After putting in their worst performance of the season against Boston on the road, Seattle Reign FC (5-3-5) will be looking for redemption this weekend when they host the Boston Breakers (3-6-4). The match kicks off at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, July 15 at 7 PM PT, and will stream on go90 and the NWSL website.
The match marks Laura Harvey’s 100th NWSL regular season game with the club. Harvey is the winningest coach in NWSL history, and she hopes to add to that total on Saturday.
“Harvey changed my life and she knows that,” said Jess Fishlock, reflecting on her time with Harvey and the Reign. “She had me believing in her from game one, and she has a whole club believing in her still at game 100.”
Seattle’s opponent for Harvey’s centennial, the Boston Breakers, currently sits 9th in the league after a tough June saw them fall in the standings. But Boston finished last week with a 0–0 tie against the Chicago Red Stars, which marked the third straight shutout for Breakers goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme. A Boston defense that used to be a leaky pipeline for goals has been stable and steady—allowing just one goal in its last four matches.
It’s the offensive side that has been difficult for the Breakers, who have likewise only scored once in four games. In fact, the team put in three of its nine total goals for the season against Seattle when the two sides faced each other in April. That raises the question: how did that April result happen? Playmaker Rose Lavelle was a huge reason for Boston’s win, but for Harvey, it was mostly about the mental side of the game.
“I honestly think in that game it was a mentality thing for us,” she said. “They wanted it more than we did on that particular day. It was good for us to get that because it gave us a bit of a spark. We can’t just show up and expect to win games.”
Don’t expect that same Seattle side to show up this weekend. They’ll be hungry for a win after their lackluster performance in Boston, and last week’s loss to North Carolina. Here are four things to watch for heading into Saturday’s match.
- Control the midfield: In Boston, the Seattle midfield was dominated in surprising fashion. Lavelle wove through Seattle’s midfielders with ease, and Angela Salem was a steady holding midfielder—breaking up Reign attacks, as she’s continued to do all season. This weekend, Reign FC will again be without Jess Fishlock, who provides a much-needed tenacity and spark in the midfield. At the same time, the Breakers continue to struggle in the midfield without Lavelle, who suffered a hamstring strain in June while playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Whichever team dominates the midfield this time around should also, in turn, dominate the attack.
- No silly mistakes: Both goals Seattle conceded against North Carolina were preventable. The first was the result of a misplayed cross after Seattle carelessly turned the ball over on a throw-in, and the second came from a corner kick. The Reign need to stop giving up goals on second chances and set pieces.
- Score early: Boston has a tendency to slowly work into matches. Lately, they’ve been effective defensively because they’ve withstood early pressure. At the same time, 10 of the 14 goals the Breakers conceded this season have come in the first half. Boston has lost all six matches where the opponent scored first. Seattle can help make that seven with an early goal.
- Withstand the pressure: Boston has conceded the most fouls and earned the most yellow cards in the league. Midfielder Rosie White leads the league in yellow cards, with six, while left back Alyssa Chapman picked up her fifth last weekend, which means she’ll have to sit out this weekend’s match. Seattle’s game is built on the ability to possess and move the ball around the field, which can be hard to do against a team that has a tendency to foul. For Reign FC, it will be important to make those quick passes and switches in play—not allowing Boston to disrupt their flow.
Heading into the second half of the season, Seattle can’t afford to drop points at home. But if the squad bounces back from a tough loss, and manages to dictate the flow of the match, the three points are theirs for the taking against Boston.
Injury Report / Player Absences
Boston: OUT: Alyssa Chapman (Yellow card accumulation), Rose Lavelle (strained left hamstring), Emilie Haavi (UEFA Women’s EURO)