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Seattle Reign v. Orlando Pride: Gamethread, how to watch

A win puts Seattle two points out of a playoff spot.

Seattle Reign vs. Orlando Pride: Photos Photo Credit - MikeRussellFoto

Due to the incoming Hurricane Irma, Seattle Reign FC’s match against the Orlando Pride has moved up a few days and will kick off Thursday, September 7 at 5 p.m. PT. The game will stream on the go90 and NWSL apps and websites.

It is a match with huge implications, as Seattle looks to gain ground on the Pride and squeeze into a playoff spot. Orlando’s current record of 10–6–5 puts the squad five points clear of the Reign at the moment (8–7–6). A win would ensure the Reign are just two points back with Orlando having to face the top-ranked North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns for its final two matches.

Seattle is walking into a tough road battle. The Pride are one of the most dangerous teams in the league right now, and they’re even better at home. The team is coming off of their fifth straight victory after defeating the Boston Breakers 4-2, and Orlando has outscored opponents 16-4 in those matches.

However, the team only faced one team in the top four in August — a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Red Stars to start the month. The wins came against the Washington Spirit, Sky Blue FC, the Boston Breakers, and FC Kansas City. Eight of those 16 goals were scored in just two matches. I imagine you can guess the teams Orlando faced in these games — yes, the Spirit and Sky Blue, the only teams that have given up more goals than Reign FC.

Still, Orlando’s competition shouldn’t be used to diminish the team’s dangerous attack. The combination of Marta and Alex Morgan has been lethal. Morgan scored seven goals and assisted on two others in August, which earned her Player of the Month honors. Marta, meanwhile, put up some amazing numbers herself. The Brazilian scored three goals, added two assists, and created 13 chances in the month of August.

The duo is most dangerous when Marta drops into the midfield and gets a lot of time on the ball. She can run for miles and loves to be involved in the buildup of play. In the Pride’s 5-0 win over Sky Blue, for example, Marta went 58 for 61 in passing. Not only is that amazingly accurate, it’s far too many touches on the ball for someone of her caliber.

The last time the Reign played Orlando, which was in May, Marta lined up on the left side of the attack. Naho Kawasumi frequently dropped back to provide support on defense and partner with Rebekah Stott to shut down Marta. They were both rather effective, but it’s hard to predict exactly where Marta will start. She’s recently played left forward, right forward, and center attacking midfield.

Regardless of where Marta lines up, it will be critical for Seattle to lock down the midfield. If there is one area where Orlando remains vulnerable, it’s in the middle. While Alanna Kennedy has made a pretty seamless transition from centerback to holding midfield this season, she can sit back a little deep while her midfield partners like Camila and Marta push high in the attack — causing a big gap in the middle of the field.

Seattle can exploit that on both offense and defense — getting Jess Fishlock and Christine Nairn the ball in space to find runs higher up the field, and applying high pressure to deny balls into Marta, Morgan, and speedy wingers like Chioma Ubogagu and Jasmyne Spencer.

The Reign FC backline is going to have its hands full and will need to be alert for all 90 minutes. Last week, Laura Harvey signed Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who is one of the best goalies in the world yet was riding the bench in Houston. Williams quickly jumped in to help organize the backline and lead them to a road win against Houston last weekend. That organization will be even more critical as the team looks to build out of the back and stop Orlando’s offensive firepower.

“Lydia’s biggest attribute for us is her ability to play out the back,” said Harvey. “She is international class and brings experience. I thought she played well, despite the quick turnaround and everything she had to go through.”

Seattle should have their offensive spark, Megan Rapinoe, fully back this match. After getting 12 minutes in against Houston, Rapinoe is officially off the injury report. Her teammates would be smart to get her the ball early — she’ll be going against a backup right back, as Kristen Edmonds will miss the match with an excused absence. Camila and Ali Krieger have both seen time in this position, though Krieger has looked much more comfortable at centerback.

There’s a lot on the line Thursday evening. The league takes a week off after this match for a FIFA international break, so the team has plenty of time to rest and recover. It’s do or die. They must demand nothing less than a win against Orlando.

Injury Report / Absences

Seattle: OUT: Diana Matheson (SEI – left knee ACL tear)

Orlando: OUT: McKenzie Berryhill (SEI – disabled list), Kristen Edmonds (excused absence)

How to Watch

Time/Date: Thursday, September 7, 5 p.m. PT
Location: Orlando City Stadium, Orlando
TV: None
Streaming: go90 app (iOS/Android), NWSL app (iOS/Android), go90.com, NWSL website

This is your Reign FC gamethread. Watch and discuss with us.

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