This game had big playoffs implications for both teams. The Reign FC was a point behind Utah Royal FC, in the fifth place, and needed a win to start securing a spot while the Washington Spirit is pushing to get into the playoffs after a good start of the season. Nonetheless, some rough results in the last few weeks left them several points behind the first four spots.
Both teams needed to win but the final result left them unsatisfied for sure.
Reign dominated the first 30 minutes of the match, with a high pressure and with their forwards looking dangerous in the final third. But the home team surprised them with a goal thanks to a combination of Mallory Pugh and Ashley Hatch.
Pugh started for the Spirit a few weeks after sustaining an injury and her presence made a good difference in the pace of the team in the attack. She sent a great cross inside the box where Hatch was near the second post. Somehow, 2017's Rookie of the Year managed to head that ball and put it in the back of the net although she was moving away from goal. It was a great score and her second header that finds its target at Audi Field.
Nonetheless, Reign managed to tie thing up minutes later. Rosie White sent a ball to the box from the corner and Bev Yanez managed to knock it down, and it was Bethany Balcer the one who fired a low shot that Aubrey Bledsoe couldn’t stop.
Despite the goal, the Spirit looked better than Reign. The home team kept looking for another goal before half time and dominated those final minutes of the first half. However, the start of the second half brought a game-changer to the field, to the visitor's side.
Megan Rapinoe was subbed in for Rosie White and gave the team a renovated spirit and a freshness to Reign’s game style.
The game was fun to watch and kept a fast pace until the end. Cheyna Matthews, subbed in the 60th minute for the Spirit, created a lot of trouble in their rival’s defense. But it was Ashley Hatch the one who connected with the substitute Chloe Logarzo in the 90th minute and put Washington up in the scoreboard again, sending the crowd and the bench on a frenzy.
However, Jodie Taylor has been contributing for her team more than ever and she was key to finding Ifeoma Onumonu two minutes later, who sprinted and finished with her left foot inside the box to level things up for the Reign for the second time in the night.
The match ended at the 90+7’ minute and although it was an exciting match for the fans, the result wasn’t what these teams wanted. A point each it was not enough although Reign now is tied in points with Utah but the Sandy, UT team has a better goal difference. Both teams will decide who gets in 4th place when they play each other on Wednesday night.
Washington, in the other hand, has 26 points now and their current outlook is tough. Even if they win all their remaining games they will need the upper teams to lose many points if they want to get into the playoffs.
It will be interesting to see what this end of the season holds for us and the teams on the league. Keep an eye on these two teams and don't miss any action next week.