It’s the final game of the 2020 “season” for OL Reign. The team concludes its Fall Series with a home match at Cheney Stadium against the Utah Royals. The game kicks off at 5 PM PT and will stream on CBS All Access for viewers in the U.S. and Canada, and Twitch for international fans.
OL Reign have yet to win a Fall Series game, going 0-2-1 in their first three matches. But despite a -4 goal differential, there have been some positive signs. In their last match against Portland — a 2-1 loss due to two controversial penalty calls — the Reign opened the game with great pressure. They were able to create strong attacking opportunities through quick restarts when they recovered the ball. In the first few minutes alone, the Reign won around 5 balls from interceptions or pressure and their first pass was forward.
While the final ball ultimately went out of bounds, here’s just one example of the way OL Reign pressured to start the game (bad camera angle/lighting aside). The Reign forced a risky ball into the middle, which they intercepted, and the ball fell to Sofia Huerta. While she looks forward, nothing was on. So Huerta calmly kept the ball, found Dani Weatherholt behind her, and with one touch the midfielder played it up to Shirley Cruz.
Unfortunately, the Reign weren’t able to keep that pressure up all game. But that’s the kind of urgency in the attack that was missing this summer.
Let’s be real; this year is just plain weird, and the Reign were up against a lot of hurdles. They were welcoming a new coach, integrating plenty of new players, and added a pandemic, injuries and a host of loans on top of that this fall. Still, there has been some progress, and with this being their final game of the year, OL Reign have a chance to show their development and put all the pieces together. Bethany Balcer sure is ready.
FINAL GAME DAY OF 2020— Bethany Balcer (@bethanybalcer) October 17, 2020
YOU BETTER BE WATCHING
I HEARD OL REIGN IS FIRED UP
MIGHT RESULT IN MANY GOLAZOOOOS
While one game should never dictate how the club evaluates any specific player, the upcoming expansion draft must be on some players’ minds. The league announced this week that the expansion draft for Louisville will take place Nov. 12, with protected lists due from clubs on Nov. 4. Reign players have one final opportunity to make the case to be on that protected list.
What to Watch
- Finish those early chances: In both matches against Portland, OL Reign created opportunities early. They had the better chances in the first 30 minutes, but were unable to finish. Goals change games, so the big question remains: can the Reign actually finish one of these this time around?
- Let’s see the flair: Look, it’s the last game of the season. While I want to see this team progress on the fundamentals, I also just want to have some fun tonight. Let’s see some creativity. Let’s see a few cheeky plays.
- Protect the box: Remember last game against Utah? The Reign were unable to defend two crosses into the box, resulting in early goals for Utah. While the team crawled back to earn a draw, they didn’t need to be in that position. Let’s see the Tacoma side stand tall in the box and give Casey Murphy a clean sheet.
Injury Report, Absences
OUT: Kelcie Hedge (SEI – right knee), Julia Ashley (back), Lauren Barnes (loan), Michelle Betos (knee), Celia Jiménez Delgado (loan), Jess Fishlock (loan), Machaela George (loan), Darian Jenkins (loan), Yuka Momiki (loan), Quinn (loan), Megan Rapinoe (voluntary opt-out), Allie Long (R lower leg)
QUESTIONABLE: Madison Hammond (right hip), Taylor Smith (left ankle)
OUT: Nicole Barnhart (left Achilles), Vero Boquete (left hip), Kate Del Fava (left hip), Desiree Scott (opt-out), Diana Matheson (opt-out), Kelley O’Hara (opt-out), Gunny Jonsdottir (loan), Rachel Corsie (loan)
Our last Starting XI of 2020. Let’s go! pic.twitter.com/1LGSy5ivdp— OL Reign (@OLReign) October 17, 2020
One more time for 2020 #URFC | #NWSLFallSeries pic.twitter.com/G4oNhyxVne— Utah Royals FC (@UtahRoyalsFC) October 17, 2020
2’ - Leah Pruitt with an early chance!
Goalkeeper's best friend @abbyys44 tips this early effort off the crossbar.— NWSL (@NWSL) October 18, 2020
0-0 | #RGNvUTA
Tune in now on @CBSAllAcess and @Twitch. #NWSLFallSeries | #VerizonCommunityShield pic.twitter.com/684LhVyoWo
24’ - After lots of pressure, OL Reign get their first goal. It’s Sofia Huerta’s first for the Reign.
Sprinkling some nutmeg in this one @schuerta's shot finds its way through the legs of Abby Smith to open the scoring.— NWSL (@NWSL) October 18, 2020
1-0 | #RGNvUTA
Tune in now on @CBSAllAccess and @Twitch. #NWSLFallSeries | #VerizonCommunityShield pic.twitter.com/nDWxCufwvR
51’ - LEAH PRUITT GOAL!!
Simply class from @leahpruitt44 ✨— NWSL (@NWSL) October 18, 2020
2-0 | #RGNvUTA
Tune in now on @CBSAllAccess and @Twitch. #NWSLFallSeries | #VerizonCommunityShield pic.twitter.com/Yl5tCmU0FZ
83’ - Morgan Andrews with a strong, hard shot from the 18-yard box. But Abby Smith pushes it out for a corner. Great save.
83' Folks, the noises OL Reign fans around the world would have made if this @MorganEAndrews found the back of the net. #RGNvUTA pic.twitter.com/q7kJsopwSG— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) October 18, 2020
How to Watch
Time/Date: Saturday, October 17 | 5 PM PT
Where: Cheney Stadium | Tacoma, WA
Livestream (US/Canada): CBS All Access
Livestream (International): Twitch
Join the Discussion
This is your OL Reign v. Utah Royals gamethread. Watch with us, and follow @rovalks on Twitter for real-time updates and highlights.