Reign FC won its third straight preseason friendly and first against another NWSL club Wednesday, beating the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 at Merlo Field in Portland, Ore. Despite giving up an early goal, the Reign equalized in the first half and won thanks to a wonder strike from right back Theresa Nielsen.
“I’m very pleased with the determination we showed today,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “We put ourselves in the hole early with a mistake, but the team didn’t stop fighting and we battled back. This is a great building block, especially as our first friendly against another team from the league.”
The Red Stars capitalized on an early miscue by the Reign. Five minutes in Red Stars forward Sam Kerr jumped on a wayward back pass from Megan Oyster to keeper Michelle Betos. Kerr found former Reign player Katie Johnson in front of an open goal for the easy conversion.
The Reign answered back in the 38th minute. Non-roster invitee Bethany Balcer found Beverly Yanez with a pass from the left touch line and Yanez teed up a first-touch shot for Morgan Andrews that rocketed past Chicago keeper Emily Boyd for the equalizer.
In the 65th minute, Nielsen swung in a cross from the right side toward substitute Jorian Baucom, but the ball failed to reach her. A partially cleared ball bounced back toward Nielsen, who volleyed the ball off the outside of her right foot and curled into the crossbar before it dove into the goal.
“That’s Theresa’s favorite shot,” Andrews said. “She’s always trying that one out on the training ground.”
The Red Stars threw numbers forward as the match continued, with Kerr trying to stretch the Reign’s back line. She was tightly marked by Oyster, however, who limited her to one shot on target.
“She’s slippery,” Oyster said of the Australian striker. “You take your eyes off her for one second and she’s gone. I was remembering past experiences of how she plays and going over film in my mind today. Unfortunately, in the first half I had a slip up, but I’ll take that and learn from it. I think I already improved from that for the second half. I think I was really aware and on to her. Every time she moved I was ready to go to take the ball away.”
The Reign wrap up the 2019 Thorns Spring Invitational Saturday, March 30 with a match against the Portland Thorns at 7:30 p.m. PT at Merlo Field. The club will play its final preseason friendly against the University of Washington Friday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. PT at Husky Soccer Stadium in Seattle.
Match: Reign FC vs. Chicago Red Stars
Date: March 27, 2019
Venue: Merlo Field, Portland, Ore.
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. PT
Weather: 54 degrees, 50% humidity – overcast and rainy
Goals by half 1 2 Total
RFC 1 1 2
CHI 1 0 1
CHI – 5’ Johnson (Kerr)
RFC – 38’ Andrews (Yanez)
RFC – 64’ Nielsen
CHI – YC 90+1’ Sharples
RFC – YC 90+3’ Baucom
Lineups & Stats
RFC: GK Michelle Betos, D Stephanie Catley (70’ Christen Westphal), D Celia Jimenez Delgado (46’ Lauren Barnes), D Megan Oyster, D Theresa Nielsen, M Rumi Utsugi (70’ Morgan Proffitt), M Morgan Andrews (70’ Elise Kellond-Knight), M Beverly Yanez (70’ Sakura Yoshida), F Bethany Balcer (46’ Jaycie Johnson), F Jodie Taylor (46’ Jorian Baucom), F Jasmyne Spencer
Substitutes Not Used: GK Lydia Williams, GK Scout Watson, D Kristen McNabb, F Shea Groom, F Darian Jenkins
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
Shots on goal: 4
Corner kicks: 4
CHI: GK Emily Boyd, D Arin Wright (46’ Kayla Sharples), D Katie Naughton, D Sarah Gorden, D Hannah Davidson (77’ Nagasato), M Nikki Stanton, M Alyssa Mautz (46’ Michele Vasconcelos), M Brooke Elby (46’ Zoey Goralski (77’ Maria Sanchez)), M Danielle Colaprico (46’ Erin Yenney), F Sam Kerr, F Katie Johnson
Substitutes Not Used: GK Alison Jahansouz, GK Megan Hinz, D Christina Murillo, D Chelsea Surpis, M Morgan Brian, M Kelly Fitzgerald, M Jill Vetere, F Jenna Szczesny, F Chandra Eigenberger
Head Coach: Rory Dames
Shots on goal: 4
Corner kicks: 3