UPDATE: Reign FC had the far better chances in the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net. The team struggled to time their runs and balls into the box perfectly and had a number of near misses. It was scoreless heading into the second half, where the Spirit came out aggressive. Reign kept the game level, and it wasn’t until Elise Kellond-Knight came onto the field that the squad started to put pressure on Washington.
Reign FC had a few great looks in the final 10 minutes of the match, but unfortunately Spirit goalkeeper Audrey Bledsoe was up for the challenge. The game ended 0-0.
Reign FC have a bye week to rest and recover before taking on Sky Blue FC at home on May 18.
Reign FC are looking to bounce back after a rough trip to Chicago last weekend. It’s another road battle for the squad, a cross-country trip to face the Washington Spirit. The match kicks off at 4 PM PT on Saturday and will stream on Yahoo! Sports.
The Spirit have a new coach and, while they only have two matches under their belt, are demonstrating a renewed effort to advance the ball smartly and with purpose. While last year’s Spirit attempted to be a possession-focused team, that often resulted in moving the ball around with no urgency and no forward movement.
The Spirit backline plays a big role in this buildup. The centerbacks lead the team in touches, with the outside backs close behind. They look to connect with midfielders Andi Sullivan, the No. 6 for Washington, and rookie Jordan DiBiasi, a creative midfielder who is poised to become the fulcrum of the Spirit attack.
This doesn’t appear to be the same Spirit, but hopefully Reign FC are ready to get the best of the other Washington.
Absences: Injury, international duty and suspension
Reign FC: Jasmyne Spencer and Taylor Smith are out with ACL tears. Steph Catley is still dealing with her calf strain and Morgan Andrews is being rested with a hamstring strain. Megan Rapinoe and Allie Long are with the USWNT preparing for France.
Washington Spirit: Tori Huster is out with a left hip injury, while Mallory Eubanks is pregnant and out for the season. McKenzie Berryhill and Tiffany McCarty are questionable. Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh are with their USWNT teammates.
Keys to the Game
- Don’t concede early: For three straight games, Reign FC has allowed the other team to score first and score early in the match. That changes the flow of the game. The team cannot give up an early goal.
- Pressure the backline: The young Spirit backline has looked solid in their first two matches, but these are four players who have spent zero time together until this year. Because they have so much time on the ball, they may be prone to an easy giveaway under pressure. It’s how Utah scored against them.
- Control the midfield: While it seemed like Reign FC had one of the best midfield options heading into this season, the combination of players who rotated through the midfield to start the year haven’t dominated as expected. They need to not only dictate play through the middle of the field, but move the ball with more urgency.
5’ - Rumi Utsugi tests the near post early
48’ - Spirit put the pressure on early in the second half
71’ - So close for Jodie Taylor.
85’ - Bledsoe coming up with a HUGE save.
87’ - And another big stop from Bledsoe.
Darian Jenkins returns! So does Betos, and Theresa Nielsen is back at RB. McNabb slots into the midfield.
How to Watch
When: Saturday, May 4, 4 PM PT
Where: Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex | Boyds, Maryland
Live stream (for users in the U.S.): Yahoo! Sports desktop and app
Live stream (for users outside the U.S.): NWSL website and app
More info: How to stream NWSL matches in 2019
Join the Discussion
This is your Reign FC v. Washington Spirit gamethread. Head to @rovalks on Twitter for real-time updates, or join the conversation in the comments below.