Seattle played the breakers today without either of their US internationals, with a goalkeeper playing her first professional match, and after a full continent of travel. But it was Seattle that dominated possession and chances in front of a sellout Boston crowd. Bev Yanez' league-lead-tying 9th goal of the season and a Kim Little penalty were enough to secure the team's 9th win of the season. Still it was close late and even though Boston finished down a player, the final whistle came as a relief.
The match started with Boston setting their line of confrontation about 40 yards from their own goal, ceding two thirds of the field to the Reign and 80% of the possession. That kept Seattle from any clear chances, but plenty of half-chances. In the 25th minute the breakthrough came when Katrine Veje earned a Reign corner. Kim Little's take forced a flailing clearance from Alyssa Naeher, but it settled right at Yanez' feet and she thumped it in for the lead. That goal tied her with Crystal Dunn for the league lead.
Boston equalized shortly thereafter on their only shot on goal of the first half. Kristie Mewis, Boston's only real scoring threat with Kyah Simon a late scratch, was left unmarked on a cross from the wing and she dinked a header off the crossbar and down into goal. Keeper Caroline Stanley really had no chance on Boston's only good chance of the game.
In the second half possession was a little more even but still tilted toward the Reign. In the 58th the pressure finally paid off when Little was taken down in the box by Julie King (who earned a yellow that become significant later). She took it herself and shot hard and low past Naeher, who guess right but couldn't reach it anyway. Little was taken down again in the box in the 65th, but the ref was apparently committed to not calling a second PK so play continued.
In the 82nd King was given her second yellow for pulling back Yanez on a breakaway, leaving Boston with 10 players. And Seattle was once again back to dominating possession. Still, they couldn't turn it into another goal and Mewis had a couple of injury time chances to draw the match but shot both high.
The player of the game (who won't get it because she wasn't on the scoreboard) was probably Veje. She was a very able replacement for Rapinoe, running hard off the ball, with the ball, and on defense for her entire shift. She earned the corner that led to Yanez' goal and earned a number of other great chances by burning the Breakers' flank defense to get to the endline. It seems like just a matter of time until she gets on the scoreboard herself and Laura Harvey will have to figure out how to divide playing time between her, Rapinoe, and Merritt Mathias when everyone is healthy.
With the win, Seattle is guaranteed to stay on top of the standings for at least another week. And with three of the Reign's next four games at Memorial Stadium (where they've never lost), they have a good shot at pulling away from chasing Chicago. Next up for Seattle is a well-earned 11 day break followed by a home-and-away series with the Houston Dash, who are hovering at the edge of the playoff line.