Reign FC (9-6-7, 34 points) will play its final home match of the regular season against rivals Portland Thorns FC (11-5-6, 39 points) on Sunday, September 29 at 11:00 a.m. PT in a match that will be televised on ESPN2. Reign FC is 2-0-0 against Portland this season and can clinch a playoff spot with a win.
“The Portland game is a typical rivalry,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “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.”
Last Match: 2-1 W vs. Utah Royals FC
Reign FC took care of business at home against Utah Royals FC on Wednesday, September 25, winning 2-1 to claim three massive points in the race for the postseason.
Rookie forward Bethany Balcer extended her team scoring lead, grabbing her fifth goal of the season to open the scoring in the 40th minute. After assisting on Balcer’s goal, forward Jodie Taylor volleyed in the game-winner in the 86th minute of a hard-fought contest.
“It was a battle, wasn’t it?” Taylor said. “We knew going into it that it was going to be a scrappy game. I thought it was quite end-to-end and tight. I’m just happy that we won.”
Fan Appreciation Match
As the final home game of the season, the game against Portland will serve as Reign FC’s Fan Appreciation Match. The first 4,000 attendees through the gate will receive a team poster presented by Zulily.
Playoffs Within Reach for Reign FC
Reign FC will guarantee itself a spot in the postseason with a win in either of its final two matches. The club owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against Utah. The Washington Spirit’s 0-0 draw at Houston on Wednesday, meanwhile, means that the Spirit can only attain 36 points in their final three matches, while a Reign FC win would lock the final playoff spot up with 37 points.
The club can also clinch a playoff spot before play even begins on Sunday morning. Should Washington and Utah lose to North Carolina and Chicago on Saturday, respectively, Reign FC’s current 34 points would be enough to clinch a playoff spot, thanks to the tiebreaker against the Royals.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Reign FC currently has an 86 percent chance of finishing in fourth place, an eight percent chance of finishing third and a six percent chance of finishing in fifth place.
Big Stage for a Rivalry Match
Reign FC has the opportunity to sweep Portland in the 2019 regular season if it wins on Sunday. Each club has swept the other once before, with Portland winning all four meetings between the clubs in 2013 and Reign FC winning both matches in 2015 en route to winning the NWSL Shield.
Centerback and captain Lauren Barnes says that a rivalry match with Portland is the perfect situation for the club as it seeks to lock up a playoff spot.
“We’re in this position, but to be fair, there’s no better game to be in this position with,” 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.”
Seven players are unavailable for selection in Sunday’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)
Jess Fishlock (SEI - L knee)
Megan Oyster (L – Knee)
Additionally, one player is listed as questionable:
Bethany Balcer ( R – Groin)
How to Watch
A limited number of tickets are available online, or by calling the Reign FC ticket office at (855) REIGN-FC.
Fans inside the U.S. can watch the match live on ESPN2, while fans outside of the U.S. can watch the match live on their local ESPN channel or stream.