Reign FC played the Portland Thorns to a 0-0 draw at Merlo Field in Portland, Ore. on Saturday night, finishing as the top team at the 2019 Thorns Spring Invitational with a record of 2-0-1. The Reign outshot the Thorns 12-9 in a physical contest that saw 22 total fouls.
“There is a friendly game and then there is a Thorns-Reign friendly,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “This was the latter. I think the teams played aggressively and intensely. Both teams got better from this game. That’s what this is all about. I’m glad we participated in this tournament and am excited to return next year as well.”
The Reign tested Portland keeper Britt Eckerstrom seven times over the course of the match, but were unable to best the keeper. Reign keeper Michelle Betos, who replaced Lydia Williams at halftime needed only one save to help the Reign keep its second clean sheet of the preseason.
For Reign FC’s new faces, the match served as an up close and personal introduction to the rivalry between the two clubs.
“It was a really intense game,” said defender Celia Jimenez Delgado. “Even though Vlatko was warning about how physical this game would be, it was even more physical than I expected. It was interesting because even the forwards were going hard into tackles. I think it was a good test as the second to last game of the preseason to get ready for the start of the season.”
Jimenez Delgado stayed busy for the Reign, playing as a centerback, left back and forward over the span of the 90 minutes. Andonovski was pleased with the versatility of the Spanish international.
“It was amazing how she switched from one position to another and adjusted so quickly,” Andonovski said. “It’s not easy to switch from centerback to forward to outside back. The only thing we didn’t do tonight was throw her in goal, but she’s a true warrior. If we needed, she’d put on the gloves and do her best.”
The Thorns nearly got on the board in the 60th minute, when Christine Sinclair lifted an early cross to the head of Catlin Foord. As Foord’s header drifted for the upper corner of the net, however, Betos leapt backwards and snatched it out of the air to deny the hosts.
Jasmyne Spencer created the Reign’s best chance of the match, slicing a shot at the near post from a wide angle in the 82nd minute before it was caught by Eckerstrom.
“I’m very happy with the performance but I still think we can do better,” Andonovski said. “The coach in me always tells me ‘there is something more.’ I can see some things we can improve on and I’ll keep looking for others to hopefully help the team get better.”
Reign FC will play its final preseason friendly against the University of Washington at Husky Soccer Stadium on Friday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. PT in Seattle.