Reign FC won its second preseason friendly on Sunday, taking down the U.S. Women’s National Team U23s 2-1 at Merlo Field in Portland, Ore. The Reign dominated the match, but struggled to finish their chances in front of a spirited defense.
“I thought that we played very well,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “We looked better than I was expecting and I think that we are progressing well in the preseason. I think this game was a good indicator for that.”
Darian Jenkins scored the opening goal after a quick series of passes switched the play to the right side of the field in the 49th minute. Beverly Yanez played Jenkins through and the forward took one touch before burying a shot past U23 keeper Laurel Ivory.
With the goal, Jenkins has scored twice in two preseason appearances, as well as having forced an own goal in the club’s friendly against UCLA March 16.
“It feels good,” Jenkins said of her recent streak. “I think there’s still more opportunities to score that we need to finish, but we’re definitely pulling it together.”
The U23s responded five minutes later, when Catarina Macario found Ashley Sanchez on the left side of the penalty area. Sanchez fired a low shot just past the fingertips of the Reign’s Lydia Williams to pull the match level.
Midfielder Allie Long nodded in the go-ahead goal in the 70th minute. After drawing a foul in the right alley, Megan Rapinoe swung in a free kick that Long finished into the right side-netting for the game-winning goal.
“As we were lining up for the kick, I could see that no one was going to pick me up,” Long said. “Megan gave me a great ball and I had plenty of space to pick my spot.”
Reign FC hounded the U23s all over the pitch, forcing numerous turnovers while outshooting the youngsters 17-3 and enjoying a 13-0 advantage on corner kicks.
“I thought the press was incredible,” Andonovski said. “We created lots of turnovers, and we also created lots of opportunities. We probably had 10 clear chances to score a goal. Finishing was our biggest problem today, but when we have that with everything else, I‘m sure that we’ll be able to score more goals when we need them.”
The Reign continue the 2019 Thorns Spring Invitational Wednesday, March 27 with a friendly against the Chicago Red Stars at 1:30 p.m. The team finishes the week in Portland with a game with the Thorns Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m.