After a FIFA international break, OL Reign resumed their regular season and their campaign to qualify for the NWSL playoffs by hosting the Chicago Red Stars on Friday night. The result was a 2-2 draw, but how they got there was very much a tale of two halves. OL Reign dominated the first half and could have put the game comfortably to rest. However, a stoppage-time goal to equalize boosted Chicago to be the better side in the second half, where they eventually claimed the lead. Then a moment of individual magic from Rose Lavelle saw OL Reign salvage a point at Lumen Field on Friday night.
OL Reign’s goals were scored by Jordyn Huitema in the 18th minute and Rose Lavelle in the 80th. For Chicago, Ella Stevens equalized in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, and Danielle Colaprico converted a penalty in the 68th minute.
WHAT WORKED: JORDYN HUITEMA’S GOAL
Having scored the decisive goal to secure The Women’s Cup in Louisville, Jordyn Huitema kept it going and opened her NWSL goal account in the 18th minute by putting away her own rebound.
WHAT WORKED: ROSE LAVELLE MAGIC
When your team has magicians like Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle, you can never count them out. Lavelle would be the spell caster here with this strike from the top of the 18-yard box.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: THIS EMBARRASSING CONCESSION IN STOPPAGE TIME
This is not going to be on the club’s end-of-season highlight reel. It was a collective shutdown after the initial ball went off the post, and yeah...
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: AN UGLY SECOND HALF
When you concede a goal like the Reign did just before halftime, you wonder if it might carry over into the second half. And yep, it did — for most of the second half, OL Reign were just not the better team. In all the ways it gave Chicago a spark, OL Reign lost their defensive organization and it felt the complete opposite of how they were the better team in the first half.
Question the validity of the handball call that resulted in Chicago getting the penalty (again, VAR is set to come to the NWSL next season), but OL Reign’s ugly second half until Lavelle’s equalizer was very much self-inflicted.
If OL Reign want to make the run into the playoffs that their talent on paper suggests they can, and ultimately lift the NWSL Championship, they have to always be on. No lapses in the second half, and they know this.
“We should have won the game in the first half.”
“We had too many chances that we didn’t convert. I thought it was some of our best creation of chances and some good football to get in there,” said OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey in her postgame remarks. “We had a very specific game plan for this game offensively, and it worked. It wasn’t necessarily pretty all the time, but I think we’ll look back on the first half and be really disappointed that we didn’t win the game in the first half. Then in the second half I thought we came out, obviously sluggish, and let them have momentum. But I’m really proud of the fact that they never gave up and gritted their way back into the game and probably deserved a little bit more.”
At the moment, the draw keeps OL Reign fifth in the standings, pending other results around the league this weekend.
Up next for OL Reign is their final road trip on the regular season, racking up some serious travel miles as they will play three away matches in a week. First, they travel to Cary, North Carolina to face North Carolina Courage. OL Reign won their first meeting with NC back on July 1st, notching a 2-0 victory. OL Reign at North Carolina Courage is scheduled for Saturday, September 17 with a 4:30 PM PT kickoff. The match will be broadcast on Paramount+ for US viewers, while international viewers can watch on Twitch.