QUICK UPDATE: An injury-depleted Reign side continues to do the impossible. Without 14 of their players, the team headed down I-5 to face the Portland Thorns, who were getting a number of key players back from the World Cup.
Thanks to some incredible play from Casey Murphy and a goal from Celia Jimenez Delgado, the team gritted out a 1-0 win — handing Portland their first home defeat in 8 games. Celia’s goal came in the 55th minute and the team kept the Thorns off the scoresheet for the rest of the match.
Reign FC jump to the top of the table and have one more road game against the North Carolina Courage before they return home.
Reign FC head south for their first I-5 battle of the season against rivals Portland Thorns FC. Their Friday, July 5 match marks the club’s third straight game on the road. And just as they’ve done the last three matches, the Reign will be facing one of the best teams in the league.
Portland currently sits at the top of the league table with 19 points, although Reign FC is closely behind with 17. Friday’s game kicks off at 8 PM PT and will stream on Yahoo! Sports.
Following a home draw with then-league leading Washington Spirit, the Reign have picked up six points on the road, earning wins against Utah and Chicago. Both matches came at a cost, as on her way to getting voted player of the month, Jess Fishlock suffered a torn ACL against Utah. Morgan Andrews pulled her hamstring prior to their game against Chicago.
The injury bug continues to grow. Furt.
Despite the fact that the team now has five players with season-ending injuries, and has been missing eight to the World Cup, they seem to be working together better than ever. The team continues to pick up tough points against quality teams and their high press remains impressive — even with the rotating cast of players in the midfield and attacking bands.
Speaking of the World Cup, the Reign should have some of their international players available for the match — as Celia Jimenez Delgado, Steph Catley, Lydia Williams and Rumi Utsugi are all back with the team. Utsugi unfortunately is out with a calf injury.
The same is true for Portland. Aside from their U.S. players, the Thorns will be able to choose from Haley Raso, Ellie Carpenter, and Caitlin Foord from Australia, Christine Sinclair, and Andressinha — who are all back with the team after playing in the World Cup.
What better way to return to the league than a match against your fiercest rivals?
While both sides will still be without many of their key players, this should be a raucous affair against two teams fighting for points as we head into the second half of the season.
What to Watch
- Direct play: Portland likes to play direct balls into the box from deep. It’s how they finally broke down the Reign in the second half of their 2018 playoff match. It can be tough to defend those balls into the box. The Reign defense will need to stand firm, and the midfield will want to work to prevent long, direct balls ... especially from Meghan Klingenberg.
- World Cup returnees: I have a feeling that Vlatko Andonovski might be a little more cautious with his players returning from the World Cup. Don’t expect all of them to start tonight. But having a few more options is nothing but helpful for the Reign.
- Counter attacks: Portland looked vulnerable last week against Houston on the counter attack. The Reign will want to take full advantage of the wide field and their speedy wing players — and whip in some low crosses on the counter. They might be able to catch the Thorns backline out of position and silence the Thorns crowd.
Injuries, Suspensions, International Duty
OUT: Taylor Smith (SEI Knee), Jasmyne Spencer (SEI Knee), Michelle Betos (SEI Achilles), Jaycie Johnson (SEI Knee), Jessica Fishlock (SEI Knee), Scout Watson (Concussion), Morgan Andrews (Hamstring), Darian Jenkins (Hamstring), Rumi Utsugi (Calf)
QUESTIONABLE: Kristen McNabb (Calf)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Megan Rapinoe (USA), Allie Long (USA), Jodie Taylor (ENG)
OUT: Angela Salem (Left Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Ana Crnogorcevic (Left Thigh)
By the Numbers
5-1-4, 19 points (19 goals for, 12 goals against)
Midge Purce: 5 goals | Meghan Klingenberg: 3 assists
Britt Eckerstrom: 26 saves, 6 goals against, 3 clean sheets
4-1-5, 17 points (11 goals for, 9 goals against)
Bethany Balcer: 3 goals, 1 assist
Casey Murphy: 15 saves, 3 goals against, 2 clean sheets
Portland Thorns FC
How to Watch
More info: How to stream NWSL matches in 2019
Join the Discussion
This is your Reign FC v. Portland Thorns gamethread. Head to @rovalks on Twitter for real-time updates, or join the conversation in the comments below.
Reign FC goalkeeper Casey Murphy, everyone. In the 44th minute.
Reign FC strike first with a goal in the 55th minute by Celia Jiménez Delgado!