After a brief pause from local soccer thanks to the international breaks, Seattle wakes up to its greatest week of soccer ever, as the city hosts the US Open Cup, the Copa America group stage and quarterfinals, and regular season matches in leagues up and down the Sound.
The kickoff match for Seattle Soccer Week is this afternoon at Memorial Stadium, when the Reign host the Houston Dash.
Seattle is still trying to get back into a rhythm after multiple injuries derailed the first third of the season. The team hasn't won since May 1st and the team that had won two thirds of their matches over a dominant two year run only has two wins in seven. But Jess Fishlock is back from her tibia break, and that should free Kim Little to be the offensive catalyst that won the BBC Women's Player of the Year award.
Beyond the return of their Welsh engine and the benefit of playing at home, Seattle has the momentum. In five matches against Houston, the Reign are 5-0-0.
The Dash come in with a nearly identical, and identically disappointing, record. Their only road points this season have come in a win against struggling Kansas City. And they have significant injury problems of their own, with superstar Carli Lloyd sidelined by a knee injury.
When Lloyd's healthy, the Dash have one of the best midfields in the league. Without her, they're merely very good. US international Morgan Brian, Brazilian international Andressa, and ex-Reign player Amber Brooks will likely try to hold the middle against Seattle's Fishlock, Little, and Keelin Winters. For goal-scoring they'll rely on Kealia Ohai, who's always a danger on the right wing.
But to hold off Seattle, they'll need a strong showing from a defense that's traditionally been torn apart by Reign attackers. Houston has never surrendered fewer than two goals to Seattle, home or away, and has twice given up four.