It’s OL Reign matchday! The Reign will host the Portland Thorns at Lumen Field tonight for the Challenge Cup home opener. The match kicks off at 7 PM PT and will stream on Paramount+ for fans in the U.S. and Twitch for international viewers.
The Reign are in a regional group with Portland and California expansion clubs Angel City FC and San Diego Wave. The top team from each group will advance to the knockout round, along with the second-place team with the best record from among the three regional groups. The two semifinal matches will take place on Wednesday, May 4, with the championship game taking place on Saturday, May 7.
The Portland Thorns are under new head coach Rhian Wilkinson, a one-time Thorns player and Canadian women’s national team player. Like OL Reign, the Thorns have welcomed a number of young players into the squad — with some expected to earn their first NWSL start tonight. When the Reign and Thorns faced off in the opening match of the Portland preseason tournament, the game ended in a 0-0 draw. Even that preseason game had a bit of fight to it. The Challenge Cup opener, even if the teams are still working off a bit of offseason rust, should have even more intensity.
What to Watch
- Use width in the final third to break down Portland’s likely 3-5-2 formation
- Win the duels
- Outwork the Thorns in the midfield
OUT: Alyssa Malonson (knee), Megan Rapinoe (calf)
Portland Thorns FC
OUT: Crystal Dunn (maternity leave), Madison Pogarch (ankle), Rocky Rodríguez (ankle), Becky Sauerbrunn (knee)
After a Reign dominated opening twenty-ish minutes, Sofia Huerta put in a rocket for the Reign’s opening goal of 2022. (1-0)
Sofia “Bangers Only” Huerta. pic.twitter.com/6PcQPfYmuu— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) March 19, 2022
Tzarria King was inches away from putting the Reign up by two goals.
Less than ten minutes later, Thorns striker Sophia Smith broke away from the defenders to put a great shot on goal. Reign keeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce stretched out for a great save, but the rebound went right to the feet of Christine Sinclair who buried the clean-up shot. (1-1)
How to Watch
Date/Time: March 18, 7 PM PT
Location: Lumen Field, Seattle
Streaming (US/Canada): Paramount+
Streaming (International): Twitch (search NWSLOfficial)
Join the Discussion
This is your OL Reign versus Portland Thorns Challenge Cup gamethread. Join the discussion here in the comments, or follow the action on Twitter: @rovalks.