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Seattle Reign FC Head to North Carolina Looking for Third-Straight Win

Seattle Reign FC rolls into Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, North Carolina this Wednesday, April 18, in a meeting of the National Women’s Soccer League‘s top two teams. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m. PT.

Reign FC comes into the showdown with North Carolina Courage after escaping New Jersey with three points. In a rainy match that featured a kickoff temperature of 41 degrees and winds up to 16 miles per hour, Seattle topped Sky Blue FC by a score of 1-0. Megan Rapinoe knocked in the only goal of the match on an early penalty kick, while Michelle Betos kept Sky Blue FC out of the net and Jess Fishlock provided stout defending all over the field. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski said his team showed a lot of character in Sunday’s match, and while he wants the team to play better moving forward, he was happy with the end result. According to Andonovski, the team is also finally comfortable on east coast time after struggling to adjust during the first few days of the road trip.

Seattle will be without six players for Wednesday’s match, including Japan’s Nahomi Kawasumi and Rumi Utsugi, as well as Australia’s Steph Catley and Lydia Williams, who are away at the Asian Cup with their respective national teams. In addition, Reign FC will be without the talents of forward Megan Rapinoe, who picked up a left hamstring strain in Sunday’s match against Sky Blue FC. Forward Jaycie Johnson, who was signed as a national team replacement player, will also be unavailable for the match due to injury.

Wednesday’s match features the only two remaining NWSL teams without a loss or tie. The Courage picked up two home wins over the Portland Thorns and Sky Blue FC before triumphing in Washington on Saturday. Seattle’s early schedule is comprised of wins versus Washington and Sky Blue FC. North Carolina won each of the three meetings between these squads last season.

Vlatko Andonovski is aware of the challenge that North Carolina presents. Their fast and aggressive style of play, as well as the depth of its roster, makes for a very formidable opponent.

“They’re a threat everywhere,” said Andonovski. “They find midfielders in the seam, if you squeeze in and overload the midfield they’ll switch the point of attack. Then you have two fullbacks who are attack-minded. They go up and down, and they’re fast.”

North Carolina earned a road victory in its last outing, beating Washington Spirit 4-2. McCall Zerboni’s two goals sparked the Courage attack and placed her tied for second with Rapinoe on the NWSL goal leaderboard, a performance which netted Zerboni NWSL Player of the Week honors. The Courage not only own the best goal record and goal differential in the league, but the team also has several players who excel on the international level.

Crystal Dunn, Samantha Mewis, Lynn Williams, Abby Dahlkemper, Jessica McDonald, and McCall Zerboni have combined for over 120 caps with the USWNT. In addition, North Carolina is also home to Debinha, who has tallied 22 international goals for Brazil. Denise O’Sullivan of Ireland, Yuri Kawamura of Japan, Sabrina D’Angelo of Canada, and Abby Erceg of New Zealand round out the list of Courage players with international experience. Wednesday’s game will also be the first time former Reign defender Merritt Mathias gets a chance to play her old team.

“They had an outstanding squad last year and added a world-class player in Crystal Dunn. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that they are a very good team and the clear favorites to win the league this year,” said Andonovski. “It’s going to be an exciting match. They’re in a good rhythm, which will be a great test for us.”

Fans in the U.S. not attending the match can stream the game live on go90.com or go90’s app, while international fans can follow the action at NWSLsoccer.com. Fans can also can follow along with live play-by-play of the match on Reign FC’s official Twitter page, @ReignFC, and can join the conversation using the hashtag #NCCvSEA.

Seattle’s next home match will be Saturday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m. PT, in an early-season rematch against Sky Blue FC. Tickets for the May 12 match are available at www.reignfc.com/tickets.

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