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Match preview: Seattle Reign vs. Washington Spirit

The Reign head on the road to face another tough squad.

Last Updated
4 min read
© Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Reign FC will travel across the country again on Friday, May 24, to take on the Washington Spirit at Audi Field. The match kicks off at 4:30 PM PT and will air on KONG-TV locally and stream on NWSL+ and the KING5+ app.

While Bethany Balcer will be out after picking up a red card last week, Jordyn Huitema traveled with the team and will be available for selection. Head coach Laura Harvey also called out Veronica Latsko and Emeri Adames as players who could help fill Balcer's role against the Spirit.

Just like last week, the Reign are facing another team sitting near the top of the league. The Spirit have won three of their last four games.

Recent Results

Last Sunday, the Reign fell 3-2 to Orlando Pride, the current league leaders, at home. The Spirit won 4-2 at home against Angel City on Saturday – with all goals coming in a wild first half.

Head to Head

The Reign are 14-9-8 all-time against the Spirit.

  • That includes a 4-5-3 record on the road.
  • Midfielder Jess Fishlock has a series-leading seven goals against Washington.

Quick Stats

  • The Washington Spirit (7-3-0) have scored 22 goals and conceded 14.
  • Seattle Reign (2-7-1) has scored 9 goals and conceded 17.
  • Rookie midfielder Croix Bethune has three goals and seven assists.
  • The Spirit are 4-1 at home this year.

What to Watch

Setting the tone

When the Reign beat the Spirit in their season opener, they scored in the first minutes of the game. That set the tone for the match, and the Reign dominated for the entire 90 minutes – holding the Spirit to just two shots and .04 expected goals.

Unfortunately, while the Reign have been in all of their matches since that season opener, they have given up a lot of early goals. This has caused them to chase games. While they've actually played quite well after going down, it's still an uphill climb. The team has had a lot of good conversations while watching videos and at training to try to address this.

"That's been a big conversation for us this week," Harvey said. "I feel like when we feel the adversity of either losing or conceding, whatever it might be, we tend to respond really well. And our conversation this week has been, how can we be the one that's making the other team feel that way? We haven't had that enough."

An early goal is possible, as the Spirit have given up six first-half goals in their last five games.

Stopping Rodman and Bethune

This match will feature three of the top 10 NWSL leaders in chances created: Ji So-Yun (19), Trinity Rodman (22) and Bethune (20). Rodman and Bethune have combined for six goals and 11 assists. Both players present significant threats.

Bethune is great at finding pockets of space, drawing defenders, and then creating opportunities in tight spaces with through balls and well-placed passes. The Reign have to keep a player tight on Bethune, so she can't create around the top of the box. They'll also need to stay organized in transition so she can't draw defenders and find a teammate.

"I think Croix has been exceptional this season. Not a surprise, to be honest. I think she's an exceptional talent that has a really bright future," Harvey said. "I think we have to try and make the space as difficult for her to function in, which I think we did a good job of when we played them at home."

Rodman puts in a ton of defensive work and is really dangerous in transition. She's had the most successful take-on dribbles this season, has drawn the third-most fouls, and 16 of her carries up the field have led to a chance – the most in the league. The Reign will want to keep Rodman high, and put pressure on her, so she can't add more chances to her tally.

"I think with Trinity, you've got to try and get her in areas that she doesn't want to be. She works really hard on both sides of the ball, so she can get around the field a lot, but we've just got to try and limit the options that they have."

Taking advantage of set pieces

Like the Orlando Pride heading into last week, the Spirit don't concede a lot of shots, expected goals, or goals. They have an organized defense and athletic midfield that works hard to prevent quality opportunities. The Reign found a way to find some chances against Orlando, and they'll look to do the same against Washington.

One way the Reign can find some luck is through set pieces. The Spirit have given up five set-piece goals this season, tied for the most in the league.

On the other end, the Reign have created the fourth-highest expected goals total from set plays and have the most shots from set plays after being fouled. What Seattle hasn't been able to do so far is finish those chances. Aside from penalties, they have just one goal from set plays. Can the Reign change that on Friday?

Injury / Availability Report

Seattle Reign

OUT: Bethany Balcer (suspension), Claudia Dickey (knee), Quinn (knee)

Washington Spirit

OUT: Anna Heilferty (SEI - knee), Civana Kuhlmann (SEI - knee), Lyza Bosselmann (wrist), Paige Metayer (lower leg)
QUESTIONABLE: Makenna Morris (hip)

How to Watch

Seattle Reign face the Washington Spirit on Friday, May 24, at 4:30 PM PT. The game will air on KONG TV locally and stream on the KING5+ app and NWSL+.