Ballard FC hosts Spokane Velocity FC in 2024 US Open Cup First Round

Ballard FC 0
Spokane Velocity FC 1
March 20, 2024
Seattle, WA – Memorial Stadium
2024 US Open Cup – First Round

Ballard FC hosted Spokane Velocity FC in the 1st round of the 2024 US Open Cup in Seattle Wednesday evening at Memorial Stadium. The USL League One and League Two clubs both entered the tournament at this stage.

The 2024 US Open Cup opened play amidst controversy. With US Soccer and MLS at odds over participation, the tournament was modified with a compromise of some but not all MLS clubs participating.

2023 League Two champions Ballard FC were playing their first competitive match of 2024 with new head coach James Riley in a different setting. Seattle’s Memorial Stadium is the temporary home for the club due to renovations at Interbay Stadium. Memorial Stadium has an interesting soccer history in the town with the NASL and USL era Seattle Sounders, NWSL Seattle Reign FC, and other clubs and colleges having used the stadium for many decades. The old crumbling stadium has seen much better days.

Spokane Velocity FC are joining the USL League One in 2024 as an expansion side. This first season also gives them their first opportunity to play in the national cup. Having already played and split two league matches, the midweek cup match is sandwiched between two home league matches. The Velocity dropped their opener on the road, but opened the brand new One Spokane Stadium this past weekend with three points.

The early stages of the match was played at a fairly brisk pace. Both sides attacked long and direct, trying for the early lead on the Memorial Stadium fast and narrow pitch. The challenges were tough, neither side flinching from contact with only the winner advancing.

Ballard took it right at their new cross state rivals. But, despite the pressure and chances, the Velocity defense did not break. Near misses in the middle of the first half could have really altered the match. Spokane pressed back, having success on the flank getting into dangerous places. However, the lack of goals and score remaining level into the interval set up an interesting dynamic for the second half.

The second half showed no signs of the match slowing down. Ballard kept their foot on the pedal, but the goal did not come. Eventually, Spokane began to own more of the possession and as the second half progressed, the ball was more and more in front of the Ballard goal.

The later stages got tense, as the ongoing physical play led to a number of second half yellow cards in short succession. Even with all of the action in front of both goals the regulation ninety minutes did not see either side breaking through, setting the match into stoppage time looking for the goal that actually came late in the chilly March Seattle evening.

Spokane would take their chance on what was essentially the final sequence of the match late in stoppage time. Andre Lewis’ late stoppage volley in the 96th minute would suddenly silence the 2,452 raucous fans. Moments later, it was the final whistle. Spokane moves on. Ballard now has a bit of a wait to regroup and sort out their regular season roster prior to the May opener.

Ballard is looking to build on their two seasons of success, and the Wednesday night cup crowd was loud and solid from the early stages. A bit of a makeshift line up was needed due to the scheduling of the first round, but that did not seem to be evident from watching the match. Ballard has a solid core of players to continue to build on.

Spokane new must quickly return to league play at home this weekend, with a second round match also now on their schedule.

Seattle Reign FC sale saga nears end

OL Groupe announced March 18 an agreement on the sale of Seattle Reign FC to a group including the Seattle Sounders FC and the investment firm Carlyle.

The sale price has been noted as $58m with NWSL Board of Directors approval pending. Closing is expected soon.

The Reign recently rebranded back to the original Seattle Reign FC from OL Reign. The club has also moved training to the Starfire space the Sounders used for many seasons prior to the opening of their Longacres operations site.

The press release indicates additional details will be announced over time, along with the final approval. The long rumored sale saga appears to be nearing completion.

The Reign opened the 2024 NWSL regular season Sunday with a 1-0 win over Washington Spirit at Lumen Field.

Seattle Reign FC opens 2024 season versus Washington Spirit

Seattle Reign FC 1
Washington Spirit 0
March 17, 2024
Lumen Field – Seattle, WA
NWSL Regular Season

Seattle Reign FC and Washington Spirit opened their 2024 NWSL seasons on a beautiful St. Patrick’s Day afternoon in Seattle.

Both clubs are in interesting spots heading into their first matches. The Spirit began a new era with coach Adrián González Morales and some lofty expectations. The Spirit attack would be without Trinity Rodman for the opener, serving a red card suspension from the final match of 2023.

The Reign move forward after high profile departures and the retirement of Megan Rapinoe, but return a sizeable core. The Reign introduced their international signings earlier in the week, along with the signings of Sam Meza and Maddie Mercado from their 2024 draft class and the club’s first U18 signing Emeri Adames. There are lingering questions about the club sale and ownership behind the scenes. All three new international signings were in the Reign starting XI.

It did not take long for the match to ramp up. Eleven seconds into the match after kickoff, the Reign won a penalty when Jordyn Huitema was fouled in the box. Bethany Balcer would step up and convert and it was one nil to the home side almost immediately.

The quick goal did not seem to alter the approach either side took early in the match. Both clubs press and attack and did so. Spirit keeper Aubrey Kingsbury was called upon for multiple saves in the first stanza, as Seattle found some success going down the wing and getting crosses into dangerous places.

The Spirit attack pressed hard against a Reign defense that was without two presumed starters in Lu Barnes and Alana Cook, but were unable to break through in the first half. The penalty would stand as the only goal of the half and the two teams would go into the interval with the one nil scoreline.

The second half was similar to the first. Both midfields were tough to crack through, with much of the offensive pressure coming from getting down a flank. Where the Spirit were often looking to find Ashley Hatch and the Reign would go wide to get the ball in to Balcer or Huitema.

Washington found the net in the 69th minute, but VAR review would negate it and leave the match a open goal affair entering the final twenty minutes.

VAR would again play a role down the stretch, as Spirit keeper Kingsbury would be sent off for a handball just over the 18 yard line.

In the end, a fairly balanced match with an early penalty goal holding up.

After the match Bethany Balcer commented about the early penalty. “We’re always trying to score of kickoff, but it’s never worked, so this was the first time it worked and it was kind of like, ‘Oh, we’ve got a PK, so let’s put this away,’ and I think it set the tone for the game, which was exactly what we wanted to do.”

Seattle would give the debut appearance to their first U18 signing Emeri Adames for the lengthy stoppage time. When asked about the debut, Seattle coach Laura Harvey on what she told Adames prior to going on the pitch, “‘Go score kid because you’re good.’ You wait, this kid is unbelievable.”

Next up, Seattle travels to Chicago March 23rd to face the Red Stars and Washington hosts expansion Bay FC the same evening at Audi Field.


Scoring Summary

SEA: Balcer – 3’
WAS: None


SEA: None
WAS: Wiesner (Caution – 13′), Krueger (Caution – 83’), Kingsbury (Red card – 90+1)


SEA: GK Dickey, D Huerta, D Holmes (Brown 90+5’), D McClernon, D Woodham (Barnes 63’), M Fishlock (c), M So-Yun (Athens 90+4’), M Quinn, M James-Turner (Van der Jagt 63’), F Balcer (Adames 90+6’), F Huitema
Unused substitutes: GK Ivory, M Stanton, F King, M Meza

Total Shots: 15 (So-Yun, Huitema – 3)
Shots on Goal: 6 (Fishlock – 2)
Fouls: 10 (Woodham – 3)
Offsides: 2
Corner Kicks: 4
Saves: 1 (Dickey – 1)

WAS: GK Kingsbury (c), D Krueger, D Wiesner (Butel 45+2’), D McKeown, D Carle, M Bethune (Bosselman 90+3’), M Sullivan, M Hershfelt, F Sarr, F Ratcliffe (Morris 65’), F Hatch (Brown 65’)
Unused substitutes: F Silano, DHeilferty, M Stainbrook, M Metayer, F Ricketts

Total Shots: 2 (Bethune, Hatch – 2)
Shots on Goal: 1 (Hatch – 1)
Fouls: 13 (Hershfelt – 3)
Offsides: 0
Corner Kicks: 3
Saves: 5 (Kingsbury – 5)

Referee: Natalie Simon
Assistant Referee 1: Seth Maritn
Assistant Referee 2: Melissa Beck
4th Official: Jaclyn Metz
VAR: Kevin Broadley
AVAR: Maggie Short

Reign win 5-2 Over Chicago

OL Reign 5

Chicago Red Stars 2

April 22, 2023

Lumen Field – Seattle, WA

NWSL Regular Season

OL Reign and Chicago Red Stars met Saturday afternoon in Seattle at Lumen Field. 

The Reign were playing their third match in eight days with a midweek away Challenge Cup match in Los Angeles midweek. With squad rotation at the forefront, a successful two nil victory over Angel City with the stoppage time victory over San Diego last weekend, the Reign were riding a defensive goalless week into the match.

Chicago came into the match having found the net four times against Kansas City Current; a good result as they sort out the season ending loss of Mallory Swanson to a knee injury. For the Red Stars, nabbing four goals and three points in that first match after the loss of Swanson potentially bodes well for the resiliency of the side in 2023.

Photos by Lee Pate

The early going in the first half saw both sides poking and prodding for openings, but neither pressing up with numbers or pushing the envelope.  

About a dozen minutes in the hosts kicked up the pressure, Tziarra King, Jordyn Huitema, and Veronica Latsko all began to get and create chances.  In the fifteenth minute the pressure would pay off with Bethany Balcer slotting a right footed shot low after a series of touches in the box and the Reign had an early one nil lead.

Balcer would get her head on another cross a few minutes later to nab her second goa and it was a sudden two goal advantage.

The Red Stars were forced to make an early concussion sub when Cheyna Matthews came off in the 30th minute for Allison Schlegel.  Moments later, the Red Stars would halve the Seattle lead when Arin Wright converted from the top of the penalty area.  VAR review would confirm the goal.

The Reign would continue to press as the half wound down, while Chicago was finding more and more opportunities pushing forward with rookie Penelope Hocking and others stretching the defense.

Jessica Fishlock would score a stoppage time goal to extend the Reign lead back to two goals and the match would go into the interval 3-1 to the home side.

Megan Rapinoe entered the match at the half, having picked up yellow card on the bench in the first half.

Chicago wasted no time grabbing back a goal in the first minute out of the break. Schlegel would get a quick turn in the box on her right foot and stunned the Reign defense right out of the gate to cut the lead to 3-2.

Where the early going of the first half had appeared to be both teams playing fairly cautious, but the early stages of the second half this was a wide open match.

The 73rd minute would find the Reign with a set piece outside the box on the upper corner.  Rapinoe’s shot was deflected by a Chicago defender past Alyssa Naeher bringing the lead back to two at 4-2.

The hosts would strike again moments later as Jessica Fishlock found the net to make it 5-2 with fifteen minutes to play.

The early goals in this match really opened up the play.  Chicago getting a goal back during the first half and right out of the gate in the second contributed to keeping the match wide open. 

The Reign successfully navigated the three match week, grabbing full points from all matches.  

The Red Stars can score, showing they have scoring options despite the loss of Swanson to injury.  However, they find themselves with only three points looking up after four matches.



RGN: Balcer – 15’, 20’, Fishlock – 45+5’, 76’, Rapinoe – 73’

CHI: Wright – 32’, Schlegel – 46’


RGN: Rapinoe (Caution – 21’)

CHI: Bike (Caution – 85’), Milazzo (Caution – 90+2’)


RGN: GK Tullis-Joyce, D Huerta (Canales 89’), D Cook, D Hiatt, D Barnes ©, M Sonnett, M Fishlock, F Balcer (Bennett 78’), F Latsko (Stanton 67’), F Huitema (Brown 89’), F King (Rapinoe 46’)

Unused substitutes: GK Dickey, M Athens, D Malonson, D Holmes

Total Shots: 15 (Fishlock – 4)

Shots on Goal: 5 (Balcer, Fishlock – 2)

Fouls: 10 (Four tied with– 2)

Offsides: 1

Corner Kicks: 2

Saves: 3 (Tullis-Joyce – 3)

CHI: GK Naeher, D Kreuger, D Davison, D Milazzo, M Rocarro, M Nagasato (Bianchi 82’), M St. Georges (Bike 82’), M Wright (Aguilera 83’), F Stevens (Cook 60’), F Hocking, F Matthews (Schlegel 30’)

Unused substitutes: GK Boyd, F Griffith, M Feller, M Fisher

Total Shots: 10 (Hocking, Wright – 2)

Shots on Goal: 5 (Five tied with – 1)

Fouls: 8 (Hocking – 2)

Offsides: 0

Corner Kicks: 4

Saves: 0

Referee: JC Griggs

Assistant Referee 1: Melissa Beck

Assistant Referee 2: Christian Clerc

4th Official: Adorae Monroy

Var: Daniel Radford

Avar: Emma Richards

Stoppage time goal gives OL Reign 1-0 win over San Diego Wave

[JL is still having technical issues with WordPress, so I’m posting his copy for him. – VT]

OL Reign 1
San Diego Wave FC 0
April 15, 2023
Lumen Field – Seattle, WA
NWSL Regular Season

The OL Reign hosted the San Diego Wave FC in Seattle at Lumen Field on Staurday night. Match day three of the NWSL Regular season was the home opener for the Reign coming off the recent international break.

Both sides went into the break on a winning note, with the Reign bouncing back from an opening loss and San Diego taking the full six points from the opening two matches while averaging three goals per match.

The Seattle side came into the match with a new distraction. Earlier in the week it became known that the OL Groupe was actively in a process to sell the club. Details are slim at this stage, but it appears that changes are again on the horizon for a club in its eleventh season, third brand identity, and fourth stadium home.

Additionally, with the next international window being when players are released for World Cup duty, NWSL sides now have a couple months and a dozen or more league and Challenge Cup matches wihtout interuption.

In an odd scheduling quirk, despite having played both league and Challenge Cup matches last season, the two sides had not faced each other in almost a year. The Wave are no longer the expansion side trying to get off to a good start and Seattle is playing its first home match coming off a NWSL Shield winning season.

The match began with a rapid pace of play. OL Reign pressed hard in the first minutes, Emily Sonnett getting forward in the first minute and the home side keeping San Diego mostly in their own defensive third a good chunk of the first half.The Reign created a number of good early opportunities, but were unable to break through the Wave defense to get the early goal. As the first half moved along, the Wave began to find their spots, getting Alex Morgan forward with some through balls and putting pressure on the Reign in transition.San Diego’s defense managed to hold their shape against the quick combination play and high press Seattle likes to play. Moving into the later stages of the first half the Wave got forward creating dangerous situations, but neither side was breaking through on the scoreboard. The Wave were rewarded with their pressure with their first corners, pushing the Reign back into their own defensive third for the first lengthy stretches.The match would go into the interval level and goalless.

Where the home Reign had pushed forward in the first minute on the kickoff, the Wave followed suit pushing forward and getting the Reign on their heels to open the second half.The Wave nearly opened the scoring in those first few mintues, but Phallon Tullis-Joyce was up to the task on back to back shots by Alex Morgan and Amirah Ali. It was clear San Diego had come out of the interval with their foot on the gas.As the middle of the half approached and the match remained scoreless, both sides began to vary their offensive approach. The Wave began to add numbers to their attacks. The Reign began to work the ball more wide, creating more crosses and diagonal runs.

The first group of substitutions came along in the 64th as coaches Laura Harvbey and Casey Stoney began to tinker with frest legs and line up changes.Megan Rapinoe entered the match in the 72nd minute, and her impact was nearly instant. Jess Fishlock fopund Rapinoe on the left flank, a few touches later she launched a shot from the top of the box. Wave keeper Kailen Sheridan was up to the task, snatching the ball out of the air diving to her left. Moments later Sheridan was again tested as Rapinoe and Bethany Balcer nearly connected on a through ball across the goal.

As regulation wound down to ten minutes, San Diego’s excellent counter once again put the Reign defense on their heels. Once again, the goalkeepers were up to the task at each end.

The final minutes and stoppage were end to end with neither side playing for the draw.

The winner did come in the fifth minute of stoppage. Olivia Van der Jagt scored on a shot through traffic that got past Sheridan to her right. Moments later, the 1-0 scoreline would hold.

A terrific end for the Reign, grabbing the full three points. A brutal end for the Wave, that had looked like they would grab a deserved road point.




RGN: Van der Jagt – 90+5’
SD: None


RGN: None
SD: Hill (Caution – 90+4’)


RGN: GK Tullis-Joyce, D Barnes, D Hiatt, D Cook, D Huerta, D Sonnett (Quinn 79’), M Fishlock, M Van der Jagt, F King (Rapinoe 73’), F Balcer, F Huitema (Bennett 87’)
Unused substitutes: GK Ivory, M Stanton, M Athens, D Brown, F Latsko, D Holmes

Total Shots: 16 (Fishlock – 5)
Shots on Goal: 5 (Rapinoe – 2)
Fouls: 12 (Four tied with– 2)
Offsides: 3
Corner Kicks: 4
Saves: 3

SD: GK Sheridan, D McNabb, D Girma, D Riehl, D Westphal, M Kornieck (Jakobsson 79’), M Colaprico (Briede 64’), F Shaw (Hill 87’), F Doniak, F Morgan, F Ali (Turnbow 64’)
Unused substitutes: M Enge, D Pogarch, D Gyau, GK Brzykcy

Total Shots: 10 (Morgan – 3)
Shots on Goal: 3 (Morgan – 2)
Fouls: 10 (Doniak – 3)
Offsides: 1
Corner Kicks: 3
Saves: 4 (Sheridan – 4)

Referee: Tori Penso
Assistant Referee 1: Brooke Mayo
Assistant Referee 2: Katarzyna Wasiak
4th Official: Corbyn May
Var: Christopher Spivey
Avar: Tyler Wyrostek

Preseason International Friendly: Club América Femenil 1 @ OL Reign 3

[Jeff is having some struggles with his account, so I’m posting for him – Vanya. This should be under his byline. No idea why WordPress is giving us fits.]

OL Reign 3
Club America Femenil 1
February 25, 2023
Starfire Stadium – Tukwila, WA
Club International Friendly

It was a beautiful, albeit frozen, Pacific Northwest February evening and OL Reign hosted new partner Club America Femenil in a club international friendly in the cozy confines of Starfire Stadium.

For the host Reign it was also a first chance to get on the pitch against a professional opponent since the disappointment of the semifinal loss to Kansas City Current that ended their 2022 run. An offseason training move to Starfire has placed the club back training on the site of the inaugural season 2013 grounds. Hosting matches like this club international friendly could become a semi-regular occurrence moving forward.

The hosts pressed early, going for the opening goal. Bethany Balcer got an early break in on goal, but the Club America defense held off the initial attacks.

In the 11th minute Tziarra King got a pretty touch with a left footed volley on the fly into the America net to give the Reign their first goal. The goal was a solid combination of cross from Veronica Latsko to King’s finish; with King hitting a clean touch just over the reach of the keeper into the net.





Both supporters groups in the announced crowd of 2666 were in good form, bringing a rocking atmosphere to the small Starfire Stadium set up.

America would regroup from the goal and in the 29th minute, as a series of shots had the Reign defense working to cover as two shots hit the crossbar and left goalpost in brief succession.

The match went into the half at two nil. A first half stoppage time own goal suddenly doubled the lead just seconds before the whistle. Bethany Balcer broke down the left side and send a well timed long thru ball that took an unfortunate deflection off the CAF defender and past the CAF keeper into the net.

Reign Coach Laura Harvey shifted out half of her starters at the interval, bringing on five replacements. Jess Fishlock was one of the players that entered the match at the half and immediately broke through past the defense to create a scoring chance. The starting eleven and a number of the players that entered at the half looks to be a likely rotation Seattle fans can expect to see during the World Cup in the summer.

The 74th minute was finally the breakthrough for Club America. Kiana Palacios slotted a ball past the Reign defense and cut the lead to 2-1, adding late drama to the proceedings.

Non-roster invitee McKenzie Weinert capped the evening off in the 89th minute, driving a left footed shot past into the net and making the most of an opportunity in the later stages to get minutes. The 3-1 scoreline would turn out to be the final score, in what was a pretty entertaining match.

Club America is in its regular season and showed the ability to create dangerous moments. The own goal just prior to the half altered the trajectory of the match, but getting the goal back in the second half to cut the lead showed their class.

Much of the roster moves and preseason for the Reign seems to have given focus to the period of time when seven or eight regular starters for the Reign are likely to be gone for an extended period. As all NWSL clubs face choices on what to do roster wise for the matches during that period, the Reign’s approach has been to utilize the early training camp period to simulate much of that part of the season up front. The Reign will miss starters on all three lines with Huerta, Rapinoe, Quinn, Huitema, Cook, Lavelle, and Sonnett all in line to be representing the USA and Canada. Having veterans like Lu Barnes, Jess Fishlock, Bethany Balcer, and Tziarra King available to build around sets OL Reign up pretty well for the international absences.

There were a number of big moves in the offseason around the league. The Reign did move to bring in Emily Sonnett and recently signed Brazilian Luany, but much of the clubs moves this offseason were in retaining and extending contracts and building on the Huitema deal midseason 2022.
OL Reign used the match to get all three of its keepers minutes. Regular starter Phallon Tullis-Joyce took the first forty-five. Laurel Ivory and Claudia Dickey split the minutes in the second half, with Dickey coming on in the 75th after the Palacios goal.


2023 International Preseason Friendly
OL Reign 3-1 Club América

Date/Time: Saturday, February 25, 2023, 7:30 p.m. PT
Location: Starfire Stadium, Tukwila, Washington
Weather: 38, light wind

RGN: King (Latsko) – 11’, Weinert – 90’
AME: Own goal – 45+1’, Palacios – 74’

Referee: Karen Callado
Assistant Referee 1: Kate Wasiak
Assistant Referee 2: Baboucarr Jallow
4th Official: Kelsey Harms


Photography by Lee Pake and Vanya Tucherov