Seattle Reign FC could claim the NWSL Shield when they travel to face the Houston Dash on Wednesday, July 30 in a match broadcast nationally on ESPN3 at 9 p.m. ET at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Depending on the result of the Washington Spirit-FC Kansas City match that kicks off two hours earlier, Reign FC may take the field with the opportunity to clinch the NWSL’s best regular-season record and home-field advantage throughout the 2014 playoffs.
If FC Kansas City drops points against the Spirit, Seattle will have the chance to claim the first silverware in club history. See below for the possible scenarios:
- If FC Kansas City wins, Seattle Reign FC cannot claim the NWSL Shield.
- If FC Kansas City draws, Seattle Reign FC can claim the NWSL Shield with a win.
- If FC Kansas City loses, Seattle Reign FC can claim the NWSL Shield with a win or a draw.
A year ago it was a very different picture for Reign FC, mired in seventh in the standings and on the verge of being mathematically eliminated from the postseason.
Following a flurry of offseason moves by coach and general manager Laura Harvey , Seattle emerged as runaway league leaders with a record-setting seven-game winning streak to start the year – a mark that was later matched by FC Kansas City.
FCKC were the first team to earn a point this season against Reign FC, who continued their record-setting ways June 7 with their 11th consecutive game without a loss – topping the previous mark set by FC Kansas City in 2013.
Seattle would extend their unbeaten run to 16 games before suffering a 1-0 road loss July 12 to the Chicago Red Stars.
Reign FC’s success this season has been built on the back of the moves Harvey made during the offseason that strengthened a squad anchored by midfielder Jess Fishlock and forward Megan Rapinoe by bringing in a host of key contributors – including forwards Bev Goebel (4 goals, 4 assist), Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi (7 goals, 4 assists) and Sydney Leroux (4 goals) as well as midfielder Kim Little (12 goals, 5 assists).
The moves have paid off with 29 of Seattle’s 40 goals this season scored by players who were not on the squad last season.
In addition to the No. 1 offense in the league, Reign FC also boast the top-ranked defense having allowed just 15 goals in 19 matches – 11 fewer than their closest competitors – behind the efforts of goalkeeper Hope Solo and her backline of Stephanie Cox, Kendall Fletcher, Elli Reed and Lauren Barnes.
Seattle will have their work cut out for themselves on Wednesday when they line up against the Dash.
Managing Director Brian Ching and coach Randy Waldrum worked tirelessly to put together a competitive team since the Dash was announced in December 2013 as the NWSL’s first expansion club.
Houston comes into the contest in eighth in the NWSL standings, having taken 18 points through their first 18 games of the season.
Forward Ella Masar scored the first goal in franchise history during the team’s first-ever victory – a 3-2 comeback win April 20 over the Boston Breakers.
The Dash slumped to four consecutive losses after that victory and eventually saw their winless run extend to seven games before producing the first winning streak in their history as they ran off consecutive victories against the Western New York Flash, Sky Blue FC and the Flash again.
Despite having scored the fewest goals in the league so far this season, Houston has featured a balanced attack – with forwards Tiffany McCarty (4 goals), Kealia Ohai (3 goals), Nina Burger (2 goals) and Masar (3 goals) as well as midfielders Teresa Noyola (3 goals) and Jordan Jackson (2 goals) all multi-goal scorers for the Dash.
Goalkeeper Erin McLeod has made 15 starts for the club this season and made 67 saves while posting a record of 4-8-3 with two shutouts.
The match Wednesday is the second of three encounters this season between Houston and Reign FC – with the third meeting scheduled for Aug. 6 in Seattle.
Reign FC claimed the first-ever meeting between the two sides behind two of Little’s NWSL record-tying 12 goals this season as well as three saves from Solo.