Seattle Reign

Seattle Reign FC Ready for Mid-Week Match with Houston Dash.

Coming off a 0–0 tie on a drizzly night in Seattle, Reign FC heads south for a mid-week NWSL game in the Houston heat. Seattle kicks off against Houston Dash at BBVA Compass Stadium on Wednesday, May 23 at 5:00 p.m. PT.

Saturday’s scoreless tie was the first time Seattle was shutout since April 18 against North Carolina Courage. Lydia Williams earned Player of the Match honors after making four saves to preserve a clean sheet. In the 42nd minute, she made a leaping save to keep a header from Arin Gilliland out of the net. Williams has started each of Seattle’s last two games in net, allowing just one goal in 180 minutes.

Playing without Megan Oyster for the first time in 2018, Reign FC highlighted its depth on the back line. Lauren Barnes returned to the starting lineup and held down Seattle’s defense, playing a big hand in keeping Chicago off the board. Alyssa Kleiner, in just her third game with the team, started for Reign FC at right back. This was the sixth unique lineup deployed by head coach Vlatko Andonovski over Seattle’s seven matches.

The blemish-free defensive effort was an encouraging sign for Reign FC. Shutting down a talented Chicago roster and allowing just four shots on goal — with no shots from forward Sam Kerr — speaks to the defensive prowess of Seattle.

“I thought we played well as a team even though we didn’t score,” Andonovski said. “I felt like we created goal-scoring opportunities. That’s very positive. The goals will come.”

Knowing that Megan Rapinoe, Jodie Taylor, Allie Long, and other attack-minded players are capable of lighting up the scoring sheet, seeing a stout effort from the defense is encouraging. Andonovski believes the offense will find its footing, and his team will be in great shape if they can continue to defend like they did against the Red Stars.

“The defense did very well, Lydia, the whole team did very well,” Andonovski said. “We kept some of the most dangerous players from scoring opportunities. Also, we kept the whole team away from our goal. We were able to press high and win the ball often.”

While Seattle is unbeaten in its last four games, Houston is winless in its last three. On May 5, Houston knocked off Sky Blue FC in a 3–2 decision. Since then, the team has tied against Portland and Chicago, and lost to Utah Royals FC. Heading into Wednesday’s match, Houston is seventh in the league with seven points and a 1–4–4 record. Forward Rachel Daly leads the team in scoring with two of Houston’s seven goals on the season.

While they have had their challenges early in the season, Houston is a dangerous squad that boasts some elite talent. Kyah Simon has represented Australia at multiple World Cups. Goalkeeper Jane Campbell is viewed as one of the world’s best at her position, and a likely member of the 2019 UWSNT World Cup squad. And despite coming back from an ACL injury, Kealia Ohai remains a threat around the goal.

“I think it will be a tactical battle,” Andonovski said of the Dash. “Houston is a very organized team. They have a plan and they execute their plan. It will be our responsibility to find small gaps and seams that we can expose.”

Fans can watch the action live via go90.com or the go90 app and view live stats of the match 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 #HOUvSEA.

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