, you can say sometimes teams can just put a clunker of a performance, and surely Reign FC are not immune to that. Perhaps the rescheduling put the team out of sync that they just couldn’t get back at halftime. The bigger questions to ask of this club is when injuries hit this team, boy do they stink and what a strain on depth it puts on them. No doubt, Reign FC’s attack would look a lot sharper and dangerous if Megan Rapinoe, Jess Fishlock, Steph Catley, Jasmyne Spencer, and Darian Jenkins are out there, but with national teams starting to call in players for the World Cup in the coming weeks, a full strength and ideal Reign FC starting eleven is just going to be something we’ll just have to wait for later this season to see.
If there is a positive from today’s performance it is that Balcer is looking more comfortable and confident out there, as she did give it an effort to lead Reign FC’s attack in hopes of getting a goal.
Reign FC’s next match sees them on the road once again as they travel to Maryland SoccerPlex to face the Washington Spirit. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at 4 PM PST.