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Seattle Reign win preseason friendly against Costa Rica national team

A comfortable 4-0 win concluded the Reign's preseason trip to Costa Rica.

Last Updated
5 min read
© Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of goals in each half propelled Seattle Reign to a comfortable 4-0 win over the Costa Rica women's national team on Friday night. Bethany Balcer and Tziarra King got on the scoresheet in the first half, with Ryanne Brown and Jordyn Huitema rounding things out.

Costa Rica scheduled the friendly with the Reign to prepare for the Concacaf W Gold Cup. Unfortunately, the national team was without head coach Beni Rubido, who was unable to secure a work permit in time. The national team was also without key players like Rocky Rodriguez, who is still in preseason training with NWSL club Angel City.

In what could be an interesting sign of things to come, the Reign started in what can essentially be described as a 3-5-2. Non-roster invitee Emeri Adames was the only unsigned player in the starting lineup – playing left wingback opposite Sofia Huerta. Tziarra King and Bethany Balcer, the two forwards, skewed a little to the left – presumably to try to get on the end of Huerta's crosses.

Seattle Reign Starting Lineup

If Adames made a run up the left flank, King would pull inside while otherwise operating a lot like a left forward. Olivia Athens would often fill space on the right side if Huerta remained a little further back – especially when the Reign were pressing out of a goal kick.

The Reign came out of the gates early. In the 3rd minute, Adames sent a lovely cross into the box from the left that Athens was unable to bring down cleanly. The ball deflected a couple of times as Costa Rica's defense tried to clear it, and Balcer pounced to give the Reign an early lead.

In the 14th minute, Quinn won a Costa Rican clearance in front of the halfway mark, dribbled it forward, and found a slip pass to King in the box. The forward timed her run well and shot with her first touch – nutmegging the keeper to make it 2-0.

Costa Rica only got two shots off in the first half, as the Reign dominated possession and rarely let their opponent get into their attacking third. Both shots were well-taken attempts from far outside the 18-yard box. Laurel Ivory couldn't quite claim the first and had to push it out for a corner, while the second went wide just before the halftime whistle.

Reign head coach Laura Harvey made several changes to start the second half, although the formation remained essentially the same. This time, however, it felt like the team played more like a 3-4-2-1. Draft picks Maddie Mercado and Sam Meza got an opportunity to show their talents, playing just behind Huitema.

Seattle Reign lineup to start the second half (* = draft pick)

Just like in the first half, the Reign got on the scoresheet early in the second. Veronica Latsko, who came into the right wingback role, got her head on Costa Rica's goal kick. Her header found Jordyn Huitema, who slipped a pass into the box. Meza lunged and deflected it to Ryanne Brown, who was making an unmarked run on the far post and calmly slotted the ball into the net.

Huitema scored the Reign's fourth and final goal in the 56th minute, slotting a penalty into the right corner after getting Costa Rica's goalkeeper to dive the wrong way.

The play started when the Reign regained possession and Olivia van der Jagt sent a forward pass to Meza, who dribbled toward the top of the box. She slipped a ball to a streaking Huitema in the box. The forward took a touch around the keeper, who also got her trailing leg – which Huitema conveniently left down to get the penalty call.

Another four subs came into the match in the 67th minute, giving the remaining three non-roster invitees/draft picks – Gianna Gourley, Juju Harris, and Makena Carr – some minutes. Goalkeeper Maia Pérez also came in for Ivory.

Seattle Reign lineup in the 67th minute (^ = non-roster invitee, * = draft pick)

The Reign had a few chances to close out the game and continued to dominate possession, but the score would remain 4-0. In between the goals, the Reign had some good looks and some misplayed touches and passes – as can be expected for an opening preseason match.

The Reign will return to Seattle this weekend and continue training at Starfire Sports. While the club hasn't announced it yet, the University of Washington's spring schedule includes a match against the Reign on Wednesday, March 6.


  • Is the 3-5-2 here to stay? Honestly, it's just far too early to tell. The Reign looked comfortable in the formation and it clearly played to their strengths, but they were also facing a Costa Rica side that struggled to get into their attacking half and create chances. The Reign were rarely tested and were able to get their unsigned players several minutes in this formation.
  • Interestingly, midfielders Nikki Stanton, Quinn, and Olivia Van der Jagt all spent time on the backline in this three-back formation. Quinn started their career in this role, but Stanton and Olo have been pretty firmly in the midfield. They were rarely put under pressure or tested.
  • Lauren Barnes, Alana Cook, and Claudia Dickey were the three players who didn't get any minutes during the match. It's unclear if they had knocks or if Laura Harvey didn't feel it was necessary to roll them out.
  • Seventeen-year-old non-roster invitee Emeri Adames sure looked comfortable with the starting lineup in the first half. She showed good pace, created the Reign's first opportunity with a well-placed cross, and showed some fancy footwork at times.
  • Midfielder Sam Meza, the Reign's first draft pick, is a menace in the best way possible. She closes down so quickly on opponents and won a ball around the 90th minute with a well-timed tackle. She's fearless and ruthless.
  • Meza, Gianna Gourley, and Maddie Mercado had a couple of moments where they held onto the ball a little too long – giving them an early taste of the faster pace of professional soccer. They adjusted well and it was clearly not a pattern.
  • The Reign were unable to play their first preseason match against Liga Deportiva Alajuelense as scheduled last week, as the country had a moratorium on gatherings ahead of municipal elections. While the friendly was supposed to be played behind closed doors, the clubs were unable to get official approval to hold the game.

The full match has been uploaded to YouTube, at least for now: