OL Reign faced Club América Femenil in the first semifinal of the competition, which itself marked the first time in club history that the Reign competed against a Mexican club in an official competition. Club América won their quarterfinal match this past Sunday over Tottenham Hotspur Women, 2-1, to meet OL Reign today.
A rotated squad did a lot of defending in the first half, conceded first in the second half, but in a fortunate turn of events this time, scored two goals in a three minute span to come out on top over Club América.
Kiana Palacios scored for Club América in the 61st minute. OL Reign’s goals came from Tziarra King in the 79th minute and Olivia Van der Jagt in the 82nd.
WHAT WORKED: LAUREL IVORY MAKES HER OL REIGN DEBUT
As expected with the team having just played on Sunday, a rotated squad started for the Reign in their first match in The Women’s Cup. Goalkeeper Laurel Ivory was the beneficiary of Phallon Tullis-Joyce getting the night off, making her first start for OL Reign. Goal concession aside, Ivory looked decent relative to the overall rotation of the field players.
With the competition being an exhibition, OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey stressed that the team would be looking to give minutes and experience to everyone that isn’t a regular starter. Harvey has said it throughout this season that this Reign squad is the deepest she’s ever coached and it’s encouraging to see players step up to the challenge when the opportunity arises.
WHAT WORKED: TZIARRA KING!
Upper corner, all sauce.
WHAT WORKED: OLIVIA VAN DER JAGT + CLUTCH GOALS
Already having an NWSL Challenge Cup match-winning goal in her account, Olivia Van der Jagt scored the match-winner in the 81st minute.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: THE GOAL CONCESSION
The force field was broken in the 60th minute as Club America’s Kiana Palacios made the most of a second chance opportunity. Unfortunate that Sam Hiatt’s first touch went that way for Palacios to pounce on, but sometimes that just happens.
“We don’t come anywhere if we’re not gonna win. We want to win it all.”
King was awarded with Most Valuable Player of the Game honors for her upper corner golazo, officially logged in the 78th minute. Don’t worry, Van der Jagt’s was still within the three-minute span as it was officially logged in the 81st. King said of the goal, “It was right place, right time. It fell perfectly to me and I was ready to hit it top bins.”
King was also asked about the timing of playing in these friendlies during the crunch time of the NWSL regular season.
“This is an interesting road trip for us. We have a week here and then we go straight to Orlando from here. So what this really is for us is a grind. We’re finding ways to stay locked in, stay ready, and stay prepared. We have, points to get, places to climb on the table, so I think this is a good opportunity for us to get minutes for the people that need minutes and hopefully get a dub at the end of this tournament.”
And the Women’s Cup gives OL Reign the chance to see and play against teams from other parts of the world. While they could meet Racing Louisville for the third time this year, they could also play against an Italian side for the first time in club history, just like they made history facing a Mexican side today.
“It’s really exciting. We watch other leagues and we love to see and we love to compare and think about what if we played [them]. Having the opportunity to play against these teams is really cool. Club America was great tonight. I was really impressed by the way they were keeping the ball, keeping possession. Yeah, it’s really exciting to be able to play.”
With the win, OL Reign will now face Racing Louisville in the final. Racing defeated AC Milan, 2-0, in Wednesday’s other semifinal. The Women’s Cup final match will be played on Saturday, August 20 at 4 PM PT and can be watched on Paramount+.