A look back – OL Reign in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup

The 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup in the the books.

The group phase for the OL Reign saw players return from injury, new players make debuts, and a core of the 2019 side provide the core of the line up.

The statistics from the group phase highlight just how some questions were answered, but many more were still pending entering the quarterfinals. Three clean sheets showcased a bend but not break defense with two goalkeepers splitting time. The win, loss, and two draws gave the team five points and third in the table. Third place would be a playoff spot in a full season.

Entering the fourth match, the side was the top possession team, but only scored a single goal in stoppage time of match three. Match four then saw the team mostly sit back and absorb against a Portland side that had to win to avoid finishing winless and the eighth seed.

The quarterfinal finally saw Jessica Fishlock start, going almost 70 minutes until being replaced by Bethany Balcer. A goalless draw would lead to a negative result in penalties as two Reign shots missed the mark and Chicago converted all.

Five matches is a decent sample size to know that OL Reign is definitely on a good track in regards to their defense, possession, and depth. It is tough to gauge the specific value of a missing Megan Rapinoe, but the club only managed a stoppage time goal in their third match. Scoring was a problem.

Four clean sheets are great as it is tough to lose when the other team never seems to score either. If not for the penalty result that would make the Reign a one win, one loss, three draw side, and minus one on goal difference.

The stats though and the results are probably not as important big picture. The Reign developed as the tourney progressed. The new coach and system seemed suited to the personnel they have. The young players are good. The veterans bring class and stability. They placed third in the group phase in a short sample, but it would not be a stretch to see that play out over 24 matches in a full season.

Moving forward, it could be months or 2021 before the club plays another competitive match. The 2020 season was over so quickly.

About Jeffrey Lageson

Father, Brother, Son, Goalkeeper, Writer, Dancer, Minion, [E] Enforcer, Marathoner, Rocker, Black Belt, Coug, ECS, Keeper Studios, Teacher, Shotgun Trapper ... WellDressedGandalf