Reign FC Looks to Extend Winning Streak in Chicago
Coming off its third straight victory, Seattle Reign FC (8-3-5, 29 points) travels to the Midwest for a Saturday night showdown with the Chicago Red Stars (6-4-7, 25 points).
Two of the NWSL‘s top four teams will take the pitch, with Seattle sitting in second place, four points ahead of fourth-place Chicago. The match kicks off at 5:00 p.m. PT from Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.
Reign FC is one of two teams in the league to win their last three matches. Seattle has knocked off its rival Portland Thorns FC, beat the Houston Dash 3-1, and fought for a 1-0 victory against Utah in its last three showings. Only North Carolina has a longer current winning streak, and the first-place Courage are also the only team with a better goal differential (+23) than Seattle (+6).
Steph Catley and Megan Rapinoe joined forces to score Seattle’s match-winning goal against Utah. Taking a corner kick in the 54th minute, Catley dropped a left-footed service to the back post. Rapinoe broke free of her defender and headed the ball across the goal mouth, past Abby Smith and into the net.
The assist marked Catley’s third of the season, second-most among NWSL defenders. Rapinoe now has seven goals in 2018, tied with three other players for second-most in the league. After going scoreless in three of its previous four matches, Seattle has scored five goals during its three-match winning streak. As the offense finds it rhythm, the Reign FC defense has held opponents to the fewest number of goals (13) in the league (a league-leading average of .81 per match). Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski was especially impressed with his defense in the match against Utah.
“We did a very good job containing them, especially Amy Rodriguez and Christen Press,” Andonovski said of Utah’s forwards. “We were able not to give them too much time on the ball. On the other side, we did a good job of moving the ball and switching the point of attack.”
Chicago comes into Saturday’s match having beat Sky Blue FC 3-1 in its most recent fixture. Australian forward Sam Kerr netted a hat trick to put her atop the NWSL goal leaderboard. The Red Stars have scored 25 goals this season and allowed 22, making them one of four teams with a positive goal differential. The team has earned points in four of its last five matches, stumbling only against North Carolina on July 4. While Seattle played a midweek game at home before traveling to Chicago, the Red Stars last played on Saturday, July 7. Andonovski believes that Seattle is hitting its stride just in time for this important matchup.
“I think that we’re moving in the right direction,” Andonovski said. “Ever since Week 1, we’ve talked about getting better every game. Whether we win by one, two, or three goals, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is: we’re making fewer mistakes and looking more mature on the field.”
Saturday’s match features one of the best offensive teams in the league against one of the strongest defensively. While Reign FC has conceded the fewest goals in the league, Chicago has scored the second-most. In addition to Sam Kerr’s goal-scoring prowess, Chicago also boasts two of the leading assisters in the league. Yuki Nagasato and Danielle Colaprico have four assists to match Rapinoe’s total, with Alyssa Mautz tied with Catley at three assists. Chicago also recently welcomed Morgan Brian – a regular contributor to the U.S. Women’s National Team – back to the team after a stint playing for Lyon in France.
Fans can stream the match live via go90.com or the go90 app, with live stats available on the NWSL website at www.nwslsoccer.com. Follow along with live play-by-play of the match on Reign FC’s official Twitter page, @ReignFC, and join the conversation using the hashtag #CHIvSEA.