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Three Stats: Seattle Reign vs. Washington Spirit

Looking at the data behind the Reign’s 1-0 home win to open the season.

Last Updated
4 min read
Mike Russell / Sounder at Heart

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Seattle Reign marked the Queen’s return with a 1-0 win against the Washington Spirit. Bethany Balcer’s 3rd-minute penalty kick was all the Reign ultimately needed to get the first three points of the year.

Lining up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, the Reign came out firing in the first half and had their foot on the gas.

Here are three stats from the Reign’s season opener.


Reign newcomer Ji So-yun completed 90.5% of her 21 passes into the final third – even higher than her overall completion rate of 82.8%, which is a rarity since final-third passes are often riskier and involve more defenders in the way.

The midfielder was everywhere on Sunday. In addition to leading the team in completed passes (48), she had a team-leading 3 shots, 3 chances created, and 3 tackles won. She also won 6 duels, which was second-best on the team behind Quinn.

Ji So-yun heat map vs. Washington Spirit

In 2023, the Reign struggled to complete that final pass in their attacking third. One match is a small sample size, but Ji showed in her initial minutes that she has all the qualities this team needs to be more dangerous on the ball. She’s also only had about six training sessions with the club.

“She brings class. She’s quality. She’s a very, very technically gifted player. Her understanding of the game has made this seamless, and she’s had, I don’t know, six training sessions, maybe,” head coach Laura Harvey said after the match. “What she also has is she is fit, she’s quick, she’s dynamic, she sees a pass – and for our team, that’s what we need.”

“I think any player that has an unpredictability to them, whether it’s skill, whether it’s shooting, whether it’s taking people on in a dribble, I think she has a lot of qualities that fill a lot of gaps that we have and also enhances a lot of people and other traits that we have on the team,” defender Shae Holmes said in a post-match press conference.


Per FBref, the Reign had 24 shot-creating actions from live play – including 21 live passes, one shot that led to another shot, one take-on, and one foul that led to the penalty kick.

Shot-creating actions are the two actions directly leading to a shot, such as passes, take-ons, drawing fouls, or defensive actions like an interception. They can also include set plays like free kicks and throw-ins, although I left that stat out – instead pointing to the chance creation that came outside of dead ball opportunities.

For a little bit of context, the Reign only managed to get 24+ shot-creating actions from live play five times in their 22 regular-season matches in 2023. Getting that total in the first match of the year is a good sign, although they still have a lot of football to play in 2024 and only had one goal to show for it this weekend. If the Reign can continue to create good chances, more goals should come.

“I think the biggest highlight for me that I wasn’t really expecting was how good we played at times, just because it’s the first game of the season,” Harvey said.


Per Opta, the Washington Spirit produced just 0.04 expected goals (xG) from two shots – one a speculative long shot that was blocked and the other a flicked header by Ashley Hatch with her back to goal. American Soccer Analysis had the xG slightly lower, at 0.03, which marks the lowest total in any NWSL match since data began being captured in 2016.

While the Reign lost their rhythm at times and let the Spirit have some more meaningful possession in the second half, they held firm in front of the goal. And as their xG data shows, they didn't give up any dangerous chances.

“The game was a little bit choppy towards the end of the first half and then same in the second half, didn’t really get going, and then once the flow of the game came back, I thought that we again played some really good football and limited them to very limited opportunities,” Harvey said. “I think the thing that I’m most happy about is our determination to win the game and limit them to very little. Getting points at home are always vital in this league.”

The Reign now begin a three-match road trip that starts with a game against the Chicago Red Stars, who are coming off a 2-0 road win against Utah. The match kicks off Saturday, March 23, at 1 p.m. PT and will stream on NWSL+.