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Reign Report: A Dash of revenge

After a late-game loss to Houston in May, Seattle Reign will be looking for redemption this weekend.

Reign vs. Dash: Photos Mike Russell / Sounder at Heart

What You’ll Watch

Seattle Reign FC will host the Houston Dash this Saturday night at Memorial Stadium and will look to avenge their first ever loss to the Dash that happened earlier this season.

Houston currently sits in seventh place in the standings with a record of 4-5-5 (17 points in 14 games played; 1.21 ppg) while Reign FC are in second place with a record of 6-3-5 (23 points in 14 games played; 1.64 ppg). The last time out, Reign FC defeated their Cascadia rivals, Portland Thorns FC, 1-0 on a late strike from Jodie Taylor. Houston defeated the Orlando Pride 2-1 their last time on the pitch, June 27.

Both teams play again on Wednesday, July 11, making squad rotation likely for both coaches.

A Look at the Enemy

Last Five: W-W-T-L-W with nine goals scored and eight conceded

Leading Goal Scorer: Sofia Huerta, five

Assist Leader: Thembi Kgatlana, three

Injury Report, Suspensions and International Duty

Houston

Out: Kristie Mewis (left ACL sprain — SEI)

Suspensions: N/A | International Duty: N/A

Seattle

Out: Yael Averbuch (illness), Kiersten Dallstream (left quad strain), Jess Fishlock (right quad strain), Jaycie Johnson (right knee sprain — D45)

Suspensions: N/A | International Duty: N/A

Match Officials

REFEREE: Reyna Fonseca

AR1: Alicia Messer

AR2: Benjamin Wooten

4th: Jeff Arthurholtz

What to Watch

The Houston Dash have been somewhat of a positive surprise this season. After an offseason coaching change and some surprising draft and trade moves, the team entered the season with frustrated fans and skeptical observers. Fast forward to today, and the club might sit in seventh, but that is two spots higher than many predicted them to finish. They also are just five points behind fourth-place Chicago with two games in hand.

The Dash currently line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Rachel Daly serving as the lone striker higher up the field. Their wing players — typically Kealia Ohai and Nichelle Prince — have a lot of pace and love to stretch defenses. Prince is near the top of the league in offside calls, a sign of her desire to test opponents with her speed and push offside traps. Ohai, meanwhile, is incredibly dangerous on the dribble. When she gets the ball on the wing, she is off to the races, streaking down the left flank. She’s also not afraid to shoot from distance, so Seattle’s defenders will have to mark her tightly and try to keep her in front of them.

What Houston lacked early in the season was a true holding midfielder, and it made them vulnerable in the midfield. They recently signed Australian defender Clare Polkinghorne, and last week pushed Amber Brooks into that holding role. Brooks provides a lot more stability and defensive acumen, but they are still vulnerable in that spot between the attacking midfield and the defense. With Jodie Taylor making runs into the box, Seattle should have space near the top of the box to create some shot opportunities.

The addition of Sofia Huerta into the midfield has also been a boost for the Dash. Acquired in a three-way trade with Chicago and Utah, Huerta is the playmaker Houston has needed this season. She helps the team play with more urgency through the middle of the field, looking to push the attack quickly. Huerta already has two goals in her two matches with the Dash, and if Reign FC want to end that streak, they’ll need to cut off the passing lanes to her.

Houston is comfortable sitting back deep and defending, letting teams dominate possession. They are at the bottom of the league in possession, passes, pass accuracy, and cross accuracy. This is how they trick teams. Houston will let you feel like you have total control of the match, and then pounce in the waning moments out of nowhere. That’s how the Dash beat Seattle 2-1 in May, and then did the same thing to the Orlando Pride last week — scoring two late goals in a four-minute span to beat Orlando 2-1 on the road.

The Dash have scored 11 of their 16 goals in the second half, while only six Seattle Reign goals have come in the final 45 minutes of a game. To exact some revenge against Houston after that late-game loss in May, Seattle will need to be organized for all 90 minutes and defend well on the transition. Oh, and be sure to convert the many chances they will likely create.

Quick Keys

  • Defend Houston’s transition play
  • Cut off balls into Huerta
  • Build play through the midfield
  • Don’t fall asleep — stay sharp all match

How to Watch

Date/Time: Saturday, July 7 @ 7:00 PM

Location: UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium — Seattle, WA

Streaming: go90, nwslsoccer.com