The Seattle Reign FC secured a 4-1 victory over Sky Blue FC in the final National Women’s Soccer League match of Week 7. Seattle (4W-1D-1L) gained sole possession of second place in the league standings while Sky Bue FC (0W-1D-4L) remains the only team in the league without a win. The match was hardly competitive, with the Reign earning the lead early and never providing New Jersey an opportunity to recover.
A significant first-half advantage
Seattle opened their second home match of the season on a roll. After generating a pair of opportunities just after kickoff, forward Jodie Taylor scored the opening goal of the match in the fifth minute. Her header concluded a long period of offensive pressure by the Reign and gave Steph Catley her first assist on the season.
While Sky Blue occasionally found themselves in the offensive third, the Reign maintained near constant pressure and the visiting team didn’t have a good shot in the entire first half. After a half hour of pressure, the SBFC defense made another mistake. A searching ball from near midfield was poorly cleared by a Sky Blue defender, and the weak clear found the feet of striker Megan Rapinoe just outside of the 18-yard box. Rapinoe put the ball on her right foot, dribbled toward the top of the box, and casually sent a bending shot into the top-right corner of the net past three Sky Blue defenders and the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. The ease with which Rapinoe hit the difficult shot exemplifies the strength of Seattle’s offense to this point in the season, and they would take a 2-0 lead into halftime after Taylor nearly secured a second goal.
A wide-open second half
Sky Blue came out in the second half with more fire, but as the clock ticked towards the hour mark they hadn't found the back of the net. With a quick counter, Seattle midfielder Naho Kawasumi played the ball out left to Rapinoe. She dribbled the ball into the box and took a beautiful shot from a difficult angle that went past Sheridan and into the right side netting of the goal. Rapinoe would be subbed out after scoring the brace right as the clock hit sixty-six minutes.
Sky Blue found a little life after the goal, and a nice run of midfield passing left the ball at the feet of rookie forward Savannah McCaskill inside the Reign goal box. She played a chipped shot over the head of Seattle goalkeeper Lydia Williams that snuck underneath the crossbar and into the goal. The goal brought the game back to within a pair of goals, and SBFC was energized over the next 15 minutes. Despite the energy shown by the team, they would be unable to break down the Seattle defense or beat Williams again.
As the game dragged on, Sheridan made a terrible mistake that would allow Seattle to put a fourth ball into the net. A shot from range curled toward the goal and Sheridan made a diving attempt, but she missed the ball completely. It bounced off the post and hit the stomach of Reign midfielder Allie Long, who bounced the ball off her body and into the goal from barely a yard out. It was Long's 32nd goal of her career.
The teams going forward
Both Sky Blue FC and Seattle will play tough home games next weekend. On Saturday, May 19 at 7:00 pm ET Sky Blue will host the league-leading North Carolina Courage (6W-2D-0L) at Yurcak Field. Seattle will remain at home where they will host the Chicago Red Stars on the same night at 10:00 pm ET.