The Seattle Reign got the hard work done in mid-week when they went down to Portland and beat their regional rivals in their own stadium. Now they just have to hold serve at home in front of a record crowd to complete the sweep of the Thorns and move themselves back to the top of the NWSL standings.
Wednesday's match was a tight contest with few clear chances until last year's MVP Kim Little broke the game open in the second half with a slaloming, twisting run through the Thorns box followed by a confident finish that gave Seattle a one-goal lead they held to the final whistle.
Such is the anticipation for the derby match and the strength of post-World Cup interest in the league that tonight will see the south stand of Memorial Stadium opened for the first time since the Reign moved to the stadium. The additional seating should bring total attendance to the low 6000s, which would make this the highest attended home Reign match of all time, beating the previous record crowd of 5,957, who watched Seattle thump the Thorns 5-0 last July. It will be the first chance to see World Cup hero Megan Rapinoe back in action at home. Hope Solo remains out with an injury.
A win would move Seattle back into first in the league, a point ahead of Chicago. The Red Stars have only lost once all season, have just returned USWNT stars Christen Press and Julie Johnston, and have 5 of their 7 remaining games at home, making them heavy favorites to take the Shield this season. The Reign will have to take every point they can get to keep pace.
And it could be the last time Seattle faces their Cascadia rivals this season. This is the last regular season matchup, and the Thorns — who currently sit in 8th place — are in real danger of not making the playoffs. That task would be made all the harder if they can't match the Reign with a road win today.