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Match Preview: Seattle Reign vs. Bay FC

The game kicks off at 5 PM PT on Sunday and will air locally on KONG-TV and stream on the KING 5+ and NWSL+ apps.

Last Updated
5 min read
© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Reign FC travels to the Bay Area on Sunday for its first-ever match against expansion club Bay FC. The game at PayPal Park kicks off at 5 PM PT and will air locally on KONG-TV and stream on the KING 5+ app or the NWSL+ app.

The Reign are closing out a three-game road trip, and after earning zero points in the first two matches of this trip they are hoping to walk away with points before heading back home to Lumen Field next weekend.

The team is as close to full health as they've been, with the only exception being Jordyn Huitema, who had to sub out of Canada's match against the U.S. early on Tuesday. While head coach Laura Harvey said the team doesn't yet know the full extent of Huitema's injury, she most certainly won't feature this weekend for the Reign.

It will be a gametime decision for the remaining players coming back from injury and international duty, as there may still be minute restrictions for players like Alana Cook and Veronica Latsko. The other international players logged a lot of airline miles traveling to Wales, Kosovo, Germany, and South Korea.

Recent Results

Both teams experienced last-minute losses in their previous match. The Reign lost 1-0 to San Diego in the 98th minute, while Bay FC fell 3-2 to Houston in the 100th minute in their sold-out home opener. Both teams will be looking for a little redemption on Sunday.

Quick Stats

  • Both teams enter the weekend with a 1-2-0 record
  • Bay FC has scored 4 goals and conceded 5
  • The Reign have scored 2 goals and conceded 3

What to Watch

Bay FC's formation

For their first three matches, Bay FC has played in a traditional 4-3-3 formation. The team likes to build out of the back and manage the tempo through possession.

"They like to play, I'm not going to lie. I've been very impressed with some of the soccer that they've played over the last several weeks," defender Sofia Huerta said on the Attacking Third podcast this week.

Expect their centerbacks to have a lot of the ball, along with right back Caprice Dydasco, who gets high in the attack and is a big part of their build-up.

When building from deep, Bay FC keeps their centerbacks wide and leaves just one holding midfielder as an option deep in the middle. They are comfortable going wide, even under pressure. From there, they try to combine to move the ball up the field. As an expansion team, their combination play already looks quite strong. However, they can be pressured into mistakes or forced to pass long.

Their midfield trio consists of a single pivot holding midfielder and two No. 8s who take turns dropping or making runs into the attack. Relying on a single player deep in the midfield can leave Bay FC vulnerable to counter attacks.

The Reign can exploit the gaps in the midfield, too, just as they were able to do against the Spirit in their home opener. According to Harvey, that means finding the right opportunities to cross the ball and taking those chances, which she doesn't feel like they did against the Wave. It also means creating other chances through strong combination play in the attack.

"If I could write a script of how we want to play, that [Washington game] was close to it. If you want a blueprint, that's it. We're renowned over the last couple of years for being a crossing team. We've scored a lot of goals from that. I think we can still have that as a weapon for our attacking opportunities. But I think with the players that we've brought in and the players that we have here, we also have other ways that we can score goals."

Lots of speed up top

Bay has plenty of pace up top, with forwards Asisat Oshoala, Racheal Kundananji, Tess Boade, and Scarlett Camberos all possessing considerable speed. In addition to being a threat in front of goal, Oshoala can use her pace to beat defenders to the endline and find a teammate. That's exactly how Bay FC scored against the Spirit.

According to The Mercury News, fresh off helping Zambia earn a trip to the Olympics, Kundananji will make her first start for Bay FC on Sunday. She missed the club's first two games while recovering from a knee injury, then scored this stunner in her first appearance off the bench last match.

The Reign backline is going to have a tough task keeping that speed in front of them, but as Harvey always likes to say, "Prevention is better than a cure."

Captain Lauren Barnes said the team is laser-focused on growing into this principle in 2024 as they welcome several new players onto the squad – some who have never played in the NWSL.

"Being able to get set before anything happens is something that [Laura] continues to really implement. And our team looks new, so revisiting those things has been really important, and you can see us grasping the principles of that. As much as we can, we need to make sure that we are focused. I think the biggest thing is always making sure that we're switched on because it's moments that we either have the ball or in transition when those things happen."

Bay like to press

After three matches, Bay FC has forced the second-highest number of high turnovers in the league (47, just one behind the Thorns) and leads the league in tackles won. Bay FC's wing players close down quickly on opponents the second they go wide, with their backline pushing high to try to cut off options up the field.

The Reign will need to be prepared for the pressure, especially with Bay playing at home. Seattle could get some good looks if they can switch the field early, something that a centerback like Alana Cook can do quite well.

Injury / Availability Report

Seattle Reign

OUT: Jordan Huitema (back)

Bay FC

OUT: Scarlett Camberos (leg), Maya Doms (lower leg), Rachel Hill (leg), Melissa Lowder (SEI -knee), Kiki Pickett (knee)

How to Watch

Seattle Reign kicks off against Bay FC at 5 PM PT on Sunday, April 14. The match will stream on NWSL+ and the KING 5+ app, and will air locally on KONG TV.