In their home opener against Western New York the Reign took a half to warm into the new season, but by the end a rampant Megan Rapinoe performance had them cruising to a big win. It was a hint that this season may look a lot like last season's Shield-winning performance. But first they'll have to prove they can also do it on the road.
The first chance to do that comes tonight with a visit to the Chicago Red Stars, who will be kicking off their season after a bye in the first week. The Red Stars were notably the only team the Reign didn't have a winning record against in the 2014 regular season. They used disciplined, physical defense, a narrow formation, and two hard-tackling defensive midfielders to limit Seattle to 4 goals in 3 games. One of Seattle's 3 shutouts last season came in their only trip to Chicago, when they were beaten 1-0.
The Red Stars are going to be as hurt as any team by international absences, but that won't matter this week. Christen Press is available as a dynamic attacking option, Julie Johnston is a tower in defense, and Lori Chalupny will patrol the midfield.
The Reign don't have many regrets from last season. Obviously, one is not winning the final. Another will be not being able to break through Chicago's organized defense. This is a good early test to see if they can improve over last season in at least that regard.