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Reign Report: Time again to take the Spirit out of Washington

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Seattle’s international players are back.

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What You’ll Watch

Seattle Reign FC return from a week off and hit the road to take on the Washington Spirit in Boyds, Maryland. This is the second of three meetings between the two clubs this season. Reign FC won the previous encounter by a score of 2-1 to open the season.

The Spirit currently sit in eighth place with a record of 2-7-3 (nine points in 12 games played; 0.75 ppg) while Reign FC are in second with a record of 5-2-3 (18 points in ten games played; 1.8 ppg). The last time out, the Spirit battled to a 0-0 draw against Sky Blue FC. Reign FC battled to a 0-0 draw as well at home against the Orlando Pride.

A Look at the Enemy

Last Five: L-W-L-L-T with three goals scored and six conceded

Leading Goal Scorer: Francisca Ordega & Ashley Hatch, three each

Assist Leader: Andi Sullivan, Havana Solaun, Taylor Smith, Mallory Pugh & Hatch, one each

Injury Report and Suspensions

Washington

Out: Whitney Church (excused absence), Mallory Eubanks (right ankle sprain), Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury – D45), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Mallory Pugh (right PCL sprain), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45), Havana Solaun (left knee chondral avulsion)

Questionable: Kelsey Wys (right knee swelling)

Suspensions: N/A

Seattle

Out: Yael Averbuch (illness), Jaycie Johnson (right knee sprain – D45)

Questionable: Jess Fishlock (right quad strain)

Suspensions: N/A

Match Officials

REFEREE: Lorant Varga

AR1: Maggie Short

AR2: John Krill

4th: Ross Kleinstuber

What to Watch

While the Washington Spirit have struggled during the first half of this season, they still have plenty of dangerous weapons — attackers with the potential to punish defensive mistakes. The team will be without its most talented attacking threat in Mallory Pugh, but Francisca Ordega’s relentless work rate and pressure makes her a player to watch. Ordega is especially threatening on the backside, as she likes to sneak in behind on crosses.

Ashley Hatch lines up at the top of the attacking band. She’s fast and always looking to make diagonal runs behind defenses. While Hatch puts herself in strong positions, she still needs to tighten up her finishing. She will likely get a few shots off — as she does every match — but it will be important for Seattle to keep her further away from goal when she does shoot.

Washington likes to heavily utilize its outside backs in the 4-3-3 formation they play. Left back Caprice Dydasco typically has the most touches for the Spirit. She doesn’t cross the ball frequently, but likes to get up the line and build play with short passes and through balls to teammates. On the other side, after getting called up to the U.S. Women’s National Team last year, Taylor Smith has had a somewhat rocky start to the season. She’s got the potential to make an impact with her runs up the right flank, but still seems to be building her confidence with her new teammates.

With both outside backs liking to push high up the field, it leaves them vulnerable defensively. Seattle punished them early and often in the season opener, especially when attacking Smith’s side. Reign FC is likely to again try to take advantage of that space on the wings — getting Megan Rapinoe the ball and creating space for her to work some magic. I would expect Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra to make some adjustments to address this gap, but he doesn’t always do what I expect.

Seattle also looks to have an advantage in the midfield, although Jess Fishlock returned from international duty with a quad strain and is questionable. Washington has struggled to find a consistent threatening midfield trio — primarily due to injuries. Rose Lavelle, a creative playmaker who can truly change games, is finally close to full fitness after missing nearly 10 months with a hamstring injury. She probably can’t go a full 90 minutes at this point, but she’s a dangerous player that Reign FC will have to watch.

With seven Reign FC players returning from international duty, and numerous players injured for the Washington Spirit, this game is a bit hard to predict. But if Seattle finishes its chances after a recent dry spell, the squad should be returning home with three points.

How to Watch

Date/Time: Saturday, June 16 @ 4:00 PM PT

Location: Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex, Boyds, Maryland

Streaming: go90.com (U.S.), NWSLSoccer.com (International)