Tonight the Reign make their final trip of the season to the East Coast, to take on the Western New York Flash team that they earned a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over just a couple of weeks ago.
Despite that win, this one will no doubt be tough. In fact, it might be as difficult a challenge as they face all season. It's one of only two road games left against a team currently in playoff position. It's on short rest after 3,000 miles of travel, after a game that could be charitably described as 'difficult'. Seattle's offense looked out of sync all game this weekend, at home against a struggling team. The Reign were lucky to get out of that match with a scoreless draw after Sky Blue earned a number of dangerous chances that they ended up squandering.
To play like that again on the road against the Flash would be suicide. Carli Lloyd is coming off a Player of the Week performance in which she scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Boston. Samantha Kerr is a potent threat from midfield, and she scored the go-ahead goal in the last matchup between these teams. And McCall Zerboni is a physical midfielder who can be goal-dangerous as well. One saving grace for Seattle is that Abby Wambach is still out.
And speaking of being out, Megan Rapinoe may not be. She's still officially listed as questionable, but she made the bench in the last two matches and there have been hints that she could be ready to go, at least for a sub appearance. It's worth noting that this is roughly the point at which she joined the team last season after completing her loan with French side Lyon. At that time she joined as the savior for a team that was mired at the bottom of the standings. And her addition was transformative — she dominated opponents from the left wing, and the team made an implausible late playoff run that kept interest in the team alive through what could have been an awful lame duck second half. But this season she joins a team that has nearly lapped the rest of the field in the standings. If she can provide the same positive influence as last season, the team could be significantly better, which is hard to fathom.
In the short term, she'd be a big boost tonight. As would an improved performance from the last match. If Seattle can get one or both, they have a decent chance of getting out with their undefeated streak alive in one of its biggest remaining threats.