The first match between the two sides happened at Rio Tinto Stadium in a midweek match on June 27 and it was a scoreless draw. The second encounter was at Memorial Stadium in which the lone goal came from Megan Rapinoe’s head off a Steph Catley corner – and we all know about the story behind the design of that set play, the skepticism that it’d work, and goal celebration. The third encounter between the two had the same score line, same result as the second encounter as Seattle Reign FC defeated Utah Royals 1-0.
The lone goal came in the 48th minute when midfielder Jess Fishlock ascended into the muggy, smoke-filled Utah air (due to wildfires in the state) and connected on a cross from defender Megan Oyster to snap in the goal with her head. It was Fishlock’s first goal on the season and joins an exclusive club of 11 players to have scored a goal in every NWSL season since play began in 2013.
Seattle opens the scoring with a second chance play where Megan Oyster crosses the ball into the box and Jess Fishlock gets some levitation on like the dragon that she is and snaps her head onto it for the goal! #UTAvSEA pic.twitter.com/1NpmywqADN— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) August 11, 2018
It should be noted that the cross from Oyster is her second assist on the season and another piece of evidence that the “Coffee & Valkyries” bump is real. After the match, Fishlock spoke with Dalen Cuff about finally getting a goal on the season.
The game won’t be remembered for having stellar play from either side beyond Seattle’s goal. With kick off temperature in the 90s and heat index having the field feel more like well beyond 100 degrees, the altitude of Utah, and the aforementioned smoke from the wildfires, the league announced extra measures for player safety before the match. Additional hydration breaks were made available (two for each half) and oxygen was made available for any player that may have had breathing issues given the air quality or lack thereof.
Seattle had more chances and shots over the course of the first half, though none had the final bit of quality to really test Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith. Utah would start to develop a groove just before halftime, but with Seattle getting the goal right out the gate of the second half, Utah played the rest of the match chasing to get an equalizer.
The chasing would boil over to frustration and a moment in the 89th minute when it appeared Utah defender Becca Moros clipped Megan Rapinoe on the heels (how you may think about it will likely be based on which team you root for) and Rapinoe’s appeal convinced the ref to give the foul. Moros saw it different and her reaction is now an all-time GIF.
Yes, Moros did receive a yellow card for this.
Utah had an opportunity to salvage a point and bigger picture, their shot at qualifying for the NWSL Playoffs in stoppage time, when Christen Press collected a failed attempt of a Seattle clear-out in the penalty box, but her shot was wide. With it, Utah’s hopes of making it three wins in a week were thwarted and Seattle held on for the 1-0 victory.
The win keeps Seattle in second place on the league table and the results from the rest of the league (specifically Orlando Pride vs Portland Thorns FC) this weekend won’t affect Seattle’s standing. With four matches left for Seattle, the win doesn’t officially claim a playoff spot for them, but they are one step closer to returning to postseason play. Or as Rapinoe said post-match, the win puts them in a good spot.
Next up for Seattle Reign FC is a match back in the comforts of home as they host Chicago Red Stars on Wednesday, August 15. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM and will be broadcast on nwslsoccer.com.