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Seattle Reign fall again, 3-2 to Orlando Pride

Reign erase 2-0 deficit but succumb late.

Last Updated
4 min read
Mike Russell / Sounder at Heart

The Seattle Reign remembered to score, but failed to contain “Hat Trick” Barbra Banda, and ultimately fell 3-2 on a sunny Sunday afternoon, for their 7th loss of the season, and second consecutive match giving up three or more goals.

It started bad, with a well-struck Emily Sams goal giving Orlando the lead just nine minutes in. It got worse just nine minutes later, with Banda inexplicably left unmarked on the back post making no mistake to double Orlando’s lead. It nearly got catastrophically worse shortly after that, as Orlando appeared to have tacked on a third goal after some shambolic set-piece defending on the Reign, but the goal was waved off as Banda, in one of her few missteps of the match, ran just a bit ahead of the delivery.

After one of the worst 20 minutes the Reign have ever played (right on the heels of another of the worst 20 minutes they had ever played away at Portland last week), the team put together some solid spells of possession, creating danger and looking to fight their way back into the game. Right before half, they got a breakthrough through Anghard James-Turner, as Ji So-yun found her at the top of the box and her deflected strike left goaltender Anna Moorhouse no chance. As the second half kicked off, the Reign continued their solid pressure and once again found the reward that’s often been lacking this season, as a perfectly weighted long ball found Bethany Balcer in stride. She tore into the area, beat her defender, and calmly chipped Moorhouse to level the score.

The fight was there, but unfortunately, Banda would not be denied, and 10 minutes later, she restored Orlando’s lead with a frankly unbelievable bit of skill and agility, getting a spectacular hit to a ball she had no business getting to despite being shielded well by Olivia van der Jagt throughout the play. The Reign tried to fight back to level terms again, but it was not to be, and any real hope of a late rally was ended by Balcer’s 83rd minute sending off.

The Reign found yet another way to lose, and are now 2-1-7 on the season.


After an absolutely nightmarish first 25 minutes, the Reign started working their way back into the game, with extended spells of pressure and some real shows of skill between Jess Fishlock and Ji So-yun in the midfield, but it was ultimately none other than Angharad James-Turner scoring the falling-down curler from the top of the box that got the Reign back into it.

Just like everyone drew up in their prematch predictions.

WHAT WORKED: Fighting Back

After yet another deflating loss with yet another hard-to-swallow twist, it can be hard to look at a match and say anything really worked. Those first twenty minutes were some of the worst we've seen from the Reign, a team that looked broken, disconnected, unsure how to defend, unable to attack. They conceded twice and could have easily conceded again. But after that, they actually did find a long stretch of solid play where they largely neutralized a lethal Orlando side and forced the Pride to defend. Where the pressure has often been feckless in past Reign performances, this time, they attacked in a variety of ways and found two goals, bookending either side of the halftime break.

It didn’t win them a result, and the match unraveled again late, but despite the grinding slog of the season, the frustration and the struggle, the team hasn’t given up, and the team is clearly still willing to fight for a point. We need them to succeed at fighting for that point much more often, but the fight was there, and that's not nothing.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: Defending Barbra Banda

Honestly, how do you defend against this woman?

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: Conceding Early and Often

The Reign have arguably been pretty unlucky to concede as many goals as they have this season, but they sure also aren’t doing themselves any favors, as the defense has shown an alarming trend toward collectively falling asleep and letting small chances become goals. A boot through the ball to clear it can prevent a stunner like Sams’ opening goal. Actually marking the most dangerous attacker on the field at the back post can prevent Banda’s first goal. We’ll call it a wash on Banda’s second, because she’s a world-class player who was simply going to kick that ball straight through the net in that moment and nothing was going to stop her, but the avoidable defensive mistakes scorched the Reign again, and left them needing a huge fight back to even get on level terms.

A team isn’t going to win many games by just kind of forgetting to defend.

"When we're down, we tend to respond very well."

An introspective Laura Harvey talked at length about the inconsistency of the team, and the struggle to show up on the front foot:

"When we're down, we tend to respond very well. That intensity we show when we're down, we have to start with. That, to me, is what winning teams do."

Noting that she can't fault the players for the fight they show under adversity, she kept coming back to the Reign's tendency to turn off for long stretches, adding, "What I think we have to solve is, if we play like we did, for maybe 60 minutes of the game, and turn that into 90, I think the results change."

"We should be starting games in the way we perform when we go behind."

Angharad James-Turner struck a similar tone to Harvey, also stating point blank that, "we should be starting games in the way we perform when we go behind."

She mentioned the momentum shifting after Orlando's disallowed third goal, and how the Reign began to take over after that, musing about how the Reign are often able to control games for extended sequences, but continue struggling to make it count, lamenting: "That cutting edge that, at the minute, we just haven't got."

The Reign have a short turnaround, as they're back in action away at the Washington Spirit on Friday, May 24 at 4:30 PM. The match will be available on KONG TV, the KING5+ app, and NWSL+.