On Sunday, September 3, Seattle Reign FC heads to Texas for a huge match against the Houston Dash. It’s a game that could have significant playoff implications for Seattle, either positive or negative depending on the result. The game will kick off at 5 p.m. PT and has moved from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston to Frisco, Texas, home of FC Dallas, due to flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
Houston hasn’t played a game in two weeks, as their home match last weekend was postponed due to the storm. On top of all the turmoil in their home city, the team is also dealing with new or missing players due to trades and a home match away from their actual home. It would be silly to write the team off, however. They’ll be well rested and fighting hard to represent a city that needs a little hope.
“I expect them to come out fighting. I think they’ll be raring to go because they’ve had a little bit of time off, and we’ve got to go out there and respond,” said Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey.
The Dash will have to battle without Carli Lloyd, who is still recovering from an ankle sprain, and Morgan Brian, who was traded to the Chicago Red Stars in exchange for Kristie Mewis. Houston also lost Lydia Williams to Seattle, in exchange for a 2018 draft pick, and picked up defender Meghan Cox, who was released by Portland.
Seattle should have the advantage in the midfield, and it is going to be important to utilize that — getting Jess Fishlock on the ball early to spring the Reign attack. Limiting creative playmaker Andressinha in the midfield will be crucial as well. She has great vision and can send dangerous balls through to forwards Rachel Daly and Nichelle Prince, who each have three goals this season.
After putting in one of their worst home performances of all time — against their rivals, to boot — Reign FC needs to come out strong and show the fight they had earlier this summer to grit out points. They might be gifted an appearance by Megan Rapinoe, who traveled with the squad and was upgraded to questionable. Rapinoe has been out for a month after surgery to repair a meniscus tear in her knee.
We’ve seen what the attack looks like without Rapinoe. It hasn’t been great. Having her unpredictability, high pressure, and service into the box can only be a good thing as the squad pushes to make it into the playoffs.
Seattle enters the match five points behind the Chicago Red Stars, who are in fourth place in the league — the final playoff spot. Chicago plays league leading North Carolina just a few hours before Seattle kicks off, and then has to face Portland later in September. With just four matches remaining, every point is critical.
Sunday’s match is a good opportunity for Seattle to gain some ground. They should be able to do that if they move the ball effectively through the midfield and put in a more organized performance on defense. Hopefully, the squad can walk away with three points and a lot of money raised for Hurricane Harvey relief through ticket sales.
Seattle: OUT: Diana Matheson (SEI – left knee ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: Megan Rapinoe (left knee meniscus tear)
Houston: OUT: Carli Lloyd (left ankle sprain), Kealia Ohai (SEI – left knee ACL tear); DOUBTFUL: Kelly Conheeney (whiplash)