SEATTLE, WA––(Reign release) In the final match before the NWSL Olympic break, Seattle Reign FC visit their Cascadia rivals, Portland Thorns FC Saturday night July 30 at 7:30 PM at Providence Park. This is the third of four meetings between the two teams this season.
The game 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 #PORvSEA.
Reign FC (5-4-5, 20 points) are coming off of a 5-2 victory against the Orlando Pride. The match was the final regular-season meeting between the two teams. The season series ends in a tie, with each team winning one game.
“We got what we deserved on Saturday. We performed. We were a threat the whole game,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey. “We’re just really happy we were able to put a team under that much pressure, because we haven’t been able to do that a lot this year.”
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Reign FC are currently unbeaten in their last four matches against Portland, and has an all-time record of 4-5-2 against the Thorns. Both teams are looking for their first win against each other this season, with the previous meetings both ending in ties.
Depending on other results across NWSL play this weekend, a win could potentially move Seattle into fourth place for the final playoff spot. A victory could also put Reign FC just two points out of third place.
“We’ve been picking up points, but its three…sometimes one,” said Reign FC midfielder Kim Little. “I think to get another three [points] is very important, especially with just six games left.”
“We can’t be in a position where draws are ok, they’re not,” said Harvey. “We’ve got to go there and win for our own sanity, irrelevant of the standings. I think it’s really important to us that we put on a performance that we’re proud of.”
Portland (7-2-5, 26 points) is in first place on the NWSL table and is coming off of a bye week. The Thorns are currently on a two-game losing streak, following their first loss of the season to FC Kansas City on July 9.
Despite being tied for second in the league in goals scored with 19, the Thorns have only scored one goal in their past two matches.
The Thorns have the second-most representatives at the Olympic games in the league, with six players heading to Rio. This weekend, Portland will be missing Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long, Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Sonnett, Christine Sinclair, and Amandine Henry.
“We played them at the end of May, in a similar position where they didn’t have a lot of [international] players, and we were really unhappy with how we performed that day,” said Harvey. “We have to go down there with the mentality that we want to win the game because that’s vital for us now.”
“There’s obviously several great players that are away at the Olympics, so for us it’s just about trying to capitalize on that,” said Little.
In the absence of seven international players, Thorns FC have welcomed the return of defender Kat Williamson. Williamson missed time after undergoing meniscus surgery earlier this season. In her first match back, Williamson scored against FC Kansas City.
Reign FC will be looking to break down the Portland defense with the help of Little, who scored her 30th career NWSL goal in last Sunday’s match against Orlando.
Little’s goal came in the 21st minute, when she calmly slotted home a penalty kick. The midfielder is the first player ever to reach the 30 goal milestone. The goal was Little’s first in eight matches.
“It’s awfully nice to score so many goals and to get to 30, but I think more important is scoring and then winning for us right now,” said Little.
“I think for Kim she’s obviously had a bit of a goal scoring drought in her standards this year,” said Harvey. “When you score that many goals over…two and a half seasons, it’s consistency that gives you that. Hopefully that goal from last weekend can push her on this year.”
Seattle was without Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Rumi Utsugi for last weekend’s match against Orlando. While Solo and Rapinoe are heading to the 2016 Rio Olympics with the U.S. Women’s National Team, Utsugi will be back and available for selection this weekend.
Utsugi was in camp with the Japan Women’s National Team. Japan fell 3-0 in a friendly against Sweden on July 21.
Reign FC will also be without Rachel Corsie for this weekend’s match, who is missing time due to a left meniscus tear.
“It is, of course, difficult to be sidelined through injury and especially at this point in the year. However, I am determined and positive to come back stronger and better before the end of our season,” said Corsie. “I know I will work my absolute hardest and together, with the team here, we will overcome all the challenges ahead. [In the] meantime I will support the team in every way I can.”
The expected recovery time for Corsie is 10 weeks, and Reign FC will be looking for her to potentially return at the end of the regular-season.
“We’re disappointed that Rachel’s injury is going to be longer than we all first thought it would be, but we feel that we have put ourselves in a good position to push on to the end of the season,” said Harvey. “We’re going to do everything we can to help her get back as quickly as possible.”