OL Reign is set to take on the Houston Dash for the second time this season, but the first time on the road. The Reign will look to continue their winning ways after defeating the Kansas City Current last week. For the Reign, this is the first of three consecutive matches on the road before the team returns to Lumen Field in July.
WHEN AND WHERE: OL Reign kicks off at 5:30 p.m. PT Shell Energy Stadium in Houston, Texas
WHERE TO WATCH: Fans can tune in on Paramount+ in the U.S., TSN+ in Canada or at NWSLsoccer.com abroad. Local watch party at Rough & Tumble Pub in Ballard.
2023 NWSL REGULAR SEASON RECORDS AND STANDINGS (W-L-D): OL Reign: 6-4-1 (19 points, 4th place), Houston Dash: 4-3-4 (16 points, 7th place)
Key Points Ahead of the Match:
1. LAST MEETING – OL Reign and the Houston Dash have met once this season already, at Lumen Field in May. In the match, the Reign managed to keep Houston off the scoreboard and record a shutout win in front of their home crowd. Forwards Veronica Latsko and Jordyn Huitema both added goals during the match for a solid 2-0 victory in favor of OL Reign.
Latsko recorded the first goal of the match less than 10 minutes into the second half. Reign forward Megan Rapinoe served a ball into the box from the left side of the field, where Latsko made no mistake as she headed the ball into the back of the net in the 53rd minute. Huitema added an assurance goal in the in the 68th minute when a cheeky passing sequence left the ball at the feet of Latsko. The forward took one touch before serving the ball to the back post, where Huitema beat her defenders to head the ball into the back of the net.
2. SCOUTING HOUSTON – Most recently, the Dash played an NWSL UKG Challenge Cup match on the road against Racing Louisville FC and fell 3-0. The Dash maintained a 0-0 scoreline against the Kentucky-based team until stoppage time of the first half, when things went awry for the visitors. Louisville’s Kayla Fischer netted her first professional goal in first half stoppage time, just before Savannah DeMelo doubled the lead. Racing Louisville found one more goal before the match was over, as Parker Goins headed the ball into the back of the net in the 74th minute. Prior to this Challenge Cup match, Houston drew 1-1 with NJ/NY Gotham FC in an NWSL regular season match.
“Houston is definitely a very physical team. They have a great offense, especially with (Dash forward Diana) Ordóñez, with (Dash forward Ebony) Salmon, a great midfield, they do love to slip balls in behind our lines, go for those breakaways, as well as cut-back crosses, so those are the things that me and my defensive line are keeping in mind going into this game. Now, especially with the heat, that plays a factor into any type of long ball and having to chase those down, just knowing that we’ve just got to stay in it mentally. That also works with our communication, too, and just communicating with each other so that we all stick it through 90-plus minutes,” said Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce.
“It’s always the same with us, really, we always think prevention is better than cure, trying to stop it, trying to not let them have the opportunity to do that. Obviously, like you said, it’s going to be hot tomorrow, so that may be difficult to stop all the time, so if we’re not in a position to stop it, we’ve got to try and deal with it quickly in behind. We know that about them. Obviously, we’ve played them already and I thought we did a good job limiting their amount of opportunities that they had and we’ll have to do the same again tomorrow,” said OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey.
3. ON THE ROAD AGAIN – OL Reign is beginning a long stretch of matches on the road and with that comes several variables to consider. Between travel, playing in weather that the team isn’t quite used to and having several key playing out with injury, the team is ready for the challenge. Despite all of these circumstances, the Reign are focused on themselves and doing what they do best.
“I think, for us, it’s about getting points on the road. I think we’ve got to be pragmatic in that stance of trying to make sure that we get points on the road, I think that’s important for us. If that means we have to tweak and change the things that we do within the game due to the heat or anything else that impacts that, we’ve got to be prepared to do that. So, I wouldn’t say it’s very specific to this game, I would just say, on the road, we’ve got to start picking up some points and obviously tomorrow is the first opportunity for us to do that,” said Harvey.
“It’s definitely toasty here in Houston than it is in Washington, at the moment. I think our players are handling it well. We just had our training session this morning and everyone kind of knows that it’s important to get these points and that’s really what we’re focused on and all other distractions such as the weather, that’s kind of in the backburner, but we’re just really looking to do our best on the field,” said Tullis-Joyce.
MultiCare Availability Report:
Jess Fishlock (leg)
Rose Lavelle (leg)
Phoebe McClernon (D45 – back)
Megan Rapinoe (leg)