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Match Preview: OL Reign at Houston Dash

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After a thrilling win at Lumen Field, OL Reign start a three-game road trip.

MikeRussellFoto / Sounder at Heart

After a thrilling win at Lumen Field against their rivals, OL Reign have a quick turnaround on the road. Their Wednesday night match against the Houston Dash kicks off a three-game road trip over the next 11 days. The game begins at 5 PM PT and will air on CBS Sports Network and stream on Twitch for international viewers.

Just four points separate the two teams. OL Reign has an 8-7-1 record and sit in third place (25 points), while the Houston Dash are 6-6-3 and in eighth place (21 points).

The Dash have only lost one game at home this year, while the Reign will be looking to improve their 2-5-0 road record. They’ll likely do that with a bit of roster rotation in the middle of a busy week of matches. As the team winds down from Sunday’s record-setting day, here are a few things you need to know about the Reign’s mid-week opponent.

Houston’s Formation

Houston lines up in a 4-3-3 formation and doesn’t deviate much from that approach. Their backline is anchored by centerbacks Megan Oyster and Katie Naughton, although the club just acquired U.S. national team defender Abby Dahlkemper for the year — which might lead to more rotation. Canadian Allysha Chapman and Haley Hanson start as fullbacks.

In the midfield, Canadian Sophie Schmidt anchors the line, while Shea Groom and Kristie Mewis round out the midfield. Mewis is the team’s primary creator — and often takes their corner kicks and set pieces — while the tenacious Groom is the kind of pest that you love to have on your team and hate to play against.

Up top, Veronica Latsko and Nichelle Prince have started most recently on the flanks, with England international Rachel Daly in the center forward position. Jasmyne Spencer has also been used as a wide forward — and scored against the Reign in their previous outing in Houston. Prince is fast and is often a target out wide in transition. She’s good on the dribble and is always looking to whip balls in for Daly, who is lethal in the box. When they are in sync, it’s scary.

What to Watch

  • Containing Dash on the counter: The Dash are a team that take advantage of transitional moments. And the Houston climate (hot and muggy) and field (large) suit them well in this style of play. That means they can often catch teams napping — and only need one moment of transition. They average just over 9 shots per game, but convert nearly 13% of those chances compared to 11% for the Reign. The Reign are going to have to be turned on for all 90 minutes. “For a team like us who like to have possession of the ball, we have to be switched on for the whole game,” said OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey. “Over the last couple of years, Houston has really solidified themselves as a transitional team, who can really hurt you in that moment. I think that’s what makes them the most dangerous – how deadly they are in the transitional moments.”
  • Winning duels in the box: The Reign recently took down the Dash 5-1, and Bethany Balcer winning balls in the box was a big reason for that. If the Reign can win the duels in their attacking third — and in particular in the penalty area — they have a good chance of putting a few more in the back of the net on Wednesday. On the other end, nearly one-third of Houston’s goals (6) have come from headers. The Reign backline is going to have to be tidy when they defend against set pieces and crosses.
  • A consistent performance: In her pre-match press conference, Harvey praised the team for their high-emotion wins against Portland and Gotham, when they came from two goals behind to get three points. But this week, she’ll be looking for a more consistent performance from her team — one that doesn’t take all their energy to get a victory. “I think some consistency in who we want to be is what we now need to show,” Harvey added. That also means calmly closing out the match, which will be important against a Houston side that has scored 12 of their 18 goals in the second half.

Injury Report

OL Reign
OUT: Rosie White (illness)

Houston Dash
OUT: Deneisha Blackwood (left knee - SEI), Emily Ogle (right knee - SEI)

How to Watch

OL Reign kick off against the Houston Dash on Wednesday, September 1, at 5 PM PT. The game will air on CBS Sports Network and will stream on Twitch for international viewers. (Note: games on CBS Sports Network aren’t typically available live on Paramount+. If you have a TV package, you should be able to stream the game here.)