The Seattle Reign (3-3-2, W-L-T) will look to make it two wins in a row when they travel to Piscataway, NJ to take on Sky Blue FC (2-3-3) at Yurcak Field. This will be the second meeting of the season between the two club. Sky Blue defeated the Reign 2-1 on the opening weekend of the 2016 NWSL season.
Last time out
Sky Blue was able to end the Reign’s two-year unbeaten run at Memorial Stadium. Sky Blue got on the scoreboard first in the 15th minute when Tasha Kai put the visitors in front. The ball was sent in across the mouth of the goal by Kelly O’Hara and Kai was able to head it home for an early lead. Sky Blue nearly doubled the lead in the 35th minute after Merritt Mathias was whistled for a foul in the penalty box. Sarah Killion stepped up to take the penalty, but Reign goalkeeper Hope Solo was able to make the save. Solo guessed correctly and moved to her right to keep the ball out of the net.
The Reign came out strong to begin the second half and their persistence paid off in the 52nd minute after Mathias was able to level the score at 1-1. Kim Little played a lovely through ball to Jess Fishlock into the Sky Blue penalty box. Fishlock was able to chest the ball down and control it but has no clear shot on target. She sent the ball to the back post where Mathias was waiting. Mathias was able to beat the defender to the ball and headed in the game-tying goal.
The tie wouldn’t last long though as Sky Blue was able to retake the lead in the 67th minute. Taylor Lytle was able to race to the end line and sent the ball back across the mouth of the goal. Kelly Conhenny was waiting for the ball at the back post, completely unmarked. Conhenny made no mistake and put the ball into the back of the net to put the visitor back in front.
The final 20 minutes saw the Reign trying to level the score, but Sky Blue was able to play excellent defense and head back to New Jersey with the win.
Kim Little on verge of history
Little enters this game against Sky Blue with 29 all-time goals in NWSL play. With one more goal, she will become the first player in NWSL history to reach the 30 goal mark. The player with the second most all-time goals is Western New York Flash forward Jessica McDonald. Little, who has not scored in two games, has three goals this year and will be looking to lead her team to a win.
This will be the tenth all-time meeting between these two clubs. Neither team has an advantage over the other as both teams own three wins and three draws to go with three losses. Seattle has scored 11 goals to Sky Blue’s ten in those previous nine meetings. This will be the fifth meeting at Yurcak Field and the Reign have a record of 2-1-1 in New Jersey. Seattle holds the edge in goals with six goals in New Jersey while Sky Blue has only scored four goals at home against the Reign.
Sky Blue looking to get back on track
Sky Blue is looking for their first win in over a month. Their last win came on Friday, May 13th. In that game, they defeated the Boston Breakers 1-0. Since then, they have lost 5-2 to the Flash and has two 1-1 draws against the Chicago Red Stars and FC Kansas City.
Seattle trying to get back on track
The 2016 season has been a weird one for the Reign. They have been up and down all year long and have not been able to keep things consistent. This will be Seattle’s fourth road game of the season. They are currently 1-1-1 on the road. Seattle will want to build momentum as it is almost the middle of the season and they want to do everything in their power to find themselves back at the top of the table. Seattle will also be looking for their third straight clean sheet.
Expect a defensive showdown in New Jersey on Sunday. When these two clubs play each other, they only average 2.3 goals scored per game between the two. Expect Seattle to control the midfield and look for Mathias and Beverly Yanez up top. Sky Blue will look to use the same formula that helped them defeat Seattle in the opening weekend. Seattle will need to make sure that O’Hara is not able to get behind the defense and pump in crosses to Tasha Kai. If Seattle’s backline can control Kai and the rest of Sky Blue’s forwards, Seattle should be able to leave New Jersey with three points.