After a disappointing loss at home last Sunday, OL Reign hit the road for the next match. Tonight, the scene was Red Bull Arena as OL Reign took on NY/NJ Gotham FC. Former Reign player Ifeoma Onumonu would score the game’s only goal in the 13th minute off a Caprice Dydasco corner as OL Reign lose their second straight match, 0-1.
WHAT WORKED: ROSE LAVELLE IS AN IMPACT PLAYER
Tonight was the second game for Lavelle, and fans once again saw how good she can be for OL Reign’s midfield and attack once she gets fully integrated. There were the breakaway runs where she glided down the field with the ball to create an attack. There was her effort to connect on a Sofia Huerta cross. OL Reign head coach Farid Benstiti after the match spoke glowingly of Lavelle’s second start and how she’s progressing with the team. It’s only a matter of time before Lavelle finds the back of the net while wearing an OL Reign shirt —and when that moment comes, it could be a catalyst for the whole team becoming an offensive juggernaut.
WHAT WORKED: SUBS PROVIDING NEEDED SPARK
In the 59th minute, forward Bethany Balcer and midfielder Angelina entered the match as Reign’s second set of subs. And instantly the duo gave the team some energy in the attack to complement the efforts of Rapinoe and Lavelle.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: BAN POSTS
In the seventh minute, Megan Rapinoe got a shot on target that deflected off the post, perhaps too much as Leah Pruitt ended up over-running the deflection, otherwise she taps it in for the opening goal. Gotham would score six minutes later from a corner kick, but if the deflection goes another way, Rapinoe or Pruitt get the goal. It’s all about angles, and sometimes, the funny angle can be that excruciating for one team, and an opportunity for another. Funny game, soccer is.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: FINISHING
OL Reign didn’t end up on the scoresheet, but it sure wasn’t for lack of trying. After conceding in the 13th minute, Gotham looked to be poised to control the rest of the match as they concentrated the buildup of their attack through Midge Purce, working second-year player Madison Hammond. It looked very much like the second-year player was getting a lesson from a US national team mainstay, but to Hammond’s and the rest of Reign defense’s credit, it was just that one goal they allowed. Trying to claim an equalizer, however, was the most frustrating thing for them tonight.
Much like the first half in last Sunday’s match against Washington Spirit, OL Reign created chances. They just couldn’t finish them and perhaps more than last week, that old saying of, “Soccer is a funny game like that,” hit them bad tonight. There was Rapinoe’s shot in the seventh minute, that Pruitt could have cleaned up. The aforementioned Huerta to Lavelle cross. Dani Weatherholt had a shot off a second chance in the box that hit teammate Lavelle, as much as Lavelle was trying to not be in the way. Rapinoe had a free kick late in the game that just went wide. The Reign definitely tried to get their equalizer, and throughout the second half knocked on Gotham’s door. And just for inexplicable reasons, those chances did not find the back of the net.
And with a prolific goal-scorer set to arrive in a few weeks, all it takes is just one goal to be the spark — and paired with the potential of other attackers, the goal potential for OL Reign could make frustrating losses like tonight a thing of the past.
Bethany Balcer and Jess Fishlock sure aren’t sounding any alarm bells after tonight.
lol at people doubting us in game 4 of a 24 game season. talk to me on november 20— Bethany Balcer (@bethanybalcer) June 6, 2021
Last two games we’ve taken losses when they codve / should’ve been wins.— Jessica Fishlock MBE (@JessFishlock) June 6, 2021
We learn .. we get back to work .. we make them become wins.
Long ass season everyone. Don’t you worry about us.
Great atmosphere in the arena tonight.
See ya after the break .
JESS FISHLOCK INJURY UPDATE
It was a short night for the midfielder. After a shanked ball in the 48th minute, Fishlock went down and was quickly replaced by Dani Weatherholt. In his post-match press conference, Benstiti said it was a hamstring issue for Fishlock. Benstiti said it had been tweaked early in the night and Fishlock tried to gut it through. Benstiti was hopeful that the week off will provide the rest needed and it was encouraging that Fishlock was able to walk off the field entirely on her own. So perhaps the early exit was as much a final warning to address it now and not risk more serious damage.
“It’s a good problem to have that we’re creating these chances but not finishing them. It’d be a bigger problem if we’re not creating chances.”
That’s what captain Lauren Barnes said after the match about the team knocking on Gotham’s door but unable to find the breakthrough tonight. Conceding the lone goal in the match is something they can work on cleaning up, but she was quick to praise the team for surviving the momentum shift Gotham had for the remainder of the first half and putting the pressure on them to try and find that equalizing goal and perhaps a go-ahead goal the rest of the night. As it’s commonly said in soccer, all a forward needs is that one breakthrough to be a catalyst, and as long as OL Reign are creating quality chances, soon enough they will be rewarded with quality goals.
OL Reign like the rest of the league is off next week because of the FIFA international window. Nicole Momiki (Japan), Quinn (Canada), Megan Rapinoe (United States), Rose Lavelle (United States), and Angelina (Brazil) have been called to their respective national teams for the international match window. OL Reign returns to the field on Saturday, June 19 as they’re back on the road, traveling to North Carolina to take on the North Carolina Courage. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 PM PT and will be broadcast on CBS. That’s right, OL Reign will be on a big, regular TV channel next time you’ll see them!