It’s NWSL playoff season and OL Reign is hosting their first-ever playoff match at Lumen Field on Sunday, October 23. The NWSL semifinal against the Kansas City Current will kick off at 4:30 PM PT and will air on CBS Sports Network for fans in the U.S., along with streaming on Twitch for international fans.
OL Reign finished the season with an 11-4-7 record, which put them at the top of the league with 40 points — giving the club their third NWSL Shield in 10 seasons. The NWSL Shield will be presented to the team before kickoff. The KC Current finished with 36 points. With how tight the league was at the end of the season, the Current fell from a possible 3rd-place finish to 5th with a loss in their final match.
The winning team on Sunday will book a ticket to the NWSL Championship, which will be held on October 29 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. They’ll face the winner of the Portland Thorns vs. San Diego Wave match, which kicks off Sunday at 2 PM PT.
We’ve already given you an in-depth look at what makes the KC Current so dangerous, so start there if you haven’t already. After scouting OL Reign’s opponent, here are five things you need to know about Sunday’s NWSL playoff match.
Another attendance record
As of Friday morning, OL Reign has sold more than 18,000 tickets for Sunday’s match at Lumen Field. The club already had to open up additional seats on the west side of the stadium earlier this week to accommodate demand, and the blue dots on the Ticketmaster website are continuing to disappear quickly.
Assuming the club continues to sell at a similar rate through Sunday, OL Reign could essentially double its standalone attendance record — which currently sits at 10,746. Regardless of the final attendance number, Lumen Field is going to be rocking on Sunday.
Gates will open 90 minutes before kickoff. There should be plenty of pre-match festivities to enjoy if you arrive early — including the food trucks in the North Plaza, giveaways at all entrances, and live music. And of course, you’ll want to be in your seat in time for the Shield presentation.
We’re only happy when it Reigns
This week has been miserable for Washington state residents, as wildfires have caused many people to stress about losing their homes, while millions more have had to worry about their health with dangerous air quality levels. The good news? It’s supposed to rain on Friday and Saturday, dramatically improving the air quality for players and fans. Weather forecasts have the rain subsiding on Sunday, which should make the match an enjoyable one for those able to attend in person. It’s expected to be around 55 degrees F and dry at kickoff.
Plan your commute
OL Reign doesn’t have to compete with any other Seattle pro sports teams for traffic on Sunday, which should lessen your commuting burdens. However, fans should know that the 520 bridge is closed all weekend, and Link light rail service will be suspended in both directions between the Rainier Beach and Tukwila International Boulevard stations. Free shuttle buses are available, but you’ll want to add extra time if you’re planning to take that route.
Inspired by @Danielhep, here's a map to help navigate the Link service disruption on Oct. 22-26. The 1 Line will be shut down between Rainier Beach and Tukwila International Boulevard stations but a free shuttle will be available. Please plan ahead: https://t.co/ahjxgMNZrT pic.twitter.com/eHR6YbSHqi— Sound Transit - (@SoundTransit) October 19, 2022
Different playing styles
What can fans expect from this match? Hopefully, a really great game! Kansas City is a team that likes to cede possession to their opponent and score fast in transition. Don’t expect a lot of slow build-ups from them — instead, look for the Current to try to disrupt the Reign when they lose the ball and get it forward as quickly as possible when they win it back. They’re always moving.
OL Reign, on the other hand, is a team that likes to build through possession, while also deploying a lethal press that is hard for any team to break down. The Reign lead the league in possession won in the final third and possession won in the midfield. Often triggered by Rose Lavelle as the attacking midfielder, OL Reign pushes teams into traps. Can they do that again when they take on Kansas City?
Where the Reign like to cross — they have the best cross success rate in the league — Kansas City prefers to play over the top to their forwards, rather than serve in balls from wide. It will be an interesting tactical matchup for both sides.
The match is on CBS Sports Network
The game will air exclusively on CBS Sports Network for fans in the U.S. So if you don’t have that channel via your streaming, cable, or satellite package, you won’t be able to go to Paramount+ to stream the match like you’ve done all season. It’s ridiculous. We agree.
Can’t get to Lumen Field, but want to watch the game? Plenty of soccer and sports bars in the area should be playing the match. The Royal Guard Supporters Group has partnered with a few, in particular, to host viewing parties for away matches, if you want to try those: The Atlantic Crossing, Rookie’s and Flatstick Pub in Seattle, and Doyle’s Pub in Tacoma.
If you live outside the U.S., the game will be available on the streaming platform Twitch (search NWSLOfficial).
Looking for more of a primer on OL Reign and their playoff run? Ride of the Valkyries writer Jacob Cristobal has you covered in this piece for Crosscut! And if you haven’t been to a Reign game at Lumen Field, check out their matchday guide for stadium rules.