• Dan Berridge

Preview: OL Reign (a).

When? October 1st 7 p.m. PT, 10 p.m. ET and 3 a.m. BST (2/10).

Where? Lumen Field, Seattle, WA.

How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on Twitch for domestic and international supporters.


Well, it's been a long and arduous season for the Orlando Pride. It's a season that has again seen the team fall short of the play-off line.


Still, there's opportunity here for Orlando. The off-season will give them a tangible opportunity to reset and continue this re-build. A decision has yet to be reached in regards to Amanda Cromwell's future, but a coaching change feels inevitable at this point.


Has Seb Hines done enough to secure the job for himself? Maybe. He's certainly put his name into the conversation. The former Orlando City defender steadied the ship at a particularly trying time. Interesting times lie ahead.


Anyway, in the meantime 2022's curtain fall comes in the shape of a visit to Seattle to face OL Reign. Piece of cake, right?



OL Reign's style


OL Reign are pretty much the archetypal Laura Harvey side; hard to beat, well organised in defence and lethal in attack. They have the best goals conceded per game record in the league at 0.9 (figure 1). They also have the best XGa record at 1.75, whilst having an XG of 1.94.


They use a flat back 4, with a double pivot in midfield. Their midfielders are so comfortable breaking lines that it's difficult to press them too much. Quinn will often sit and occupy the 'quarterback' role, allowing their midfield partner (usually Jess Fishlock) to break forward from deep, thus allowing their front 4 to become a front 5. The full-backs then to provide width to stretch the field. Their style of play has been perfected over the last year or so, and is largely born out of their chemistry and synergy.


Figure 1 shows OL Reign's goal conceded average on the season so far.


Team news


OL Reign have a number of absentees heading into this game according to the NWSL player availability report; Angelina and Tobin Heath remain on the season ending injury list, alongside Jodi Ulkekul and Sinclair Miramontez, whilst Jimena Lopez is under Covid protocols.


As for the Pride, Caitlin Cosme, Kaylie Collins, Marta, Chelsee Washington, Vivianna Villacorta and Parker Roberts (Covid protocols) are all out with injury. Seb Hines also said Mikayla Cluff is likely to miss out, although she isn't on the injury report. Anna Moorhouse and Erika Tymrak will be assessed closer to the game.



Possible starting XI


OL Reign are flying right now, so I can't see them making any changes. I think we will see the same XI that so comfortably beat Houston last time out:


Top player


Megan Rapinoe



The evergreen Rapinoe has been back to her best in the NWSL this year, plundering 6 goals and 4 assists from 13 appearances. At 37, she perhaps doesn't have the pace she had earlier in her career, but she's adapted her game well. She's probably the most menacing set-piece taker in the league. She has the soccer IQ and passing ability to affect the game from deep.



Form


OL Reign are absolutely flying right now, having won 5 of their last 6, drawing the other one. They currently sit second in the standings and have the Shield firmly in their sights.


As for the Pride, they halted a run of 4 straight defeats with the recent draw with San Diego. The Pride sit 9th, and cannot go any higher. The goal will be to ensure a 9th place finish.


*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com.

Media availability footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.

Cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.

Top player image courtesy of OL Reign.

Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com.