Reign Head to Houston Hoping to Shake Off Rough Start

By: Justin McMullen
Posted: July 2, 2021

(Image courtesy of OL Reign twitter)

OL Reign, whose rough start to the season continued last weekend with a Saturday, June 26 shutout loss to NJ/NY Gotham FC, will look to right the ship Friday against the Houston Dash. 

The Reign currently sit in ninth place in the league table heading into the Houston clash with two wins, a draw and four losses after the 3-0 decision at home amid a punishing heat wave to Gotham. The match played out at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium in front of 3,007 fans who braved the 97 degree weather for the team’s Pride Night. 

OL Reign had their share of chances, particularly during a busy first 30 minutes which saw the Reign let off six shots, none of which found the target. Ifeoma Onumonu scored for Gotham off an assist by Midge Purce in the 38th minute, and the Reign were never able to open their account. Gotham emphasized the result with Purce and substitute Domi Richardson netting goals in the 60th and 85th minutes, respectively. 

“I would say the biggest takeaways would probably be that we need to put our chances away when we have the opportunity,” said left back Madison Hammond after the match.  “I think that, despite our defensive lapses, we had opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net. Regardless, as a defender you have to take responsibility for the mistakes that were made today.” 

The Reign outshot Gotham 21-17, with 6 Reign shots finding the target compared to Gotham’s seven. Olympique Lyonnais loanee Eugénie Le Sommer made her second appearance with OL Reign and started alongside Jess Fishlock and Megan Rapinoe in midfield. Angelina and Betheny Balcer joined Le Sommer in midfield as second half substitutes and also put in solid shifts, but The Bold were held to a clean sheet by Gotham’s defense for the second time this season. 

Le Sommer praised her teammates’ performances including the substitutes and echoed that the team had scoring opportunities, saying the team needs to continue to build on the positive takeaways despite the lopsided scoreline. 

“We need to keep going and move forward to see the next game,” said Le Sommer. “We need to learn [from] today, because it’s a big loss for us. I have hope for the future, so [I]  just want to be positive.” 

The Reign now travel to Houston with just one win over the past five games. Though coach Farid Benstiti and Reign CEO Bill Predmore have added considerable depth to the roster, they will have to make do without US internationals Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle, Canadian international midfielder Quinn and Japan’s Nicole Momiki as the players join their respective national teams for the Olympic period. The Dash, one season removed from a Challenge Cup victory, are currently seventh in the table with 10 points. They will be without star forward Kristie Mewis, who is back on Vlatko Andonovski’s Olympic roster after falling out of the US national team system for five years before Andonovski took the job. Rapinoe, Lavelle and Mewis will instead take the pitch for a send-off series with Mexico before heading to Tokyo. 

OL Reign and the Houston Dash square off Friday, July 2 at 8:30pm. The match will be broadcast on Paramount+.

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