Reign hopes Dashed in Houston

(Seattle – May 23, 2018) – Playing a mid-week game in the Texas heat, Seattle Reign FC dropped a 2-1 decision on the road to the Houston Dash. Veronica Latsko scored the match-winning goal for Houston in the 92nd minute after entering off the bench at halftime.

Things got going quickly for Seattle’s attack, as their game plan resulted in a chance for Jodie Taylor in the 2nd minute. After getting behind the defense, Taylor tried to chip the ball over the head of Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell. The American keeper got a glove to the shot and kept it out of her net, denying what would have been the earliest goal of Seattle’s season.

Always the scoring threat, Houston’s Rachel Daly tried a long strike in the 7th minute from about 35 yards away. The shot looked promising coming off her foot, but rose a bit too high to cause any trouble. Campbell’s second save of the night later stopped an Allie Long header, by way of a Nahomi Kawasumi corner kick in the 10th minute.

After threatening relentlessly for the first 10 minutes, Seattle finally broke through in the 13th minute. A series of passes led to Jodie Taylor dishing the ball to Beverly Yanez in the box. With the ball perfectly placed for a right-footed shot, Yanez slipped the ball past Campbell. The goal put Reign FC up 1-0 and presented Yanez with her second goal of the year.

Daly tried another ambitious shot in the 22nd minute, looking to place the ball into the upper corner of Seattle’s goal, but the Dash forward laced a shot that was too wide to test Michelle Betos. Play was briefly delayed in the 29th minute as Houston’s medical staff tended to Janine Van Wyk, who remained on the pitch after a brief trip to the sideline.

Playing off a counter-attack, Kyah Simon received a long ball to the right of Seattle’s goal. The Reign FC defense stayed organized and did not allow Simon to release a solid shot, resulting in a harmless cross that Betos left her line to handle.

Yanez tried to add her second goal of the match in the 41st minute. She took the service from Kawasumi and again got the ball to her preferred right foot. This time, she struck the ball up and over the crossbar. Great pressure on a Dash throw-in resulted in another chance before halftime, but Jodie Taylor’s shot was blocked before reaching Campbell.

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Seattle produced three times as many shots as Houston in the first half, shooting nine times to Houston’s three. Reign FC also kept the ball away from Dash players for the vast majority of the half, controlling 69% of the possession over the first 45 minutes. For the sixth time in eight games, Reign FC trotted to the locker room with a halftime lead. Houston was held without a shot on goal in the first 45 minutes of action. Seattle is the only team in the NWSL yet to concede a goal in the first half.

With a one-goal advantage already at his disposal, Vlatko Andonovski opened the second half by subbing Megan Rapinoe into the match. Rapinoe came in to relieve Elizabeth Addo, who had made her first start of the season. Reign FC’s leading goal scorer made her impact felt right away, as Rapinoe delivered a great ball to Jodie Taylor in the box, but Taylor’s first touch led to a turnover.

In the 59th minute, Rapinoe took her first shot on goal, but had it scooped up by Campbell. Michelle Betos checked in with her first save of the night in the 62nd minute, and followed by an even better save in the 65th. Things started to intensify from here, as Kristen McNabb received a yellow card just two minutes later.

The intensity would build to a climax when Houston found the equalizer in the 68th minute. Rachel Daly sent the ball into the box off the free kick stemming from McNabb’s foul. Allie Long and Kristie Mewis rose to meet the ball, which deflected perfectly to the feet of Mewis, who then turned and took a left-footed shot that sent the ball across the goal line.

Another Dash attack in the 73rd started with some menace, but ended with a wayward cross in the hands of Betos. As has become custom, Jasmyne Spencer came in off the bench in an attempt to inject second-half offense into Seattle. Houston countered by inserting Thembi Kgatlana for Nichelle Prince. In the blink of an eye, Houston had created another scoring chance. A dizzying couple of seconds ended with Betos making an incredible save in the 77th minute.

Houston used the momentum of their first goal to endlessly pursue a second. The last 20 minutes of the match showed a Houston side that was much more composed than it was for the first 70. Mewis tried to cap things with a highlight reel goal in the 84th minute but came up empty.

Seattle’s best opportunities of the dying minutes each came in the 85th minute. First, Rumi Utsugi got a running start toward the box and squared up a powerful shot, only for it to get blocked. Not long after, Rapinoe sent a perfectly placed ball to Jodie Taylor’s head, but the British forward missed the target with her shot. In the 90th minute Taylor found space but narrowly missed giving Seattle a game-winner.

With the match winding down, Veronica Latsko surprised Seattle with a stoppage-time winner. With a counter attacked started off what looked to be a game-winner for Seattle, Latsko gathered a pass from Kgatlana, took a touch, and sent a deflected shot just out of the reach of Betos. This goal gave Houston the 2-1 win and supplied the club with its first-ever victory against Seattle.

Reign FC will head directly to New Jersey to prepare for its Saturday, May 26 match against Sky Blue FC before returning home to host Orlando Pride on Sunday, June 3.

Tickets for the June 3 match – which is Orlando’s only trip to Seattle this season – are available at http://www.reignfc.com/tickets.

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