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

About Jeffrey Lageson

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