It just wasn’t meant to be for the Courage in their game against the Utah Royals. After a wild 2-2 draw in their first meeting, the clubs looked to be set to split the points yet again until a last minute goal by Brittany Ratcliffe ended North Carolina’s hopes for a perfect season. Still, the Courage played well enough to win but their poor finishing finally caught up with them. North Carolina will look to get back on another unbeaten streak as they travel to Seattle and take on the Reign.
The Reign look to, you know - score a goal
The Reign come into the match sitting in second place - well, they’re sitting way back in second place as North Carolina holds an 11 point lead in the table and Seattle is tied with the Orlando Pride. This is obviously a talented club that can find a lot of ways to score a goal. One of those ways is by letting Megan Rapinoe shoot from just about wherever she wants. The USWNT forward is tied for second in the golden boot race with five goals on the year and tied for second as well with 35 shots.
As far as what to expect from Seattle, the Reign are a strong defensive team having allowed only eight goals in 11 games. They will try to slow down the Courage attack and clog up the passing lanes in transition. That said, they will be without Jess Fishlock and the central midfielder will be sorely missed both in possession and when the Reign are working to win the ball back. Finally, like North Carolina the Reign struggle to score, but rather than it being an issue of not being able to finish more than one of the 20 chances they create in a game, they have trouble creating those chances. Seattle has not scored in two games and need to fix that if they hope to stay in the top four this year.
The Courage look to bounce back
For their part, the Courage are coming off of a disappointing, last minute loss. North Carolina will need to put that behind them and remain focused on breaking down a very difficult to beat team. In particular, the Courage will need to move the ball quickly to try and get in behind the Reign defense. While finding chances from crosses hasn’t been a problem for North Carolina, it seems like the team struggles to run at defenders and take shots that way. If the team can manage to find playmakers Debinha and Crystal Dunn time to unlock the Reign defense, they may have more success than they do attempting to score from headed crosses.
Defensively, the Courage will be without Abby Dahlkemper and will be missing central midfielder Sam Mewis. Dahlkemper is a big loss for the team, though their depth has shined through as Kaleigh Kurtz has filled in well in her starts at center back. Aside from trying to contain Rapinoe, the team will need to look out for Nahomi Kawasumi as the Japanese international is key to distributing the ball to her teammates to create chances.
How to watch
Kickoff at 4PM EST, Saturday June 22, 2018 - Watch streaming on go90.com and the go90 app.