Reign FC (6-3-5, 23 points) will host rivals Portland Thorns FC (7-2-6, 27 points) on Wednesday, August 7 at 7:00 p.m. PT. Reign FC won the two clubs’ first meeting of the season back on July 5 at Providence Park.
“You sometimes have a concern about energy when you have to play in the middle of the week,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “Thankfully, we’ve got a great rivalry match that our players always get fired up for, so I know we’ll be ready for the challenge.”
Last Match: 1-0 W at Houston Dash
Reign FC got back on the front foot August 2, winning 1-0 on the road against the Houston Dash despite being outshot 19-8. Playing as a midfielder, Rosie White scored in her first start for the club to help it take three points on the road.
The club kept things tight at the back, blocking six shots and forcing the Dash to take 11 shots from beyond the penalty area.
“Any time you can get points away from home is a big success,” Andonovski said. “Getting points out of Houston is huge. It was very important for us to get back on track. Losing that game (against Chicago) I think hurt us more mentally than anything else. Getting back and winning this game allows us to mentally solidify ourselves for two of the toughest opponents in the league in Portland and Utah.”
A Long-Standing Rivalry
Reign FC midfielder Allie Long knows the rivalry between the club and the Portland Thorns as well as any player in the league. In Long’s case, though, she knows both sides of it. Having played for the Thorns from 2013 to 2017.
Long says her game thrives on the energy of big rivalries.
“I love a good rivalry,” Long said. “I love the hype around it. It brings out the best in me. I look forward to these games. I respect every single person in the stadium in Portland. When I went back last year they gave me a standing ovation. Now that I’m on the other side, I don’t know if they’ll always love me, but that’s fine. I love that aspect of a rivalry. I love someone that talks smack and backs it up. That’s what makes sports great. I’m all about it and I love being on either side of it. The fact that I’m with Reign FC, I think this is the best player-for-player club I’ve been on with the best coach I’ve had. I feel so lucky. I’m right where I need to be in this time and this moment to reach all the goals that I have for myself and the club.”
Dominant Reign Defense Meets Prolific Portland Attack
Reign FC’s back line may have its hands full against the Thorns Wednesday night. Portland has scored a league-high 31 through 15 matches and has only been shut out in two games. Reign FC was responsible for one of them, as well as handing Portland its last loss on July 5.
Reign FC’s defense has been strong in 2019. Their 15 goals allowed ties for the second-fewest in the league and the club has kept five clean sheets, also the second best record in the NWSL.
“We know Portland has a strong attack, but we defend very well,” Andonovski said. “We always want to keep a clean sheet, but I’m more focused on making sure we defend soundly and keep track of our assignments. We’ll control what we can and see what the match brings.”
Reign FC has a record of success when playing on Wednesday night. The club is 13-4-4 all-time in matches played on Wednesday, including a 7-0-2 record at home.
“There’s definitely a mindset you have to get into to be successful when you’re playing so many matches in a week,” Andonovski said. “We’ll have some tough calls to make in terms of managing personnel, but I know that anyone on this team that I turn to and say ‘you’re starting,’ they’re going to be willing to battle and fight for the club.”
10 players are unavailable for Reign FC in Wednesday’s contest:
Taylor Smith (SEI – R knee)
Jasmyne Spencer (SEI – L knee)
Michelle Betos (SEI – R achilles)
Jacyie Johnson (SEI – R knee)
Scout Watson (SEI – concussion)
Jess Fishlock (SEI – L knee)
Lydia Williams (45D – L ankle)
Megan Rapinoe (L achilles)
Steph Cox (R calf)
Rumi Utsugi (L calf)
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