Saturday marks OL Reign’s final match of the regular season. The club will host the Orlando Pride at Lumen Field in a game that kicks off at 7 PM PT. The match will stream exclusively on Twitch (search NWSLOfficial).
OL Reign enters the match in second place with a 10-4-7 record (29 goals for, 19 against). Despite pushing for the playoffs, the Orlando Pride were eliminated last week. The Pride are ninth on the NWSL table and have a 5-9-7 record (22 goals for, 42 goals against).
In their last match, the Reign earned a 2-0 road win in Houston. The Pride, meanwhile, helped OL Reign out a little and drew 2-2 with San Diego at home.
Here are 5 things to know about OL Reign’s final regular-season match:
A potential record crowd
Attendance has been building at Lumen Field this year for OL Reign, and the club appears to be close to breaking their standalone attendance record on Saturday. The current record of 9,032 was set against the Portland Thorns in July. There’s a good chance they’ll surpass that total this weekend (get your tickets now if you haven’t).
“We’ve always felt the love in Tacoma and Seattle, and I think, you know, this week hopefully sets a standard for the city to continue to come to the games. You know, we always put on a good performance, and I think it’s really important for us to share that with the community,” defender Lauren Barnes said about the Reign’s potential record crowd.
Playoff seeding on the line
While OL Reign have already secured their spot in the playoffs — and are guaranteed a home match — Saturday’s result will determine OL Reign’s playoff seeding. A win would guarantee a top-two finish, which would automatically put OL Reign into the semifinals and give the squad a first-round bye. This would allow OL Reign’s eight international players to have extra time to recover after they play for their national teams over the next week.
“Pretty much our mentality this whole year is to be ruthless, and I think the road trip gives us confidence and momentum going into this game. We want that second seed, for sure, so we’re going to go in guns blazing,” Barnes added.
If Gotham beats or draws with Portland earlier in the day, a win would also give the Reign the NWSL Shield for the third time in their 10-season history.
Orlando is pretty good on the road
While the Pride have won just a single match at home, they have one of the better road records in the league. Orlando is 4-4-2 away from home. They’ve scored eight goals on the road and conceded 18 — so while their record is strong, they’ve had some rough road matches, including a 6-0 loss in Portland and a 5-0 loss in Houston earlier this year.
Orlando isn’t playing for any playoff spots, but they are playing for, well, pride. Head coach Laura Harvey knows this emotion can make teams extremely hard to beat.
“They’ve changed their team a little bit recently. So, you know, the exact XI — we’re not quite sure what it will look like. But I think, pride to me, personal pride, is the thing that’s the hardest to play against. I think Gotham showed that when we played them last week, and I think we’ll see the same off Orlando tomorrow.”
Orlando doesn’t shoot a lot
While OL Reign are second in the league in shots and shots on target, behind Portland, the Pride are closer to the bottom. In fact, Orlando is last in the league in shots and second to last in shots on target. OL Reign average 6 shots on target per match, while the Pride averages 3.7. At the same time, Orlando took advantage of their few chances against the Reign at home and scored a goal — so the Reign defense will have to be alert all match.
While the Pride don’t shoot a lot, they have spread the goals across the team. Twelve different players have scored for the Pride. However, their leading goal-scorer — Meggie Dougherty-Howard — has just three goals.
A team that builds from the back
Orlando builds from the back, with their centerbacks and holding midfielders leading the team in passes. A lot of their possession is in their defensive half. Put another way, the Pride most frequently have fewer passes in their attacking half than their opponent. When the Reign and Pride faced each other in August, Orlando had 52% of possession but managed just 92 passes in their attacking half, compared to OL Reign’s 192. Look for the Reign to press Orlando high and try to disrupt the Pride’s build-up.
Bonus: Support Hurricane Ian victims
OL Reign’s opponent, the Orlando Pride, had to take an early flight out of Orlando on Wednesday morning due to the arrival of Hurricane Ian. So many Florida residents have been impacted by the hurricane. Here are a few ways you can support recovery efforts.
Injury / Availability Report
OUT: Angelina (SEI- right knee), Tobin Heath (SEI- left knee), Sinclaire Miramontez (SEI- right foot), Jodi Ulkekul (SEI- right knee)
OUT: Kaylie Collins (wrist), Caitlin Cosme (knee), Parker Roberts (Covid protocol), Marta (SEI-knee), Viviana Villacorta (SEI- ankle), Chelsee Washington (ankle), Ally Watt (wrist)
QUESTIONABLE: Mikayla Cluff (ankle)
How to Watch
OL Reign kicks off against the Orlando Pride on Saturday, October 1, at 7 PM PT. The home match will air exclusively on Twitch (Search NWSLOfficial).