Reign FC begin their four-game road trip on Sunday with a match against the Chicago Red Stars. The June 23 game kicks off at 3 PM PT and will stream on Yahoo! Sports.
This is the second time the two sides are meeting this season and the second match at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. The last encounter was April 28, and it was a game to forget for Reign FC. After postponing the game for a day due to snow showers, Reign FC looked out of sorts for the majority of the match — falling 3-0 to the Red Stars and never looking particularly dangerous.
Fans shouldn’t take too much from that early encounter, however (aside from the fact that weather could again be a factor, with thunderstorms in the forecast). The team has grown defensively and looked much more organized across the board.
“I think we’ve come a long way as a club from that first loss,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “I think we’ve tightened up a lot of the areas that we struggled in during that match and our recent form has been strong. Chicago is a tough team, but I’m confident in our ability to get a result.”
Believe it or not, that loss to Chicago is Reign FC’s only defeat this season. This might be a surprise to some looking at the league standings, where the Reign still sit in 7th. It’s the five draws that have hurt the team. The mounting injuries have also, quite literally, hurt the squad. The club will be without a league-high 16 players for the match — with eight representing their countries in the World Cup and another eight on the injury report.
If last week’s performance is any indication, however, Reign FC have the ability to steal points — regardless of who steps onto the field. Against the league-leading Washington Spirit, the Reign played a fantastic high press that had the NWSL’s best-passing team on its heels. The Spirit should feel a little lucky walking away from Cheney Stadium with a draw, as the Reign were the better team for much of the match.
Chicago doesn’t have the same level of injury struggles, but they have had a difficult time scoring since losing Sam Kerr to the World Cup. As a result, they are tied with the Reign on points. The squad should be well rested — possibly too well rested? — as they enter the match on a 21-day rest. Their last game was a 3-0 loss to the Portland Thorns on June 2. It was the quick transitions off balls won near half and taking the ball to the endline for cutbacks that did Chicago in that evening.
Reign FC likes to start matches playing more direct and with high pressure, looking for an early goal. The strategy has resulted in plenty of chances in recent matches for the Reign. Chicago’s defense showed that they’re vulnerable against teams that pull this off. Can the Reign sneak in a goal early?
While the Reign have signed players out of injury necessity, the Red Stars this week acquired forward Savannah McCaskill in a trade with Sky Blue FC. A fringe USWNT player, McCaskill had a breakout season in Australia’s W-League this winter, but hasn’t been able to find that same form at Sky Blue as she worked her way back from an injury at the start of the NWSL season. She brings great vision and creativity to Chicago’s attack and has the ability to play on the wing or as an attacking midfielder.
Injuries, Suspensions, International Duty
OUT: Jasmyne Spencer (SEI - Knee), Taylor Smith (SEI - Knee), Michelle Betos (SEI Achilles), Scout Watson (Concussion), Kristen McNabb (Calf), Darian Jenkins (Hamstring), Jaycie Johnson (Knee), Shea Groom (Calf)
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: Alyssa Mautz (Right Knee), AJ Jahansouz (Right Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Arin Wright (Right Ankle), Brooke Elby (Right Knee)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Morgan Brian (USA), Tierna Davidson (USA), Julie Ertz (USA), Sam Kerr (AUS), Alyssa Naeher (USA)
Here’s how Reign FC are lining up tonight.
Here is your Reign FC Starting XI for today's match against @chiredstarsPR:#BeBold #RFC253 #CHIvRFC pic.twitter.com/i7zvie34ie— Reign FC (@ReignFC) June 23, 2019
Chicago Red Stars
Here’s how the hosting Red Stars lineup tonight.
We are going mutts for this starting XI, presented by @MagellanCorp— Chicago Red Stars (@chiredstarsPR) June 23, 2019
: https://t.co/qGTXU8POVr#MKOT pic.twitter.com/dlfTAQMOHl
By the Numbers
Chicago Red Stars
3-3-2, 11 points (13 goals for, 13 goals against)
Yuki Nagasato: 3 goals, 3 assists | Michele Vasconcelos: 2 goals, 2 assists
Emily Boyd: 12 saves, 8 goals against
2-1-5, 11 points (8 goals for, 9 goals against)
Bethany Balcer: 3 goals
Casey Murphy: 10 saves, 3 goals against
How to Watch
When: Sunday, June 23 at 3 PM PT
Where: SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview, Illinois
Live stream (for users in the U.S.): Watch on Yahoo! Sports
Live stream (for users outside the U.S.): Watch on NWSL
More info: How to stream NWSL matches in 2019
Join the Discussion
This is your Reign FC v. Chicago Red Stars gamethread. Head to @rovalks on Twitter for real-time updates, or join the conversation in the comments below.