Today the Reign travel to distant lands in the East to take on the Washington Spirit. The first match of the first ever post-World Cup era for the Reign was an emphatic success, both at the gate and on the field. The first sellout crowd of the season watched Seattle come back from an early deficit to win 4-2 over Western New York and extend their undefeated streak to 8 games.
We still haven't seen the national teamers' return to the squad. Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo have both been on a whirlwind media tour with the rest of the US team in the wake of the World Cup victory and haven't trained with the club team. In addition, Kendall Fletcher is still recovering from a head injury that had her at least dazed for minutes in the New York match. But those are absences Seattle can deal with. They've gotten by without Solo and Rapinoe for over a month. And Fletcher's been playing right back, where she has an easy replacement in Elli Reed, who's played that position for the team for three seasons.
Seattle will have to be wary of Crystal Dunn, who's recovered from her World Cup roster snub to take over the league golden boot race with seven goals. She and ex-Reign player Christine Nairn have combined for 11 of the Spirit's 16 goals, so neutralizing them would leave the team with few remaining weapons. At the other end, Washington is tied for the second worst defense in the league and the Reign have only been shutout twice all season. With Kim Little seemingly rounding into form and new signing Katrine Veje settled with the team, that sounds like a recipe for some Seattle fireworks.
If Seattle does get at least a point they'll once again pull ahead of Chicago for the Shield lead, though the Red Stars kick off just an hour later at home against Kansas City. And extending the undefeated streak to 9 even before the return of Rapinoe, who was one of the best players at the World Cup, would bode well for the run-in to the playoffs.
UPDATE: The Washington Spirit livestream is down, so we have embedded tweets from those attending the match.