SEATTLE,WA–– (Reign release) For the second time in a week, Seattle Reign FC will face off against the Western New York Flash, this time at Memorial Stadium in the BECU Olympic Sendoff Match. Reign FC head into the match with a 2-1-2 record in their last five games.
Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe will be in attendance and will participate in a pre-match ceremony to celebrate the selection of Solo and Rapinoe to the USWNT team. Solo and Rapinoe will depart next week for their final preparations prior to the Summer Olympics in Rio.
Neither Solo nor Rapinoe will be available for selection in Saturday’s match.
The game against the Flash will be live-streamed on the NWSL’s official YouTube channel and can be watched at youtube.com/nwsl. Fans can also follow live play-by-play at the Reign’s official Twitter page, @SeattleReignFC, and can join the conversation using the hashtag #SEAvWNY.
Reign FC (4-4-4, 16 points) are coming off of a dramatic 3-2 loss against the Flash. The loss ended Reign FC’s five-game shutout streak, but the Reign FC defense set yet another NWSL record, posting 531 minutes without conceding a goal.
Reign FC got on the scoreboard first, with a goal from Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi in the 23rd minute of the match. Beverly Yanez played a ball forward to Manon Melis, who was sprinting down the sideline. Melis controlled the ball and cut inside her defender to send a cross into the box. Naho was waiting on the back post and calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net.
The goal is Naho’s third in two games, tying her for the team lead in goals with Kim Little.
The Flash would go on to score three unanswered goals, but Reign FC continued to push forward and pulled back within one goal through a Rumi Utsugi goal in second-half stoppage time.
Utsugi met up with the team in Rochester the day before the match and saw 15 minutes of action. It is expected that she will continue to see an increase in minutes as the season continues.
“[Rumi brings] composure and quality on the ball,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey. “That’s no surprise, we knew that about her and that’s why we wanted to sign her. [I’m] pleased she was able to go in and make a bit of a difference.”
This was the first time this season Reign FC scored multiple goals in back-to-back games. With the introduction of Naho and Utsugi, the offense is consistently creating chances in the run of play.
“I think we created a lot of chances in the game,” said Harvey. “I think we can be disappointed with ourselves that we didn’t take more of those chances, but I think that’s something positive that we can build on for sure. We’ve just got to put the ball in the back of the net.”
The Western New York Flash (8-4-0, 24 points) are in second place on the table, and will be looking to continue their current three-game winning streak. Forward Lynn Williams is both the team and league leader in goals scored this season with seven. Williams’ speed is a key component to the Flash offense.
“Whenever you’re dealing with speed, its more about positioning rather than trying to match the speed,” said Seattle Reign FC captain Keelin Winters “If you can match it great, but…just tactically being able to be in a position where you’re not getting into a race [is important].”
Another key figure in the Flash’s league-leading attack is Jessica McDonald. The forward has three goals and four assists in the last three matches. McDonald has never scored against Seattle.
“I think, with the Flash, we know what they’re capable of doing,” said Harvey. “Their personnel have been really dominant this season in terms of goal scoring and being a real threat going forward.”
Reign FC will look to build on its all-time winning record of 5-2-3 against the Western New York Flash. Depending on other results across NWSL play this weekend, Reign FC could move as high as fifth place in the standings and gain valuable points in the race for a playoff spot.
“Obviously we’re in a position now where we need to be winning games, so I think [in practices] everybody showed a lot of grit and determination,” said Winters. “That’s exactly what we need moving forward.”
As a result of Hope Solo being named to the U.S. Olympic Roster and Haley Kopmeyer unavailable due to injury, Reign FC has added goalkeepers Andi Tostanoski and Abby Steele as amateur players. Both Tostanoski and Steele will be on the roster and available for selection in the match.
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe was earlier expected to be on the Reign FC roster for the match this weekend, but due to a minor injury unrelated to the ACL injury she sustained in December, she is now no longer available for selection. Saturday would have been Rapinoe’s first appearance for Reign FC this season.
Tickets to the BECU Olympic Sendoff Match against the WNY Flash begin at $18 and can be purchased by calling (855)-REIGN-FC or by visiting reignfc.com/flash. The first 2,000 fans arriving at Memorial Stadium will receive a free Reign FC baseball cap, courtesy of BECU, the official banking partner of Seattle 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.