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Match Preview: OL Reign vs. North Courage

The match kicks off Sunday at 12 PM PT.

NWSL: OL Reign at North Carolina Courage Jared Bundick-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, May 14, OL Reign face the North Carolina Courage. The match in Cary, North Carolina, kicks off at 12 PM PT at will air on FOX 13+ locally. The game will also stream on Paramount+ in the U.S., TSN+ in Canada, and the NWSL website for other international viewers.

The Reign head into the match with a 4-1-1 record, while the Courage are 2-3-1. OL Reign has scored 12 goals and allowed 5, while North Carolina has scored 7 and allowed 9.

Both teams are coming off strong performances last weekend. OL Reign won 2-0 against Houston last weekend and the Courage drew 3-3 with Portland.

The Reign have had a difficult time on the road against North Carolina but won their first match last year in Cary. Can they make it two?

Here are three things to know about OL Reign’s road matchup.

Two possession-heavy teams

Heading into this weekend of play, the Reign and Courage led the league in completed passes per match. According to FBref, the Courage average 382 completed passes per match and the Reign complete 373 passes a game. Both teams build from the back, with Alana Cook, Sam Hiatt, and North Carolina’s Ryan Williams and Kaleigh Kurtz in the top five for successful passes so far this season.

The Courage average 58% possession each match, compared to 52% for the Reign. They use their possession to widen the field and create space. With that possession, North Carolina often does damage to teams in the first half.

“Their identity is that they like to move the ball around. They’re quite expansive in how they possess, and I think as games go on, that’s really hard work, and I think that’s where teams start to get back into games against them,” head coach Laura Harvey said ahead of the match. “But I think, honestly, it’s as hard to play against them in the first half — so how you deal with them in the first half and then still have enough in the tank to go after them in the second half is difficult.”

North Carolina is also difficult to score against because of their possession. The other team can’t create chances if they don’t have the ball. In fact, the Courage has given up the second-lowest expected goals against (4.33 xG against) in open play — just behind the Reign (4.19). The Reign may not get too many chances on Sunday.

Watch out for Kerolin

Brazilian wing player Kerolin already has three goals this season. She’s extremely dangerous on the dribble, can create a shot out of nothing, and is a quick player as well.

She can also unleash a shot from distance.

One way to slow Kerolin down is to limit service to her. The Reign will also need to make sure they have numbers behind the ball when she dribbles into the attack.

Not a lot of crosses or shots

The Reign average 3.33 completed crosses into the penalty area per match, according to FBref, but the Courage complete just 1.17. According to FotMob, they have the lowest cross success rate, at 16.2% — compared to 28.1% for the Reign. Midfielder Narumi Miura and right back Ryan Williams are the primary crossers, while left back Emily Fox meanders into space more often — looking to combine or shoot, rather than cross.

North Carolina, while dangerous in the attack, don’t shoot a ton. In fact, the Courage have shot the fewest times this season, 39. The Reign have 54 shots so far. North Carolina is still dangerous in front of goal, however, with players like Tyler Lussi, Danish forwards Rikke Madsen and Mille Gejl, and rookie Olivia Wingate, who is speedy, providing additional threats. The Reign will need to keep them away from the 18-yard box as much as possible.

Injury / Availability Report


OUT: Angelina (SEI - knee), Rose Lavelle (leg), Phoebe McClernon (back), Olivia Van der Jagt (excused absence)


OUT: Emily Gray (SEI – knee) Estelle Johnson (lower leg)

How to Watch

OL Reign kicks off against the North Carolina Courage on Sunday at 12 PM PT. The match will air on FOX 13+ locally and will stream on Paramount+ in the U.S., TSN+ in Canada, and the NWSL website for other international viewers.

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