QUICK RECAP: Reign FC once again dominated the first half of their home match, going up 1-0 on a Bethany Balcer goal. They would see the departures of both Darian Jenkins and Kristen McNabb in the first half, giving Morgan Proffitt her first minutes in the midfield and Ifeoma Onumonu more time to make an impact up top.
The Reign had more changes again in the second half, but Jane Campbell came up with a few big plays to keep it 1-0. As the final minutes wore down, Reign became tired and started chasing the ball. They were punished in the 90th minute, when they couldn’t clear the ball out of their defensive third. Christine Nairn got it outside the box and unleashed a solid shot to the right corner of the goal. The game would end 1-1.
Reign FC now get a week off to recover from injury and will host the league-leading Washington Spirit on June 15.
Reign FC (2-1-3, 9 points) look to continue their strong form with another victory on Sunday, as the club hosts the Houston Dash (3-2-1, 10 points) at Cheney Stadium. The match, which kicks off at 1 PM PT, will stream on Yahoo! Sports.
It’s the second time the two sides will be facing off this year, as the Reign traveled down to Houston for the 2019 season opener. It was a poor performance for the Tacoma-based club, who were dominated in almost every category. That includes possession and duels, two categories the Dash were not known for last season, where the club often sat back, absorbed pressure, and looked to counter.
But this is a new Dash. The club is now managed by James Clarkson, who has led the team to the best start of the regular season in club history. And new players like Christine Nairn have helped bring a calmness in possession that the club lacked in recent years.
Houston is coming off a bye week and lost seven players to the World Cup, with the most significant being leading scorer Rachel Daly. They’ll also need to find someone to replace Claire Polkinghorne at centerback, who has partnered alongside Amber Brooks in every match this season.
A win today could put the Reign into 3rd place heading into a one-week break for World Cup group stage.
By The Numbers
6 goals for, 7 goals against
7 goals for, 8 goals against
Absences: Injury, international duty and suspension
- OUT: Jasmyne Spencer (SEI – Knee), Taylor Smith (SEI – Knee), Michelle Betos (SEI Achilles), Bev Yanez (Ankle)
- INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Megan Rapinoe (USA), Allie Long (USA), Celia Jimenez Delgado (ESP), Steph Catley (AUS), Elise Kellond-Knight (AUS), Jodie Taylor (ENG), Lydia Williams (AUS), Rumi Utsugi (JPN)
- OUT: Meleana Shim (Left ankle), Veronica Latsko (Left knee), Kyah Simon (Right thigh)
- QUESTIONABLE: Taylor Comeau (Right Arm)
- INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Lindsay Agnew (CAN), Allysha Chapman (CAN), Nichelle Prince (CAN), Sophie Schmidt (CAN), Rachel Daly (ENG), Clare Polkinghorne (AUS), Kayla McCoy (JAM)
Keys to the Match
- Dominate the midfield: In their home opener, the Reign let Houston dictate play through the midfield — a surprise given how much talent Reign FC have in this position. Without their international players and with Bev Yanez injured, that depth gets smaller for the home side. If they want to contain Houston’s speedy attack, they’ll need to control the middle.
- Protect the flanks: Kealia Ohai is always dangerous on the left flank for the Dash, and Sofia Huerta has been equally as challenging for opponents since sliding out on the right. The Reign could pull both out of position with smart runs in the attack from their outside backs — forcing Ohai and Huerta to drop back. That also leaves the backline exposed, so timing and cover from the midfield are everything.
- Don’t stop pressing: The Reign set the tone last week against North Carolina, pressuring them into giveaways. Houston’s centerback pairing is vulnerable and the Reign will be smart to test their calmness under pressure.
Reign FC’s starting eleven.
Houston Dash’s starting eleven.
30’ - Reign give up a penalty on a hand ball in the box, but Sofia Huerta pushes it juuuuust wide.
32’ - Bethany Balcer gets her third Reign FC goal thanks to a lovely Darian Jenkins through ball (looks like the CB touched it, which is why the center ref waved off the offside call)
39’ - Reign try to go two up before half, but Jane Campbell says, “not on my watch.”
HALFTIME: Reign FC with the far better chances, and they have one goal to show for it. The home team enters half up 1-0, while also losing two players to injury.
67’ - HOW, Jane Campbell? Great free kick from Jess Fishlock. And even better save from Campbell.
90’ - FURT. Christine Nairn equalizes in the 90th minute, and that’s how the match ends
FULL TIME: Reign FC withstand two first-half injuries to keep a 1-0 lead, but they squander three points in the final minutes of the match when they were unable to clear a ball and gave Nairn a shot from distance. The game ends 1-1. Reign FC now get a week off to recover from injury and will host the league-leading Washington Spirit on June 15.
How to Watch
When: Sunday, June 2 at 1 PM PT
Where: Cheney Stadium, Tacoma
Live stream (for users in the U.S.): Watch on Yahoo! Sports
Live stream (for users outside the U.S.): Watch on the NWSL website
More info: How to stream NWSL matches in 2019
Join the Discussion
This is your Reign FC v. Houston Dash gamethread. Head to @rovalks on Twitter for real-time updates, or join the conversation in the comments below.