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Seattle Reign FC v Orlando Pride: player ratings

Some patented late-game Fishlock magic salvaged a point.

Photo credit - MikeRussellFoto

For the second week in a row, Seattle Reign FC faced an opponent dealing with the impacts of a hurricane. In this case rather than changing the match location, it was decided that they would face the Orlando Pride two days early, since fortuitously they had traveled directly to Orlando after their match against Houston in Dallas.

Even with the short rest and vast uncertainty surrounding the logistics of the match and post-game travel, the Reign were finally back to full strength. One notable change was made to the lineup that defeated Houston the week before, with Megan Rapinoe returning to the starting XI in place of Naho Kawasumi, while Bev Yanez swapped sides in the attacking band to accommodate the switch.

Orlando had been hot, winning their last five games by a combined 16-4, and a win here would have secured their first-ever spot in the playoffs. After a back-and-forth game that saw neither team able to break through despite a few dangerous looks, the teams exchanged goals in stoppage time to split the points and just barely keep open another potential route to the playoffs for the Reign.

Starters

Lydia Williams (6; 4 saves) – I mentioned last week that the true demonstration of Williams’ ability to organize the back line would come against Orlando, who were averaging 3.2 goals per game in the past five outings. For 90 minutes she was more than up to the task, standing strong and facing down four shots, including a fantastic diving save in the 49th minute on a curling Camila opportunity that looked destined for the top corner. However, Seattle’s overall defensive woes continued, with the team conceding 20 total shots, including one off the woodwork just minutes before the huge save. On the Pride goal, Alex Morgan found space behind the Reign defense and feigned a shot toward the near post, freezing Williams in place as the ball went past her on the opposite side. I’m sure Williams would like that chance back, but otherwise she was up to the challenge the Pride presented.

Carson Pickett (5; caution 37’) – Pickett was tasked with tracking up-and-coming attacker Rachel Hill, and the results were mixed. Camila pressed forward frequently and put in several dangerous crosses, including one that Hill clanged off the post. One of the biggest challenges for the Reign defense was how much the Pride interchanged in positioning; Camila would frequently pop up in the middle of the park or even on Stott’s side, while other attackers such as Marta would drift into the vacated space. Although Seattle was often pinned back because of this, they did well to hold their shape.

Pickett earned her caution for a sloppy foul where she basically body-checked Camila as she dribbled past, and later in the game Hill burned past Pickett to pick up a through ball and put in a shot from a tough angle, but overall she did well considering the tough opponent.

Lauren Barnes (6; caution 91’) – Barnes was having a solid game up until the tactical foul that resulted in her fifth caution of the season late in the match. She will now miss next weekend’s game due to accumulation. Since returning to the middle of the defense, Lu has simplified her game and returned to a focus on good defensive positioning and short, smart passes in the back as the team builds possession.

Rachel Corsie (5) – Corsie, Barnes and the Reign defense have looked better over the past few games, but the team is still giving up a significant number of shots (20 in this match, compared to only 10 taken). One of the reasons they’ve had more success has been better positioning; in this game that included Corsie blocking several shots early in the game, along with pushing attacks toward the outside and forcing lower probability shots.

The one time she didn’t do well in this regard came on the Orlando goal, where Alex Morgan slipped behind Corsie to pick up a through ball on a counter, and Corsie raced back in parallel and might have had position on her, but didn’t shift over to challenge in time since she appeared to be positioning herself to defend against a potential cross.

Rebekah Stott (6) – Stott continues to have by far the most activity on the defense, this week leading the team with 72 touches, which was more than double her opposite side counterpart Pickett. She also had a team-high 5 tackles for the second game in a row. Aside from getting caught up field once early in the game when Orlando had a quick counter, which allowed Alex Morgan to slip behind her, her defensive positioning was again smart, showing dramatic improvement over her struggles in away games earlier in the season. In attack, her decisions about when to hold the ball and dribble have been much better.

Jess Fishlock (6; goal 94’; PotM) – Fishlock has moved into the playmaking midfield role since her return from injury, and although it took a while for her to find her footing in this game, it ended in quite spectacular fashion, as she rose up to head home a gorgeous Naho Kawasumi cross to level the score one minute after it looked like Orlando had secured their spot in the post-season. Aside from that she showed some vintage defensive prowess on a good challenge and interception in the 27th minute, and a very nice switch in the 38th minute to find Rapinoe and start a Reign attack. However, she was nearly responsible for a goal in the 47th minute when she lost track of Rachel Hill, who raced past her to the far post to head in a Camila cross, but slammed the ball off the post.

Rumi Utsugi (6) – Until the late Fishlock goal, Utsugi had by far the most active night of any Reign midfielder. She took a team high four shots, although none were on target (two blocked, two wide), but her positioning and willingness to shoot were much needed in this game. Utsugi entered the season as the presumptive defensive mid, but she’s shown her versatility and attacking prowess quite a bit this season (that said, Seattle could still really use a dedicated defensive mid!).

Christine Nairn (5; off 73’) – Nairn had a fairly quiet night in the midfield, not really doing anything spectacular or disastrous, but even so she was reasonably involved in moving the ball up field. She was second only to Lu Barnes in passing accuracy, finding her target on 81% of her passes. Most importantly, the midfield and defense did what they needed to in order to contain Marta, who, although she created six chances, had only one off-target shot and was kept off the score sheet.

Megan Rapinoe (5) – Rapinoe played a full 90 in just her second game back from injury, and looked no worse for the wear, although she ultimately didn’t have any significant impact on the game. She struggled to find space as the Pride pressured her hard and kept defenders close to her. Her best moments came on set pieces, with a very nicely placed corner in the first minute of the match and a great free kick near the end of the game, but between those moments she was caught offside four times and registered just one shot on goal.

Merritt Mathias (4; caution 57’, off 81’) – Over the last two games, Mathias has moved back into the target forward role, tasked with hounding opposing defenses with high pressure and stretching the line. Unfortunately, like Rapinoe she ended up offside far too often, getting whistled three times. Because of that, she struggled to get involved in play, ending with a disappointing 24 touches and no looks on goal.

Beverly Yanez (4; off 61’) – Yanez once again played a wide attacking role, this time moving to the right side to start in place of Naho. She had a rough game, completing only 55% of her 20 pass attempts on the night, as she struggled in a somewhat unfamiliar role instead of her preferred target spot at the tip of the attack.

Substitutes

Nahomi Kawasumi (6; on 61’, assist 94’) – Naho’s entry significantly improved the attack for Seattle. Almost from her first touch, she was disrupting play on the right side of the field, and she had some promising through balls and crosses, the most notable of which was her 94th minute assist that found the head of Jess Fishlock in traffic for the equalizing goal. Although she only played a half-hour of this match, she led the Reign with three chances created, highlighting just how anemic the attack was before her entry.

Maddie Bauer (incomplete; on 73’) – As in several recent games, Bauer came on as a defensive midfielder and freed the remaining midfielders to push forward on offense. She had good vision to intercept a Pride pass in the 87th minute and quickly spring a counterattack that led to a Fishlock shot, but that was one of her only good passes in a game where she completed only 5 of her 13 attempts. On the Pride goal she had a poor touch when trying to flick on a Corsie header near midfield, which led to a Dani Weatherholt interception and break the other way, but the play took long enough to develop that the team should have been able to recover in time to defend.

Katie Johnson (incomplete; on 81’) – Johnson had two good looks in her short time on the field. First, she was the target of Bauer’s through ball in the 87th minute and laid off a ball to nicely set up Jess Fishlock for a shot that unfortunately went straight to Ashlyn Harris. A minute later she had a great chance of her own after a nice give-and-go sequence with Naho that sprung her through the defensive line, but her attempt to loft the ball over the onrushing Harris went just high.

Officials

Daniel Gutierrez (5) – Let’s cut right to the chase – it’s no surprise that star athletes often get preferential treatment and some degree of deference from officials. The Reign have occasionally benefitted from this, but in this match the primary beneficiary was Alex Morgan, who could have seen a red and a yellow for two of her fouls. The first was in the 41st minute, when she made a dangerous, studs-up tackle from behind on Jess Fishlock that left the Welsh dragon on the ground in pain for a minute. On that, Gutierrez whistled for a foul and gave Morgan a reprimand, but no card.

In the 74th minute, Morgan had another late challenge where she stepped on Corsie’s foot, but despite whistling for another foul still no card was forthcoming. Ultimately, the result was probably fair for both sides and there weren’t any egregious missed calls or errors, but if either of those decisions were made differently we might be talking about a very different match.

Poll

Who was your Reign FC player of the match?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Jess Fishlock
    (14 votes)
  • 35%
    Naho Kawasumi
    (11 votes)
  • 19%
    Rebekah Stott
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (note in comments)
    (0 votes)
31 votes total Vote Now

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