Too often, strikers are evaluated by gross production, rather than their overall contributions to a club. For Reign FC’s Jodie Taylor, a quantity over quality assessment would dramatically misconstrue the forward’s importance in 2019.
No contribution was more important—or dramatic—than Taylor’s game-winner in the 86th minute against the Utah Royals on September 25.
“It was a great header by Darian (Jenkins),” Taylor said of the goal. “It was nice to find myself in front of goal with some space on the ball for once. The last couple games, it’s been about the system for me, creating chances for other players, which is fine, but as a goal scorer, as a center-forward, it’s always nice to find the goal. It was nice to get a chance on goal to score.”
In recent matches, changes in tactics have limited Taylor’s ability to run on to through balls in space, giving her fewer opportunities to get on the score sheet.
Some might look at Taylor’s nine goals and one assist from 2018 and see 2019 as a down year, but the striker has been tremendously effective for Reign FC, despite the reduced overall production.
With a goal and an assist on Wednesday, Taylor quietly jumped into the league’s No. 16 spot on the combined goals and assists list, with three goals and a team-high three assists this season. More importantly, her tallies have come at critical moments; goals and assists by Taylor have been the deciding factor in matches that resulted in nine points for Reign FC this year.
The striker also knows how to remain effective late in games. Her two game-winners and a vital assist in a 2-2 draw against the Washington Spirit all came in the final 15 minutes of play.
“As the game goes on, everyone tires,” Taylor said. “It’s about being properly fueled for the game, making sure you have enough energy on board. It’s about staying focused, knowing that there are mistakes by both sides. It’s nice to be able to capitalize on it.”
After the club had stumbled in recent outings, Taylor was happy that the midweek fixture offered the club a chance to finish the chances it had created.
“I’m just happy that we’re creating goal scoring opportunities and actually putting them away. I think the last couple games we were in good position, but the final pass or the final run hasn’t quite been there. That’s been the focus.”
In a playoff race that could be decided by the slimmest of margins, Taylor’s offensive production could well mean the difference between whether or not the club makes the postseason.
Still, the forward doesn’t want Wednesday’s performance to be her final addition to the club’s ledger.
“Coming into the Utah game, we knew it was a six-pointer, essentially,” Taylor said. “To get three points has set us up well for the last two games. It was disappointing to lose against Sky Blue, but Wednesday set us up now. We’ve still got a lot to play for. We’ve still got two huge games coming up. We need to keep playing well, keep winning and get that playoff spot.”