On Wednesday, August 16, Seattle Reign FC (6‑5‑6) concludes its three-game regular season series against the Chicago Red Stars (8‑4‑5) with a match on the road at Toyota Park. The game kicks off at 5 p.m. PT and will stream on go90 and the NWSL website.
The first time the two sides met, Chicago dominated the midfield and took Reign FC down 1-0, though the Red Stars easily could have scored more goals if it weren’t for some brilliant saves by Haley Kopmeyer. The dynamic duo of Christen Press and Sofia Huerta was in strong form, and they both wreaked havoc on Seattle’s backline. The second meeting between the two sides saw Seattle walk away with a 2-1 win thanks to two Megan Rapinoe penalty kicks.
Both teams head into this mid-week match after suffering a disappointing loss at home. The Red Stars will be looking to bounce back from a 3-2 home loss against the Portland Thorns. Seattle will be searching for just its second road win of the season, which would be a critical boost given that five of Reign FC’s final seven matches are on the road.
What to Watch
The Red Stars attack focuses on getting the ball to forward Christen Press, who has the ability to create a shot for herself out of nothing. Press scored her ninth goal last week and Sofia Huerta added her fifth. These two have figured out how to work off one another, and when they are in sync, the Red Stars attack is quite dangerous.
The Reign FC defensive line needs to stay organized, and communicate frequently, to keep Press and Huerta in check. They also need to close down instantly when either player gets a ball at the top of the box, as both have a lethal shot from this range.
Chicago has been lining up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Julie Ertz moving into a new role this season as a holding midfielder. She is the key that holds Chicago’s offense and defense together. Ertz is a fantastic shield for the backline, and her positioning and strength ensures that Chicago wins the ball back as quickly as possible. She’s a strong passer as well, and if Reign FC wants to dictate the play of the game, they’re going to have to ensure Ertz has limited time on the ball.
Seattle likes to build its attack from the back and focus on possession, Chicago plays much more direct — similar to North Carolina. This has given Seattle trouble in the past. However, Reign FC displayed many positive moments last weekend against the Courage, especially when the team moved the ball from out wide into the center of the midfield, and then back outside again. Quick passing and dynamic movement in the midfield will be critical.
The good news for Seattle is that Jess Fishlock will be back in the lineup. The bad news for Chicago is that Jess Fishlock will be back in the lineup, and the Red Stars have a few important players who might miss the match due to injury. Midfielder Dani Colaprico had her wrist stepped out last week and is questionable with a sprain. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher has a groin strain, and centerback Katie Naughton is also questionable with a nasal contusion.
Seattle has yet to defeat Chicago on the road. But if the Reign can dictate the style of play and move the ball effectively, the squad could leave with a win. Seattle could leap over Orlando and into fourth place, the final playoff spot, with those three points.
Seattle: OUT: Diana Matheson (left knee ACL tear), Megan Rapinoe (left knee meniscus tear)
Chicago: QUESTIONABLE: Danielle Colaprico (left wrist contusion), Katie Naughton (nasal contusion), Alyssa Naeher (right groin strain)
How to Watch
Time: Wednesday, August 16, 5 PM PT
Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL
Online: go90 app (iOS/Android), NWSL app (iOS/Android), go90.com, NWSLSoccer.com
This is your Reign FC gamethread. Watch and discuss with us.