In front of a packed crowd of 6,021 fans the Seattle Reign came back from a precarious first half to dominate the second and earn a 2-1 win, their 10th win of the season and one that put them five points ahead of the second place Chicago Red Stars.
The Houston Dash, desperate to earn quick points to keep pace with their shrinking playoff window, came out with a high line and a high press to try to force Seattle mistakes. But the Reign defense and Hope Solo, who was making her first start for the team since coming back from the World Cup with a knee injury, were equal to it and were under little pressure early. Still, Seattle spurned some good early chances and it was the Dash who took the game's first lead, when the ball deflected to an open Kealia Ohai at the top of the Reign box and she powered it under a diving Solo.
The Reign were only behind for about 5 minutes, though, as Rapinoe beat the high line with a perfect ball over the top to Merritt Mathias barreling toward goal. Dash keeper Eric McLeod rushed out, but she was beaten to the ball and could only deflect it off of Mathias, who regained possession and scored in the open net.
After that, the first half was largely Houston's. Carli Lloyd was kept mostly silent by Seattle's midfield, but Jessica McDonald was a handful and the Dash were able to hold their share of possession. Still, the game went in tied.
In the second half the Reign came out like a storm. Whatever adjustments coach Harvey made at half were effective, and the team battered the Dash goal for the first 15 minutes of the half. The chances included a seemingly endless stream of corners, a Fishlock kneed shot off the bar, an open Mathias shot, and a Rachel Corsie header cleared literally off the line by Meghan Klingenberg.
Finally the dam broke in the 60th minute, when Corsie got another headed shot off a corner and this one couldn't be saved. Her goal gave the team a 2-1 lead that they comfortably held to the end, with few scares generated by the (likely tired) Dash.
The win clinches a playoff position for Seattle, though that's not an achievement that's been in much doubt for a while. Their goal now is the homefield advantage through the playoffs that comes with repeating as NWSL Shield winners. In that race they're now big favorites thanks to the win and the Red Stars' home draw today.
The attendance of 6,021 was the team's second highest of all time, the third consecutive crowd of at least 5,700 since the World Cup, and the second in which Seattle opened up the South stands, which at this point has to be assumed to be a permanent move. That it came during midweek was even more impressive. The team's previous high for a Wednesday match was 3,375 late last season.
Now the team has a week off before a rematch against these same Dash in Houston next Friday.