SEATTLE,WA –– (club release) Seattle Reign FC (2-2-0, 6 pts) return to the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium as they take on the unbeaten Portland Thorns FC (2-0-2, 8 pts) in the first of four regular season match-ups. The match kicks off at 7:00 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 14.
Last weekend, Seattle fell 0-2 to the Orlando Pride at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., in the team’s second loss this season. Orlando jumped on Seattle in the 11th minute with a goal from forward Sarah Hagen, assisted by forward Alex Morgan, giving the home side the upper-hand for the majority of the match. Seattle’s best opportunity to equalize came in the 82nd minute when midfielder Beverly Yanez fired a dangerous shot from the top of the 18. As the ball soared towards the top left corner of the frame, Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris pushed the ball into the crossbar. The ball fell in front of an onrushing Michelle Cruz, who chipped it over the goal before colliding with Harris.
Four minutes later, defender Lauren Barnes lost her footing against Morgan in Seattle territory, freeing Morgan to drive into the box to and fire a shot. Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo came off her line to block the shot, but the rebound fell to Pride forward Lianne Sanderson who placed a shot past Solo and defender Rachel Corsie for Orlando’s second goal of the match. The result dropped Reign FC two places in the NWSL standings, leaving the club tied in fifth place with Orlando and the Western New York Flash on six points.
The loss was a difficult blow for Reign FC, though Barnes says she and her teammates are using the defeat as motivation for the upcoming match against Portland.
“It’s always tough coming off a loss, but having to play Portland next is the best game we could’ve asked for,” said Barnes. “Naturally, we’re more pumped now, want to get out there, prove something, and smash them if we can. The mentality is that we have to win.”
Portland currently sits in third place behind the Chicago Red Stars, who have nine points, and the league-leading Washington Spirit who remain undefeated on ten points. So far this season, Portland saw a home-opening 2-1 win over Orlando on April 17, a 1-1 draw at FC Kansas City on April 23, a 1-0 defeat of the Boston Breakers on May 1, and a scoreless draw against Washington in a turbulent match at the Maryland SoccerPlex last Saturday, May 7.
Possession swayed from side-to-side throughout the majority of last Saturday’s match between the Thorns and Spirit, with both teams hammering the other’s defense to open up shooting opportunities, though none found the back of the net. Portland took seven shots while the Spirit peppered the Thorns’ backline with 16 shots, six of which were on frame. With neither team wanting to finish the match with its first loss of the season, aggressive play earned the Spirit 10 fouls, while Portland racked up 15 and a red card for midfielder Tobin Heath.
Heath’s first caution was issued in the 59th minute when Heath encroached on Spirit defender Ali Krieger while she prepared to take a free kick. In the 88th minute, at the sound of the referee Chris Spivey’s whistle for a foul by Heath, Heath spiked the ball, prompting Spivey to issue her second yellow and subsequent red card and ejection.
As per NWSL misconduct rules, Heath’s one-game suspension for the ejection will keep her out of the lineup against Seattle on Saturday.
The intense rivalry between Reign FC and Thorns FC currently has the two teams almost even, with Seattle holding a 4-5-0 all-time regular season record against its I-5 foes, although Reign FC has dominated over the past two seasons with a 4-1-0 record, after losing all four matches during the inaugural NWSL season in 2013.
“I really enjoy that we have this rivalry,” said Reign FC defender Rachel Corsie. “The rivalry games are ones you can really appreciate and get excited for. The vibe that you get from playing in those games is really exciting.”
Reign FC thwarted the Thorns 2-0 during the teams’ last meeting, in a pre-season tournament at Providence Park in Portland, Ore., thanks to second-half goals from midfielders Havana Solaun and Jess Fishlock.
Last season, Reign FC shut out Portland over the home and home series, besting the Thorns 1-0 on July 22, 2015 and 3-0 on July 26, 2015 behind two goals in a five-minute span from Yanez. Portland finished the 2015 season with a 6-5-9 record and 23 points, landing them in sixth place. Reign FC closed the season six spots in front of Portland, retaining the NWSL Shield for the second year in a row with a 13-4-3 record on 43 points.
“This is honestly what we live for. Portland is so much fun to play,” said Barnes. “It’s going to be a battle and we all know that going into it, so that’s what makes the game so exciting. There’s going to be two good teams, there’s going to be great soccer, and it’s going to be a great match.”
Tickets to Saturday’s match begin at $18 and can be purchased at reignfc.com/thorns or by calling (855)-REIGN-FC.
Reign FC will remain at home next weekend for a match against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, May 22 at Memorial Stadium with kickoff set for 4:00 p.m. PT. Tickets begin at $18 and can be purchased at reignfc.com/redstars or by calling (855)-REIGN-FC.
About Seattle Reign FC:
Seattle Reign FC is one of ten teams in the National Women’s Soccer League. The NWSL is the premier women’s professional soccer league in North America, featuring many of the top players from the United States, Canada and around the world. Seattle Reign FC train and host home matches at Memorial Stadium, located in the shadow of the Space Needle on the Seattle Center campus. For more information on the club visit reignfc.com.