Reema Patel

Rivalry with Portland Will Fuel Home Finale, Says Lauren Barnes

Reema Patel
Rivalry with Portland Will Fuel Home Finale, Says Lauren Barnes

Reign FC will close out their home slate against rivals Portland Thorns FC on Sunday, September 29 at 11:00 a.m. With Reign FC still looking to secure a playoff spot, the normally spirited rivalry will take on an even more robust energy.

“We’re in this position, but to be fair, there’s no better game to be in this position with,” Reign FC captain Lauren Barnes said. “It’s always a really hard-fought battle with them. We’re excited to play in front of the fans we have down here in Tacoma. They’ve been so great for us. There are no words for these games. You go out there and you play with your heart. That’s all you can do.”

Reign FC hasn’t finished above Portland in the league table since it last won the NWSL Shield in 2015. Still, the club has seen the better run of success in that span; Reign FC is 8-3-3 in regular season matches against Portland dating back to the 2015 season. The club lost their only meeting in the postseason in the 2018 NWSL semifinal.

Barnes says, however, that considerations of form and history go straight out the window when the two clubs step on the pitch.

“To be fair, you can prepare tactically, technically and do all the stuff you want,” Barnes said. “But when it comes to Portland, you go out there and it comes back to who wants it more. I think we’ve proven that that’s what we want when we come out and play that game. It’s all about heart and the crest on our chests that we fight for.”

Reign FC is 2-0-0 against Portland in 2019, having defeated the Thorns down in Providence Park 1-0 on July 5, before achieving the same result at home on August 7. Each side has only managed to sweep the other once in the regular season, with Portland having won all four meetings between the two clubs in 2013 and Reign FC having returned the favor with a 2-0-0 ledger in 2015. Reign FC outscored Portland 4-0 that year, the only time in the rivalry’s history that a club has gone scoreless over the course of the regular season against the other.

Following a 2-1 win over Utah Wednesday night, a win against Portland would clinch a playoff spot for Reign FC.

Head coach Vlatko Andonovski said he isn’t focused on the standings when Portland comes to town, however.

“I’ve never looked at it,” Andonovski said. “I never saw that the Portland matches are significant in terms of standings. I look at it as a big rivalry that means a lot for us regardless of where we are in the standings. Regardless of where we are in the standings, whether we’re in last place or we’re in first place, it’s going to be a good match.

“The Portland game is a typical rivalry. Regardless of how good you are, regardless of how well you play, it can go either way. I’m just excited. I’m excited to play Portland. Every time that we play them, it’s a good show. I’m looking forward to Sunday.”

Tickets for Sunday’s match against Portland are limited. As part of the league’s broadcast agreement with ESPN, the match will be televised on ESPN2.