Systemic failures require systemic solutions.
OL Reign 3
Orlando Pride 0
NWSL Regular Season
September 26, 2021
Cheney Stadium – Tacoma, WA
Orlando Pride made the journey cross country to face OL Reign in Sunday NWSL action. With the two teams coming out of the international break and moving into the final month of the season with playoff position, bye weeks, and home games on the line. The weekly table shuffle is now a case of positioning.
The host Reign got off to a quick start, Sofia Huerta’s 3rd minute cross was finished by Bethany Balcer. For Balcer, it was her league leading ninth goal of the campaign. With Megan Rapinoe out for the match, the Reign still are loaded with offense. Huerta’s midseason move to outside back was as much about the depth of the offense as a need in defense, as she has utilized the opportunity to become a consistent overlapping threat.
The first half pace of play remained mostly the hosts on their front foot. A brace by Eugenie Le Sommer in the 28th and 32nd minute made it suddenly three nil. Le Sommer’s first was a long range shot catching Orlando keeper Ashlyn Harris enough off her line when the defense had turned the ball over just outside the box. Le Sommer’s quick decision paid off.
Rose Lavelle and Dzsenifer Marozsan each nearly extended the Reign lead late in the half, and the crossbar denied Le Sommer of her first half hat trick.
Orlando came into the match in solid form. The first half was not without moments and chances, but they were isolated and were followed up with Reign counters that challenged the Pride defense.
Orlando came out of the interval and pressed, getting a quick shot on goal by Alex Morgan. However, breaking down the Reign defense proved to be a difficult task. The central defensive partnership of Lauren Barnes and Alana Cook continues to develop, with the firepower Orlando has up front that was essential. Even though the Pride got some chances as the half progressed, it was not until the 67th minute that they got their first corner.
Both coaches have depth in the attack, and Marta came on in the 2nd half for Orlando with the Reign sending on Angelina and Tziarra King in a match she did not have Megan Rapinoe available for.
The three nil first half scoreline would hold up, and that was how the match would finish.
The three points push the OL Reign closer to not just a playoff spot or a home game, but a bye week. The standings do remain close and a derby rematch with Portland is coming up Saturday.
Orlando remains solidly in the playoff picture, sitting fifth as of the end of the match, but that would mean a road trip in the wild card quarterfinal round.
2021 NWSL Regular Season
OL Reign (11-7-2, 35 points) 3-0 Orlando Pride (7-6-7, 28 points)
Date/Time: Sunday, September 26, 2021, 4:00 p.m. PT
Location: Cheney Stadium, Tacoma, Washington
Weather: 63, Scattered Showers
RGN: Balcer – 3’, Le Sommer – 28’, 32’
ORL: Taylor (Caution – 30’), Turner (Caution – 62’), Riley (Caution – 73’)
RGN: GK Bouhaddi, D McNabb, D Cook, D Barnes ©, D Huerta, M Quinn, M Fishlock (Weatherholt 87’), M Lavelle (Cruz 88’), F Le Sommer (King 76’), F Marozsán (Angelina 71’), F Balcer (Pruitt 88’)
Unused substitutes: GK Tullis-Joyce, D Hiatt, D Cox, D Celia
Total Shots: 21 (Le Sommer – 6)
Shots on Goal: 8 (Balcer, Le Sommer – 2)
Fouls: 8 (Le Sommer – 3)
Offsides: 3 (Balcer – 2)
Corner Kicks: 5
Saves: 3 (Bouhaddi – 3)
ORL: GK Harris, D Turner, D Krieger, D Riley (Tymrak 79’), M Petersen, M Jonsdottir, M Dougherty Howard (Viggiano 46’), M Kornieck (Marta 58’), M Taylor (McClernon 46’), F Leroux, F Morgan
Unused substitutes: GK Wilson, M Roberts, D Pressley, F Kim, D Strom
Total Shots: 11 (Leroux, Morgan – 4)
Shots on Goal: 3 (Morgan – 2)
Fouls: 11 (Morgan – 3)
Offsides: 1 (Morgan – 1)
Corner Kicks: 2
Saves: 5 (Harris – 5)
Referee: Malik Badawi
Assistant Referees: Katarzyna Wasiak, Melissa Beck
OL Reign 2
Portland Thorns FC 1
NWSL Regular Season
Lumen Field – Seattle, WA
OL Reign hosted Cascadia neighbor Portland Thorns FC at Seattle’s Lumen Field on Sunday as part of a derby double header with the MLS Clubs. The visiting Thorns entered the match top of the table, while the surging Reign have recently played themselves into the playoff part of the standings.
The early going was very much the visitors on their front foot. The Thorns created a number of dangerous challenges, with Christine Sinclair getting a 6th minute shot that went just over the bar. Portland was not able to get through early, something both clubs have been good at.
In the 16th minute, Megan Rapinoe got a clear look on goal and drove a low right footed shot into the goal, giving the home side a lead after they weathered the initial pressure.
Much of the first half continued at a brisk pace, as both full strength sides traded attacks. Portland moved to slow the pace as the interval approached.
A handball call against the Thorns was converted at the spot by Rapinoe, giving her a brace in back to back matches and the home side a two goal lead.
It looked like that lead would hold going into the interval, but Angela Salem got a right footed long range volley through traffic and into the goal during stoppage time. Suddenly, it was 2-1 going into the half.
With both sides at basically full strength, the second half was a tense and physical affair.
Now having played several matches with her new club, Rose Lavelle asserted herself much more into the attack, taking on Thorns defenders and making several dangerous runs.
The score line remained at 2-1 moving into the final fifteen minutes. Not for lack of attacking. Rapinoe nearly had her hat trick with a header in the 60th. Morgan Weaver broke through in the 80th, but Sarah Bouhaddi came up with the save.
The attendance figure of 27,278 is an NWSL record. Said Rapinoe, “We deserve to play in a bigger stadium. We deserve to play in this stadium.”
RGN: Rapinoe – 16’, 40’
POR: Salem – 45+4’
RGN: Huerta (Caution – 2’), McNabb (Caution – 45+4’), Angelina (Caution – 87’)
POR: Kuikkua (Caution – 91’)
RGN: GK Bouhaddi, D McNabb, D Cook, D Barnes ©, D Huerta, M Quinn, M Fishlock, M Lavelle, F Le Sommer (Cox 92’), F Marozsán (Angelina 87’), F Rapinoe (Balcer 83’)
Unused substitutes: GK Tullis-Joyce, D Brooks, M Weatherholt, D Hammond, M Cruz, D Celia
Total Shots: 15 (Rapinoe – 7)
Shots on Goal: 3 (Rapinoe – 2)
Fouls: 9 (Lavelle – 4)
Corner Kicks: 4
Saves: 5 (Bouhaddi – 5)
POR: GK Bixby, D Westphal (Pogarch 63’), D Sauerbrunn, D Menges (Hubly 46’), D Kuikka, M Salem, M Horan, M Rodriguez (Weaver 46’), F Smith, F Sinclair ©, F Dunn
Unused substitutes: M Ryan, M Moultrie, F Everett, D Nally, D Betford, GK Hogan
Total Shots: 19 (Smith – 6)
Shots on Goal: 6 (Smith – 2)
Fouls: 10 (Kuikka – 3)
Offsides: 4 (Dunn – 2)
Corner Kicks: 6
Saves: 2 (Bixby – 2)
Referee: Jon Freemon
Assistant Referees: Deleana Quan, Walter Heatherly
This is Jeff of the GoalieGuys. 45 years ago my family attended the Sounders v Timbers 1976 NASL opener at this site in the former building. I was 8. Geoff Hurst scored the only goal in extra time.
This coming Sunday is a double header of the modern Sounders and Timbers with the NWSL OL Reign and Portland Thorns making it a Cascadia doubleheader.
OL Reign reset begins as Laura Harvey retakes the reins.
Laura Harvey took Seattle Reign FC to two NWSL Shields and Two NWSL Championship matches in her first run with what is now OL Reign.
She coached the startup Reign club for five seasons, leading it from a sluggish start to a club that challenged for trophies. At the end of the 2017 season, she left to pursue other options. Her shock departure from the club, still then in Seattle and with a loaded roster of talent, was a move that led her to another startup in Utah and international coaching opportunity. The club had moved on, but much of a veteran core remained in place.
When the Reign coaching position became open recently, Harvey was not immediately commented on as a likely return to the club. Yet, after a couple short weeks under the helm of her former assistant Sam Laity, Harvey takes back a club full of promise, but lacking in points and success on the season.
The Reign have used the word “Bold” in much of their media and promotional materials throughout their existence. In bringing back Harvey, with a core of veterans and international talent and much of a season to play, this could very well end up being the case.
Although in 9th place in the standings as of taking charge after Laity’s final interim match, the actual gap in the standings from 4th to 9th is 6 points. There is a great cluster in the middle of the standings and a few three point results could quickly make up the ground.
Coach Harvey has commented about being a different coach and the journey she has gone on since leaving the club. There is a real chance to right the ship this season should a winning run of even a few matches move the club up the standings. With returning Olympians and the talent on hand, the job is not so much a rebuild as a reset.
Reports are the contract is for 2021 through 2023.
From the team’s press release.
TACOMA, WA (July 2, 2021) – OL Reign today announced that Farid Benstiti has resigned his position as head coach of the club with immediate effect. Assistant coach Sam Laity, who has been with the club since its inaugural season in 2013, will serve as interim head coach, beginning with tonight’s match in Houston against the Dash.
“We are appreciative of Farid’s many contributions to the club over the past 18 months and wish him the best in all his future endeavors,” said OL Reign CEO Bill Predmore. “We have great respect for Farid’s talents and all he brought to the organization, but in our recent conversations there was a collective agreement that new leadership was required to achieve the performances and results needed to satisfy our ambitions.”
Benstiti was hired by OL Reign in January 2020 and led the club through twenty matches across four competitions, including the Challenge Cups in 2020 and 2021, the 2020 Fall Series, and the first seven matches of the 2021 NWSL Regular Season. Benstiti’s record during his tenure was 6 wins, 9 losses and 5 draws, including last Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Gotham FC.
OL Reign 0
NJ/NY Gotham FC 3
NWSL Regular Season – June 26, 2021
Cheney Stadium – Tacoma, WA
(photos by Vanya Tucherov)
OL Reign hosted NJ/NY Gotham FC in Tacoma on Saturday afternoon in scorching temperatures. As in, the hottest day on record in June in the history of the region.
The hosts were relishing the opportunity to run out a starting eleven with OL Lyon loanies Eugenie Le Sommer and Dzsenifer Marozsan having had a few matches in the system and healthy and in form Jessica Fishlock and Megan Rapinoe also in the attack. Although Rose Lavelle and Tziarra King were not in the 18.
Gotham entered the match on the cusp of the top four, but without the services of Carli Lloyd. A stout Gotham defense has served them well in the early part of the season, but a dearth of goals had been an issue.
The early going and much of the first half was OL on their front foot, pushing the Gotham FC defense, but unable to finish off numerous chances. The Gotham midfield, led my Allie Long, proved to be difficult to break down in the middle third, pushing the Reign out wide for their attacks. The Reign responded with continual switching, looking to get Megan Rapinoe down the left flank and Le Sommer down the right. With Marozsan pushing the middle of the line, and Fishlock joining, it only seemed like a matter of time.
However, in the 38th minute, Gotham was rewarded for their patience and steady defense when Ifeoma Onomonu got free and Reign keeper Sarah Bouhaddi was caught out of net. Onomonu got around the defense and slotted a long low drive into the vacant net. Although against the statistical run of play at that point, Gotham’s absorb and counter had paid off near the interval.
The second half began with the Reign needing a goal to bring the match level. Taking the second half kick directly down the flank, a sliding Marozsan. The Gotham defense remained difficult to break down. The Reign moved to more long diagonals, trying to isolate their forwards.
The visitors struck again, grabbing a two nil lead in the 60th as Midge Purce got free with possession in front of the net, calmly finishing and extending the Gotham lead. The Reign then tried a wave of fresh legs to see about getting into the match.
Gotham grabbed a third in the 85th minute when Dom Richardson beat Bouhaddi far post, and the match that seemed so much like the home side would dominate early, was a three nil to the visitors.
Moving forward, the stout defense, difficult to break down, will serve Gotham well. For OL Reign, a line up full of international experience needs to get some goals or points and the standings are going to get away from them for 2021.
OL Reign 0
Washington Spirit 1
May 30, 2021
Welcome back to the PNW Rose Lavelle.
WAS: Rapinoe (OG) – 52nd minute
RGN: Brooks (Caution – 88’)
RGN: GK Bardsley (Dederick 86’), D Hammond, D Brooks, D McNabb, D Barnes ©, M Cruz (Angelina 75’), M Fishlock, M Lavelle (Weatherholt 64’), F Huerta, F King (Pruitt 64’), F Rapinoe (Balcer 75’)
Unused substitutes: D George, D Cox, M White, D Hiatt
Total Shots: 15 (Fishlock – 3, Rapinoe – 3)
Shots on Goal: 6 (6 tied with 1)
Fouls: 11 (Brooks – 3)
Offsides: 4 (4 tied with 1)
Corner Kicks: 5
Saves: 6 (Bardsley – 6)
WAS: GK Bledsoe ©, D Huster, D Sonnett, D Staab, D O’Hara, M Roddar (Bailey 58’), M Jacobs, M Sanchez, F Hatch (Heilferty 67’), F Yokoyama (Rodman 45’), F McKeown
Unused substitutes: M Takarada, D McGrady, M DiBiasi, GK Kerr, F Speckmaier, D Biegalski
Total Shots: 12 (Hatch – 3)
Shots on Goal: 6 (Sanchez – 2)
Fouls: 10 (Sanchez – 3)
Corner Kicks: 4
Saves: 6 (Bledsoe – 6)
Referee: Samantha Martinez
Assistant Referees: Tiffini Turpin, Baboucarr Jallow