The result will be frustrating for Seattle and their fans because of missed chances to put the ball in the back of the net, but it was as much due to Washington Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe having a night to remember.
Available substitutes tonight are Andrews, Betos, Kawasumi, Kleiner, McNabb, and Spencer pic.twitter.com/8Bpv2mwbHT— Seattle Reign FC (@ReignFC) June 16, 2018
Seattle saw most of their usual starters return to the eleven tonight, with midfielder Jess Fishlock getting the night off after her two World Cup Qualifier matches with Wales over the week and being ruled questionable on the league injury report. With Megan Rapinoe back in the fold, you know where the genesis of the attack would be coming from, while Allie Long’s return meant dictating the tempo at midfield.
The first half saw Seattle have the ball far longer than Washington, with the stats report at halftime showing Seattle’s possession at 65% — though both sides had threats on the goal. Most of Seattle’s chances were rather audacious ones from distance, but definitely if they just had a bit of dip could have been trouble for Washington.
The second half started with a pivotal moment when Seattle was awarded a penalty kick after Spirit defender Estelle Johnson was called for handball in the box trying to block a cross from Reign FC defender Theresa Nielsen. Usually automatic from the penalty spot, Megan Rapinoe’s attempt was a low, driven one, but Bledsoe guess correctly and smothered it.
The save built Washington’s confidence as the ensuing 15 minutes saw them knocking on Seattle’s goal. Credit to Seattle’s defense, helmed by goalkeeper Lydia Williams; they made the crucial, final blocks when they needed to.
Seattle regained some of the tempo and had their chances of knocking on Washington’s goal, but it was Aubrey Bledsoe’s night as she was where she needed to be on every ball from a Seattle attacker. There was this solid effort from forward Jasmyne Spencer...
...and you know you’re having a good night when you can punch out an Olimpico attempt by Megan Rapinoe.
And then there was this long ball from Steph Catley to Megan Rapinoe, who then headed in a teardrop that could have been the match-winner, but Bledsoe was the bigger player and surely put in a performance that should get her some consideration for NWSL Player of the Week honors.
When Seattle Reign FC resumed training after the FIFA international break, head coach Vlatko Andonovski said that the team needs to start finishing their chances. While a shot or two lacked quality that we’re used to seeing, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Just tonight, in Boyds, Maryland, the opposing goalkeeper was just better.
With their result and others around the league, Seattle remains second in the league table, tied with Orlando Pride at 19 points. North Carolina Courage is still at the top of the table with 30 points, but they received their first loss of the season, falling to Utah Royals. And wouldn’t you know it, Seattle’s next opponent is North Carolina Courage and the two sides meet up in Memorial Stadium next weekend with a 1 PM kickoff.