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Reign score late to steal 1-1 draw with Gotham FC

In almost a mirror image of last week, this time the Reign steal a point late on the road.

Last Updated
4 min read
Reign forward Bethany Balcer gestures toward Quinn (outside of view) after the team scored a late goal against Gotham FC.
© Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Reign once again fell behind early in the second half after yet another baffling and infuriating defensive collapse, but fought back late, forcing a 99th minute own goal and forcing NJ/NY Gotham FC to settle for a single point at home.

The first half was a cagey and scoreless affair, with Gotham largely controlling play but the Reign effectively containing them from developing serious or repeated danger, and as the half drew to a close, the Reign even seemed to be growing into the match, with Tziarra King and Bethany Balcer both making their presence felt. King in particular had a good opportunity that Gotham goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger denied. However, the momentum didn't carry past the whistle. In the 46th minute, the Reign defense folded, both Alana Cook and Phoebe McClernon whiffed on the ball, and Ella Stevens, Crystal Dunn, and Rose Lavelle had just Shae Holmes and Claudia Dickey to beat. Rose mercilessly finished against her former team, giving the home side a 1-0 lead.

A flurry of chances and pressure for Gotham followed, but much like the Reign's futility a week prior, they could not find the second goal, and as the minutes ticked on, the Reign showed some fight. Sofia Huerta annihilated both posts on the same shot, only for the ball to bounce out to Bethany Balcer for a rebound that she slightly mishit, directly to Berger.

Yet another loss in a season of losses seemed inevitable, but the Reign were not to be denied, and in the 99th minute, Quinn delivered one last set piece from deep, Veronica Latsko rose up for the ball, and who else but Gotham defender Nealy Martin headed it home, leveling the game 1-1.

Some draws feel like losses. This draw, the Reign's first road point of the season, feels like dancing in the streets of New Jork/New Yersey/New Hampster/New South Wales. And don't look now, but the Reign are undefeated in their last three matches.

WHAT WORKED: Causing chaos

For a long while in the second half, it looked like the Reign were on cruise control to yet another loss in a lost season, meekly folding to a team studded with their own former stars. The Reign refused that outcome, and against one of the top teams in the league, on the road, they dug deep and found a stoppage time stunner to deny Gotham two points and make it clear that they can still cause chaos in the standings, no matter where they end up.

It doesn't matter if it's Veronica Latsko or Martin Nealy, after 90+ minutes, the scoreboard read 1-1 and it's Gotham lamenting the lost points. If we can't be good, maybe we can be spoilers.

WHAT DIDN'T WORK: Consistent defending

If Rose Lavelle and Crystal Dunn pull some Rose Lavelle and Crystal Dunn shit and just flat beat you, it's one thing. It happens. If you shoot yourself in the foot for the fifteenth time on the season, giving them a low-effort layup to take the lead through yet another instance of 30 seconds of garbage fire defending, it's very different. The Reign continue to concede goals on infuriatingly indefensible lapses, lapses that shouldn't be characteristic for the team they have, but apparently, in fact, are just in character now.

Nobody's tracking Crystal Dunn at all. Quinn doesn't recognize the threat Rose represents until she's already gotten an insurmountable jump on them. Alana Cook and Phoebe McClernon both whiff on chances to play the ball. And two touches later, after yet another spectacular team-wide effort to fail to defend, the Reign find themselves trailing.

WHAT DIDN'T WORK: Double posts

Sometimes, the Reign's struggles come from inexplicable brain-off defensive sequences. Sometimes, the Reign's struggles come from a lack of quick touches and incisive movement on offense. And sometimes, it's just whatever the fuck sort of dark and terrible curse leads to this.

Yes, that was, in fact, a double post, followed by a wide open rebound that Balcer couldn't get clean enough contact to. In a season where the Reign have been both bad and unlucky, it was still a real are you kidding me moment. Fortunately, they were still able to steal a point with some late chaos.

"It was just up to my teammates to make as much chaos as possible"

Noting that there were positives in the first half, Quinn agreed that the Reign "lost that a little bit in the second half." They added, "For us, it's, you know, being able to play with that patience for 90 minutes – just a little point of improvement. I think at times, we really nullified their offense, but it's still trying to figure out how to solve the different pictures they give us quickly."

But they took a brighter view on the final play of the game and how the Reign closed: "Yeah, I definitely just wanted to get [the free kick] into a good space, you know, at the back post in that area of the box and, once I hit it, I thought it felt good, and it was just up to my teammates to make as much chaos as possible and they did; and that's all we can do in those late game moments."

"You know, it's a similar type of goal that we've conceded, which is disappointing."

Laura Harvey was sanguine about the performance, saying she "thought we deserved a point, at minimum, from the game." While expressing frustration with the goal the Reign conceded, and how frequently they have given up similar goals where multiple players seem to make a big mistake all at once, she noted the fight the team showed under pressure, and noted how the match mirrored the Reign's disappointing result against Louisville a week prior: "Well, we got the complete opposite last week, right? Like this happened to us literally the opposite a week ago and it was gut wrenching. So we have to use this as a platform, I think, to push on. Honestly, I think we have to drive ourselves forward from this."

The Reign return to action on Sunday, July 7th, at 3:00 PM, hosting the Utah Royals at Lumen Field. Turn out for the Crown in person, or watch the match on KONG or streaming on NWSL+.