SEATTLE (May 26, 2016) – In a historic match at Memorial Stadium, Seattle Reign FC played Arsenal Ladies FC to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly in front of a crowd of 4,083 on Thursday evening. It was the first match between an NWSL team and a club from the FA WSL.
The match carried special significance for Reign FC, as Arsenal is the former club of head coach Laura Harvey and midfielder Kim Little. Harvey led Arsenal to the FA Cup and FA WSL titles in 2011.
Reign FC started the match off strong, opening the scoring in the 17th minute. Midfielder Havana Solaun sent a twenty-five yard pass through the midfield to the top of the box, where midfielder Lindsay Elston collected the pass, but was immediately stripped of the ball by Arsenal goalkeeper Emma Bryne. The loose ball rolled toward forward Beverly Yanez, who fired a shot from the left side of the 18-yard line, sending it into the right top corner of the frame.
Jessica Fishlock, who started the match and was playing her first minutes for Seattle since breaking her left tibia on April 24, departed the match in the 32nd minute, with defender Kendall Fletcher entering as her replacement.
“What I didn’t want to do was overplay tonight. All I needed from today’s game was to see whether I was okay with tackling or jumping,” said Fishlock. “So if I wasn’t okay, then Sunday is out of the question. I played thirty minutes today and all of it seemed fine. This game was important for me from a personal perspective.”
In the 37th minute, Reign FC came close to extending its lead when midfielder Kim Little chased down a cross from forward Paige Nielsen into the right side of the box, but lost her footing at the top of the six-yard box. Little quickly recovered, dancing around Arsenal defender Josephine Henning before turning and firing a shot that was deflected over the crossbar.
After halftime, both Reign FC made several changes, with Kim Little, Bev Yanez, Hope Solo, Rachel Corsie, Lauren Barnes all leaving the match. The group was replaced by Haley Kopmeyer, Kiersten Dallstream and Elli Reed, as well as Reign FC reserve team players Kathryn Bennett and Erica Shelton.
Arsenal created a chance to level the score in the 64th minute, when midfielder Danielle Van de Donk and Seattle defender Kendall Fletcher collided at the corner of the six-yard box, sending Van de Donk to the ground and earning a penalty for the visitors. Forward Natalia Pablos Sanchon took the kick, burying a shot in the bottom left of the frame beneath a diving Haley Kopmeyer, leveling the score at 1-1.
Reign FC saw a chance for a game winner in the 80th minute when Bennett was fouled by forward Chloe Kelly on the far side of the field, 30 yards from goal. Midfielder Lindsay Elston took the kick for Reign FC, launching a cross which was caught by goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal.
Harvey was impressed with Fishlock’s first performance since her injury, but also pleased with how her team addressed the problems seen in May 22’s loss to the Chicago Red Stars.
“For what we wanted it to be, it served its purpose pretty well. We got players minutes on the field who hadn’t had them and got a chance to see Jess for thirty minutes – which was great,” said Harvey. “It allowed us to work on things that hadn’t been great against Chicago and in other games as well.”
Reign FC will face its regional rivals, Portland Thorns FC, this Sunday, May 29 at 4:00 p.m. PT at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. Last time the I-5 foes met on May 14 at Memorial Stadium, the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Reign FC goalkeeper Hope Solo will be absent from Sunday’s lineup as she will be in Denver, Colo. preparing for the U.S. Women’s National Team’s matches against Japan on June 2 and June 5. Six Portland players, including goalkeeper Adrianne Franch, defenders Meghan Klingenberg and Emily Sonnett, and midfielders Tobin Heath, Allie Long and Lindsey Horan will also be absent from Sunday’s match as a result of their commitments to the USWNT.
On Sunday, June 12, Reign FC will return home to face the Houston Dash at Memorial Stadium, with kickoff set for 4:00 p.m. PT. Tickets begin at $18 and can be purchased atreignfc.com/dash or by calling (855)-REIGN-FC.
Match Report Match: Seattle Reign FC vs. Arsenal Ladies FC
Date: May 26, 2016
Venue: Memorial Stadium – Seattle, Wash.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. PT
Weather: 59 degrees – Scattered showers
ARL: GK Emma Bryne (45’ Sari van Veenendall), D Emma Mitchell, D Josephine Henning, D Jemma Rose M Vicky Losada, M Jordan Nobbs, M Leah Williamson (8’ Alex Scott), M Marta Corredera (78’ Chloe Kelly), M Dominique Janssen (45’ Van de Donk), F Jodie Taylor (45’ Natalia Pablos Sanchon), F Danielle Carter (45’ Asisat Oshala)