After spending a week in the nation’s capital, OL Reign are back in the friendly comforts of their new home, Lumen Field. They hosted Racing Louisville for their regular season home opener. The headlines should be about forward Tziarra King, but once again, very questionable referee decisions become a talking point, in which OL Reign and Racing Louisville split the points to a 2-2 draw.
WHAT WORKED: A KING’S CROWN
With OL Reign behind after McDonald’s goal, they needed to respond and they did just that. Tziarra King opened her 2022 goal account with her first professional brace in a four-minute span that OL Reign fans have been waiting for when she joined the club in 2020. Tell us in the comments as to which King finish you liked more.
Silky smooth finish from @tziarra #RGNvLOU | #AllTheAction pic.twitter.com/Mx9NX3NwUe— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) May 8, 2022
TWICE IS NICE FOR @tziarra #RGNvLOU | #AllTheAction pic.twitter.com/GZT0MFmqm0— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) May 8, 2022
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: CONCEDING FIRST
Racing Louisville struck first in the 23rd minute, courtesy of Jess McDonald. You could feel the goal coming as OL Reign were losing the ball at midfield early on from kickoff, unable to break down Louisville’s press.
WHAT WORKED: SO LET’S TALK ABOUT REFEREES
It’s been a week for officiating in the NWSL, hasn’t it? Not just OL Reign, who have their own adventures with referees in their matches as of late, but we all saw what happened at the NWSL Challenge Cup final as part of the never-ending commentary that the quality of officiating at NWSL matches could be a lot better. Yes, it is a hard job, but the frustration from players only continues to get louder.
Bethany Balcer draws another keeper into a yellow card challenge far outside the box as Katie Lund trips her.#RGNvLOU | 2 - 2 pic.twitter.com/uJPGFsvXYa— The Equalizer (@EqualizerSoccer) May 8, 2022
Questions were raised across social media about this moment between Racing Louisville goalkeeper Katie Lund and forward Bethany Balcer. Was it a denial of a goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO), to which Lund should have been shown a straight red and sent off? Here’s what the officiating crew had to say about that moment in the 65th minute.
“Based on the referee’s angle, she cautioned the player for a reckless challenge,” PRO Referees replied when asked to describe why a yellow card was given. When asked why the referee did not provide a red card for DOGSO, the answer was, “The Reign player did not have likelihood of gaining control of the ball.”
After the match, forward Bethany Balcer posted this regarding the apparent own-goal charged to her that would be Louisville’s equalizer goal.
after the game i calmly went up to the sideline ref and asked him how he thought the ball crossed the line when i was blocking him from it. he said “i’m very tall” to which i said it was still wrong. his response “yes i might’ve been wrong, but it’s just a goal” JUST A GOAL— Bethany Balcer (@bethanybalcer) May 9, 2022
“Good things happen to good people.”
The headlines should be about King’s first professional brace as the response OL Reign needed to do after conceding first. Yet marred by another set of moments where everyone is questioning the decisions of the referee, OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey was just exhausted talking about the referees or if VAR needs to be implemented at NWSL matches. But with the focus on King’s brace, Harvey said that she handled Wednesday’s situation well in terms of coming on late in the second half, but then quickly being subbed out so forward Megan Rapinoe would be available to take penalties in the NWSL Challenge Cup semifinal versus Washington Spirit.
Next up for OL Reign is a trip down I-5 to meet up with their Cascadia rivals, Portland Thorns FC, Friday night lights edition. The match is scheduled for a 7 PM PT kickoff and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network for US viewers, while international viewers can watch on Twitch. This will be Portland’s first match in two weeks as they did not play this weekend, originally scheduled to have been on the road at North Carolina Courage, who obviously had competed and won yesterday’s 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup final.