Seattle Reign FC returned to the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium on Sunday evening, hosting the Orlando Pride after their two-match road trip a week ago. Both teams were looking to head into the June FIFA break claiming the full three points as the dog days of the NWSL summer are just around the corner and those with aspirations of clinching a spot in the NWSL Playoffs are going to start making a push. While the players and the 5,251 in attendance were hoping for goals, the wishes were not fulfilled as the teams played to a scoreless draw.
Orlando Pride coming into town meant familiar faces to Seattle Reign FC fans in different jerseys, as defender Carson Pickett and goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer both got the start. Midfielder Christine Nairn would also make an appearance as a substitute in the 76th minute, but it was the first time the trio had returned to Seattle after last season’s massive trade that saw Stephanie Catley and Jasmyne Spencer come to Seattle. However, with the result being a scoreless draw, it’s usually because of some solid goalkeeping and tight defense — and that’s what took the spotlight.
Over the course of the match, both sides had spells where their attackers were peppering the opposing goalkeeper, and when it mattered the most, both goalkeepers came up big when they did. For Seattle, the biggest moment for Seattle’s Lydia Williams came in the 74th minute when Orlando’s Emily Van Egmond sent in a low shot off an attempted Reign clearance that forced Williams to kick save it and emphatically call on her defenders to stay organized for a would-be second chance attack.
Let's revisit the big time save @lydsaussie made in the 74th minute. From the press box and in real time, it looked it was going to beat her left side. From this angle, tho... *exhale* pic.twitter.com/kZwNHoVAIP— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) June 4, 2018
There was also a moment in the first half that Seattle Reign FC should be thanking the soccer gods, because for all intents and purposes, it should have been a goal for Orlando. A free kick in the 22nd by Carson Pickett into the box found the head of Alanna Kennedy, but her effort bounced off the crossbar and straight in the air and down to Sydney Leroux, who from a point-blank position should have found the back of the net but inexplicably her header went wide.
For Orlando’s goalkeeper, Haley Kopmeyer, she was solid between the posts this evening. While Seattle had their fair share of looks on Orlando’s goal, most of their shots went high or wide and just lacked that bit of quality that fans know they have. Kopmeyer’s biggest save came in the 51st minute when Nahomi Kawasumi blasted one from distance and the Pride goalkeeper went up and right to punch it over.
It was that lack of finishing that Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said that would be the focus for him and his coaching staff to work during the FIFA break and looking ahead to preparing for their next match at Washington Spirit two weeks from now.
While Andonovski was proud of the team’s effort on defense, claiming a second straight shutout, he still brought it back to what gets the wins. “At the end of the day, another shutout, second shutout in a row and I’m happy for that. We’re reaching our goal that we set out for ourselves in the pre-season and now we just have to score goals and put the game away. Ultimately if you don’t score, you’ll never win, ” said Andonovski.
The draw keeps Seattle Reign FC second in the league table with 18 points, two ahead of third place Orlando Pride with 16 points. North Carolina Courage are at the top of the table with 30 points.
And with the FIFA break, Seattle Reign FC are off for a few days until Saturday, June 16 where they head to Boyds, Maryland and take on the Washington Spirit. Seven Reign FC players will feature in international matches during the FIFA break, but are all expected to return to Seattle in time for the June 16 match.