The three-game road trip for OL Reign continues on Wednesday, Sept. 21, when the club faces NJ/NY Gotham FC at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The match kicks off at 4 PM PT and will air on FOX 13+ for local viewers. Fans in the U.S. can also stream on Paramount+, while international viewers can watch on Twitch.
OL Reign enters the match in fifth place with an 8-4-7 record (26 goals for, 19 against). Gotham FC sits in 12th and are 4-15-0 (13 GF, 39 against).
Here are 5 things to know about Wednesday’s matchup:
Tough results for Gotham
Gotham hasn’t gotten a result in their last 10 matches, and they lead the league in goals conceded. However, that’s not necessarily an indication of their quality, as some of the club’s recent performances have been strong. The fact that Gotham has nothing to lose is what OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey thinks makes them so dangerous.
“Some of us have had this experience of not getting the results that you want, and people can think that that’s going to be a really easy thing to go in and play against, and I truly believe that it’s possibly the hardest — when you’re coming up against a team who’s in a difficult place. So I think we’re prepared for a really tough game.”
A quick frontline
While Gotham is last in the league in shots on target and goals, they still have a dangerous frontline that OL Reign will need to keep in check. If the Reign play too high of a line without pressuring higher up the field, they could get punished.
U.S. Women’s National Team player Midge Purce leads Gotham with three goals and two assists. Just look at this solo effort she had at the end of their match against Houston.
Winger Paige Monaghan has three goals, and Ifeoma Onumonu has one goal and two assists.
The players put everything on the line to get the 2-1 win in North Carolina on Saturday. With another match just three days later, and against a different opponent, fans should expect some rotation.
While Lauren Barnes and Jess Fishlock were rested in North Carolina, Harvey — who is in New Jersey and has been cleared to join the squad after a bout with Covid — confirmed that they are “both doing a lot better.” The Reign head coach may still choose to rest them to ensure they are ready for Houston, but at least they are trending in the right direction.
It’s time for a clean sheet
While OL Reign remains one of the top defenses in the league — giving up just 19 goals in 19 matches — the team hasn’t earned a clean sheet since July 1. Getting one on Wednesday would be a big boost for the team as they close out the regular season.
“Saturday’s goal was another unfortunate goal for us to give up, and I said this before the North Carolina game — it’s an area that we know we can control,” Harvey said ahead of the match. “We can have impact over that probably more than we can on sort of the finishing end of it. I think the backline, and I will always include the goalkeeper in the backline of that, they deserve [a clean sheet], they deserve it.”
Chasing the NWSL Shield
While OL Reign sits in fifth place heading into the match, the team still has a legitimate shot at the NWSL Shield. The Reign are just three points out of first with a game in hand on the top three teams in the league. A win on Wednesday could see them end the night as high as first and as low as third. There are just two matches remaining after this mid-week match, so every point matters.
Injury / Availability Report
OUT: Angelina (SEI- right knee), Tobin Heath (SEI- left knee), Sinclaire Miramontez (SEI- right foot), Jodi Ulkekul (SEI- right knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Lauren Barnes (right leg)
OUT: Ashlyn Harris (right knee), Allie Long (maternity leave), Domi Richardson (SEI - right knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Taylor Smith (left thigh)
How to Watch
OL Reign kicks off against Gotham FC at 4 PM PT. The road match will air on FOX 13+ locally and will stream on Paramount+ for fans in the U.S. and Twitch for international viewers.