Reign FC battled their way to a 1-0 win on the road against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, overcoming injuries and absences to earn their first road win of the season. The club’s fight was boosted by big contributions from regulars and newcomers alike.
At a time when most of the league is dealing with World Cup absences, injuries have further weakened Reign FC. The club had a league-high 17 players unavailable for Sunday’s match. Midfielder Morgan Andrews was named to the starting 11, but was a late injury scratch 10 minutes before kickoff.
“I don’t believe in making excuses, even in very difficult situations,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “Still, you can’t look at how things have gone and say that they have been easy for us. I’m very proud of how all of our players stepped up and responded to the challenge.”
After a choppy opening half-hour, Reign FC forward Ifeoma Onumonu rattled the woodwork in the 32nd minute after a pass from midfielder Jess Fishlock.
Onumonu had a strong match for Reign FC in her second start. The forward completed 24 of her 30 passing attempts and made four key passes en route to earning the NWSL Player of the Week Award.
Proffitt also chipped in on defense, finishing with seven recoveries, three clearances, two interceptions, and one tackle won.
“It’s always important for a player on the bench to be ready to play, whenever we need them,” Andonovski said. “I know Morgan wasn’t in our initial starting 11, but she was ready to go when we needed her.”
The club was also steadied by a veteran back line of Steph Cox, Lauren Barnes, Megan Oyster and Theresa Nielsen. The four defenders combined to stave a Chicago attack—rejuvenated with the midweek acquisition of forward Savannah McCaskill from Sky Blue FC—contributing 27 recoveries, 11 clearances, seven interceptions, three tackles won and two blocks in the shutout.
Keeper Casey Murphy also chipped in three saves to keep her first NWSL clean sheet, including a diving stop to deny McCaskill the upper-left corner in the 41st minute.
The win jumped Reign FC to fourth in the NWSL standings. While the table can change drastically in a single weekend—seven points separate first and seventh place—Andonovski is proud of his club’s resolve during a difficult stretch.
“The players, I can’t ask anything more from them, attitude-wise,” Andonovski said. “We’re away from home, we’re bruised up, but the players have the heart and mentality to fight through anything. That’s what they did against Chicago and I think that’s what they’ll do moving forward.”