Reign FC lost to Sky Blue FC 1-0 at Cheney Stadium on September 21 despite outshooting the visitors 23-16. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski pinned the loss on a lack of execution on the club’s chances.
“Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed with the end result,” Andonovski said. “I thought we played well enough once again to score at least one, but there hasn’t been the quality in the box or our quality in our final ball. It’s something that we’re going to have to get better for this season, but also for the season to come.”
The club sent in 36 crosses and held the ball for 57.8 percent of play, but was frustrated time and again as it tried to create dangerous chances inside the penalty area.
Sky Blue’s back line blocked eight shots and cleared the ball 32 times to stave off Reign FC’s attack. Keeper Kailen Sheridan contributed four saves to keep her third clean sheet of the season.
Reign FC’s closest chance came in the 52nd minute, when a low shot from forward Bethany Balcer was parried by Sheridan right to Bev Yanez. Yanez hit the ball with her knee but was unable to direct it into the empty net, missing wide left.
“The product wasn’t good enough,” Andonovski said. “Even when we crossed the ball, we weren’t good enough or they cleared it, which resulted in I don’t know how many corner kicks. When we created opportunities from the corner kicks, we were a little unlucky. We had a couple good shots. Fair play to Sheridan. I think she did a good job. On the rebounds, we were just missing the technicality. Twice we were right in front of goal and we couldn’t hit the net. If we don’t score those, we’re not going to win the game. I don’t care who we’re playing, if we miss the open nets, we can’t win.”
Megan Rapinoe started and played the full 90 minutes in the match. Rapinoe took 82 touches and completed 28 of her 41 passes, including 10 key passes that sprung promising attacks. The forward only managed one shot, but was a threat on set pieces and sent in nine of Reign FC’s 13 corners on the evening.
Andonovski said that the plan had not called for the forward to play the whole match. Still, he was grateful that Rapinoe, who was named the 2019 Best FIFA Women’s Player on Monday, chose to stay on.
“Pinoe was not ready for 90 minutes,” Andonovski said. “She wasn’t supposed to play 90 minutes, but we’re very thankful for her desire to stay all the way. She wanted to help the team as much as possible; it’s obvious every time she gets on the ball we created something. We were dangerous.”
Still, Reign FC was denied the back of the net and Sky Blue found their goal in the 77th minute thanks to Carli Lloyd.
The result leaves Reign FC at 8-6-7 with three matches to play and a critical contest against the fourth-place Utah Royals FC looming on Wednesday. A win for either side will go a long way toward determining the league’s playoff picture as the regular season enters its final three weeks.
“Last game, the result is disappointing,” Andonovski said. “The players were not and the way we approached the game was not (disappointing), but I don’t want to be the coach saying ‘well, we played well and we created. We were unlucky.’ If that happened in game two or three of the season, I would be very happy with the performance, but at this point, the playoffs are on the line. We’ve got to get points and score goals. Now, we’re going into the Utah game. We have to be a little more precise, more sophisticated in the final third and capitalize on the opportunities that we create.”