It’s Friday night soccer action for Reign FC as they hit the road once again. The destination this time was Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah as they took on the Utah Royals FC.
The timeless clash between Vlatko Andonovski and Laura Harvey once again favors Andonovski as Jess Fishlock and Ifeoma Onumonu scored goals within five minutes of each other to defeat Harvey’s side.
The victory though comes with a heavy price as a second half injury to Fishlock has a club already wrought with injuries and their fans on edge.
Early on into the first half, Reign FC looked like they were continuing their game of patience that was effective against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday. Whatever they were seeing in reading Utah’s low block was something easy to decipher as in the 30th minute, midfielder Jess Fishlock claimed her third goal in her third straight match.
Hobbs & Shaw? Nah scratch that.— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) June 29, 2019
Bethany Balcer & @JessFishlock is the real action duo this summer.
Here's them combining to strike first in the 30th minute for @ReignFC against Utah Royals FC. #UTAvRFC #UTAvSEA pic.twitter.com/Geeti6H5ky
Fishlock & Bethany Balcer worked together to enter Utah’s 18-yard box and it was Fishlock to send in a smooth, low curler past Utah’s Nicole Barnhart.
Reign FC fans barely had time to come off that high when five minutes later, week 10 NWSL Player of the Week forward Ifeoma Onumonu claimed Reign FC’s second goal. It started with Fishlock taking the ball from the right flank and going about 20 yards into the middle of Utah’s defensive third, drawing all of their defenders. This allowed Onumonu to go unmarked and Fishlock saw it and Onumonu had a gift-wrapped 1 v 1 on Barnhart and the rest is history. The goal in the 35h minute marks Onumonu’s second goal on the season for Reign FC. Keep in mind Onumonu signed with Reign FC last month as a National Team Replacement Player and now is a Supplemental Roster Player after being waived by Portland Thorns FC.
In on goal and easy work for @ify_on22 to double @ReignFC's lead. #UTAvSEA pic.twitter.com/p5C4xgfEs2— NWSL (@NWSL) June 29, 2019
In the second half, Reign FC looked to continue the rhythm they set in the first half and claim a third goal, possibly more. However the second half storyline and potentially ramifications for the rest of the season was the injury to Fishlock.
Fishlock went down in the 51st minute with an injury to left leg and had to be stretchered off. Addison Steiner made her second appearance for the club, replacing Fishlock. We obviously don’t know the nature of her injury and the severity, but as it was happening on the broadcast, it was clear based on her and teammate’s reactions, it wasn’t good.
Updates on Fishlock’s injury will come once the club makes them available.
The injury could have brought down their spirits, but Reign FC were able to maintain their focus and stick with their game plan of hogging the ball and make Utah chase. Utah’s leading goalscorer Amy Rodriguez was virtually non-existent tonight.
Utah had two chances to get a goal, but Reign FC goalkeeper Casey Murphy put in another performance that’s going to make it really tough for head coach Vlatko Andonovski to decide who is his first choice goalkeeper each week.
In the 70th minute, Murphy put in, let’s be honest, what should be the front runner for NWSL Save of the Week, with a save with her face. As the saying goes, goalkeepers use every part of their body to block the shot.
Hey @NWSL, @ReignFC's @CaseyMurph has your Save of the Week right here. #UTAvRFC #UTAvSEA pic.twitter.com/W3kAxvuYVt— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) June 29, 2019
Utah’s other prime chance wouldn’t come until four minutes into eight minutes of stoppage when Katie Stengel got a looping header on, but Murphy was right there to claim it.
90+4' Utah's Katie Stengel with a header that is no problem for Casey Murphy to get her hands on. #UTAvRFC #UTAvSEA pic.twitter.com/2VjUZBITMB— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) June 29, 2019
Reign FC almost had a third goal on the night when Balcer unleashed a long distance rocket that forced Barnhart to go all out and make her own submission for Save of the Week considerations in the 80th minute.
80' If Bethany Balcer claimed Reign FC's third goal here, we would have given her a new nickname in Betty Bomber. #UTAvRFC #UTAvSEA pic.twitter.com/F54GIDVpzL— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) June 29, 2019
The win makes it their second win on the road this season, and second back-to-back wins. It also elevates Reign FC up to second place on the league table, with 17 points.
Reign FC are now halfway through their month and a half-long road trip spell. Next up for them is a familiar foe called the Portland Thorns FC. July 4 may be America’s birthday, but the fireworks will continue on into the following night when the rivals write another installment to their version of the Cascadia rivarly. Reign FC at Portland Thorns FC is scheduled to kick off on Friday, July 5 at 8 PM PST.