Reign FC (8-6-7, 31 points) will host Utah Royals FC (9-8-4, 31 points) in a match that will play a major role in either team’s hopes to make the postseason. Utah currently sits in the fourth and final playoff spot, just in front of Reign FC.
“This was already going to be a huge match for us before we had to push it back,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “The way results went for both of these clubs last weekend, this game is now even more important for us.”
Last Match: 0-1 L vs. Sky Blue FC
Reign FC outshot the visitors 23-16 and held the ball for 57.8 percent of the match, but lost 1-0 to Sky Blue FC on the back of a 77th minute goal from Carli Lloyd.
Megan Rapinoe started and played the full 90 minutes for Reign FC, making 10 key passes and taking nine corners.
“The product wasn’t good enough,” Andonovski said of his team’s offense. “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.”
Rapinoe Named World’s Best Player for 2019
Rapinoe added another trophy to her cabinet on September 23 when she was named the Best FIFA Women’s Player of 2019 at a ceremony in Milan, Italy. Rapinoe, who helped the U.S. Women’s National Team smash multiple records en route to winning a fourth Women’s World Cup beat finalists Alex Morgan and Lucy Bronze to earn the honor.
Rapinoe was also honored as part of the FIFA FIFPro Women’s World11, a best eleven selected by women’s players from around the world.
Balcer Displaying Rookie of the Year Chops
Rookie forward Bethany Balcer is having a first year that is making a case for the NWSL Rookie of the Year award. The forward is the only Reign FC player to appear in all 21 matches so far and leads the team in scoring with four goals and two assists.
Reign FC centerback and captain Lauren Barnes says that Balcer, who signed with the team after being invited to training camp as an undrafted trialist, has been a joy to watch this year.
“To be fair, the story speaks for it itself,” Barnes said. “I remember her coming in our first couple preseason meetings, going over ‘what’s your name? Where are you from?’ Then and there, she was so quiet, so modest. Then we got out on the pitch and I saw her play. I was thinking ‘oh my goodness.’ She’s been so good for us. She’s grown a lot, but to be honest, I think she’s always had it in her and I still don’t think she knows how good she is yet. That’s awesome in its own way. She’s been great for us. She’s solid, she’s consistent, she’s raw, she’s fun. She loves the game so much and wants to do so much for this team. That’s the beauty of it. She’s a great player, but the other things she brings to this team have been amazing. I can’t think of a better candidate for Rookie of the Year, considering her story, where she came from, and how effective she’s been for us.”
Utah managed the first win in club history over Reign FC on August 11, winning 3-1 at Cheney Stadium.
The Royals are led offensively by Amy Rodriguez’ eight goals, while Christen Press has added six goals and two assists in 10 appearances for the club. Keeper Nicole Barnhart has kept a league-best 10 clean sheets for Utah this season.
“Utah are a tough team to break down, defensively,” Andonovski said. “We’ll have to be very thoughtful in how we attack their back line and our defense will need to have a big night to stop their attacking talent.”
Six players are unavailable for selection in Wednesday’s contest:
Taylor Smith (SEI - R Knee)
Jasmyne Spencer (SEI - L Knee)
Michelle Betos (SEI - R Achilles)
Jaycie Johnson (SEI - R Knee)
Scout Watson (SEI - Concussion)
Jessica Fishlock (SEI - L Knee)
Additionally, two players are listed as questionable:
Bethany Balcer (R groin)
Megan Oyster (L knee)
How to Watch
Tickets for the match are available online, or by calling the Reign FC ticket office at (855) REIGN-FC.