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OL Reign enter international break with a 1-0 victory over Angel City FC

Bethany Balcer’s first-half goal was the difference.

Nikita Taparia

A busy week in which OL Reign announced two major player acquisitions, was then capped off with a Saturday night match against Angel City FC. On a day dubbed #SODOvsSOCAL, OL Reign did their part with a 1-0 victory over Angel City FC, courtesy of Bethany Balcer’s goal in the 31st minute.

Thanks to Balcer’s second goal of the NWSL regular season, OL Reign climbs to 13 points heading into the June international break.

While OL Reign started the match on the front foot and in control, it deteriorated into NWSL After Dark as multiple cards were issued, including Megan Rapinoe’s first sending off in her NWSL career.


WHAT WORKED: STARTING THE MATCH WITH AGGRESSION

Last week at San Diego, OL Reign had a forgetful first 20 minutes, conceding a goal and facing relentless pressure. They were eventually able to settle into the match and respond, so starting right from kickoff tonight in being aggressive and setting the tempo was huge for the club. Balcer’s goal was the cap of the first half, but they could have easily had a second goal if the woodwork did not deny forward Veronica Latsko. Making the most of chances and finishing is likely to be a point of emphasis for the squad, particularly with the departure of several players on national team duty and the impending arrival of Kim Little and Tobin Heath. Continuing to start games off with aggression and taking charge is something to look forward to.

WHAT WORKED: TOUGHING IT OUT

We’ll get to the NWSL After Dark aspect of everyone getting a card for one reason or another, but within the chaotic second half, wherein OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey admitted to the team letting up a bit on their grasp of the game, Angel City FC could have easily snuck in an equalizer. With Christen Press lost for the season to an ACL tear, Angel City’s attack was somewhat unpredictable, but OL Reign’s defense was able to settle in and maintain their composure in the later stages of the game.


WHAT DIDN’T WORK: YOU GET A CARD, EVERYONE GETS A CARD

It was going well for OL Reign in terms of controlling possession, and they probably should have scored a second goal, but then NWSL After Dark happened and you and everyone you know got a yellow card. We’re not sure what happened either.


“I’m so excited. I’ve never had another Canadian on my team, so I’m pretty pumped about that.”

Before the match, there was excitement as OL Reign announced the signing of Canada forward Jordyn Huitema. Huitema made an appearance at halftime, saying hello to the 6,367 in attendance. After the match, fellow Canadian Quinn added their hype speech for what Huitema joining OL Reign means:

“Jordy is such a talented young player. She’s such a physical presence and I think, clinical finishing, she’s going to provide us with opportunities in front of the net and I’m excited to see that happen. She’s got a great growth and work mindset, so I’m pumped to see her grow in this league and what she has to offer in a new league.”

Defender Alana Cook played with Huitema at Paris Saint-Germain Féminine from 2019 to 2021, adding, “I think, probably, the most exciting thing is how young she is and how much experience she’s already had. Her ceiling is still so much higher than where she’s at. So, I think we’re really excited we’re bringing in a lot of really talented, really exciting players and I think we only stand to get better from it.”

In talking about the Angel City FC’s unpredictability in their attack, Cook said, “We knew going into it, we were going to have to kind of figure out in the early minutes what their strategy was, what their fix was for not having Press. With that said, I think they’re a team of really talented players, so they found a way to kind of restructure and still be dangerous, still be a threat. So, I think it was just taking those early minutes to adjust and figure out what their tactics were going to be and I think you saw we grew into the game the more we figured out the midfield rotation, whether they were going long, whether they were trying to find someone in the pocket in front of us. They have great players and it was just kind of an adjustment figuring out what they wanted to do.”


With that, OL Reign and the rest of the league have approached the ultimate luxury: a break. The league enters an international break, with players from each team joining national teams, most notably for the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship tournament in Mexico in the first half of July. While results around the league could alter OL Reign’s current position, they are assured of going into the break in a top-six position.

OL Reign’s next NWSL match will be on Friday, July 1 as they host North Carolina Courage. The match will be OL Reign’s annual Pride Match, with a scheduled kickoff of 7 PM PT. US fans can watch the match on Paramount+ while international viewers can watch on Twitch.

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