The Seattle Reign continued their recent trend of solid defense and barren offense yesterday when they went into Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City and held the defending champions to a scoreless draw.
It was the team's third consecutive scoreless draw on the road and, combined with the 1-0 home win against Houston, means the Reign have only seen one goal scored in the last four matches.
Laura Harvey deployed an identical starting lineup as last weekend, with Havana Solaun filling in for the injured Manon Melis on the right wing. But this week Melis was healthy enough to make the bench.
Much like in the previous scoreless match against Sky Blue, it wasn't as if there were no chances. In just the third minute, Bev Yanez headed down a long pass into Kim Little's stride, and the Scottish star juked around Becky Sauerbrunn to launch a shot perfectly placed into the top corner. Unfortunately Nicole Barnhart made a word class diving save to tip the shot over the bar and keep the game scoreless.
Seattle kept most of the possession in the early going and had a dense run of corner kicks, but wasn't able to generate any more chances as good as that one. Then as the game wore on Kansas City warmed into it and started creating chances of their own.
In the 36th minute Jess Fishlock made a rare bad decision, leaving a backpass short and triggering a 2-on-1 break for Kansas City. A combination of Kendall Fletcher's defensive positioning, Fishlock's hustle in getting back to pressure, and Hope Solo's timing in closing down forced Heather O'Reilly to push the ball wide and run out of field, eventually shooting into the side netting.
In the second half the brutal heat slowed the game down. A few more chances were created, but nothing telling. Then as the game wound toward injury time substitute Carson Pickett was ejected on what looked like an extremely soft straight red card for leaving her studs high challenging for a ball. Left down a player Seattle was content to take the point and go home.
A draw on the road is nothing to be ashamed of, especially against the defending champions in hot and humid conditions and playing the last few minutes unjustly shorthanded. But if the team wants to get back into the playoff picture, much less improve on the last couple of years of losing in the final, they need to heal the offense.
But there are hopeful signs for next week. They're returning home. Melis is back in the squad. Naho Kawasumi is expected to return to the team. And they'll be playing the Boston Breakers, which is currently in a shambles after giving up 7 goals to Western New York on Friday. That's a situation that should, finally, get Seattle's attack unstuck.