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Seattle Reign FC (16-2-6, 54 pts) will play its first playoff match in club history on Sunday, August 24 at the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium against the Washington Spirit (10-9-5, 35 pts) for a berth in the NWSL Championship Match on Sunday, August 31. The match kicks off at 8 p.m (PT) and will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Reign FC concluded the regular season last Sunday, August 17, with a 1-0 loss against Portland Thorns FC at Providence Park in Portland. Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan scored the lone goal of the match in the 68th minute off a corner kick into the box from midfielder Allie Long. Despite some late pressure around Portland’s goal, Seattle was unable to find an equalizer.
Washington also wrapped up their regular season on Sunday, losing to Sky Blue FC 1-0 on a lone goal from Monica Ocampo. Despite the loss, the Spirit also clinched their first NWSL playoff appearance and finished the regular season in 4th place.
Seattle and Washington met three times during the regular season, with Reign FC clinching the series with two wins and a draw. The first time the teams squared off on Wednesday, April 23 at the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium, Seattle won 3-1, with goals from forward Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi, midfielder Jess Fishlock, and defender Kendall Fletcher.
For the clubs' second meeting, Reign FC traveled to the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday, May 3 where Seattle notched their first come from behind victory and prevailed 2-1 with goals from Fishlock and forward Sydney Leroux.
The third matchup between the two sides took place earlier this month, on Saturday, August 9, at the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium where Reign FC gave up the early goal and trailed 1-0 for the majority of the game. Seattle would remain one goal down until the 89th minute, when forward Megan Rapinoe connected with Scottish international Kim Little on a pass into the box. Little then broke past a line of four Washington defenders, dribbling past goalkeeper Chantel Jones for the equalizer on the near post.
With the draw, Reign FC completed its regular season home schedule undefeated with a record of 8-0-4.
Seattle finished the regular season atop the league standings and locked down the NWSL Shield after defeating the Houston Dash 4-1 on Wednesday, July 30. The squad not only set a new league record for total wins, but also set a new record for most points scored in a single season, passing last season’s record by 16 points. Seattle also outscored opponents 30-11 when at home, and 20-9 when on the road during the regular season.
Reign FC was responsible for setting several other records throughout the course of the season. The team’s goal differential of +30 is 14 more than the mark set last season by the Western New York Flash, while the team’s 50 goals on the year is also 14 higher than the mark set by the Flash in 2013. Seattle also allowed the fewest goals in the 2014 season (20), and posted by far the league’s biggest improvement from last year, finishing 36 points ahead of their mark in 2013.
Individually, Little burst onto the scene in her first season stateside, winning the NWSL’s Golden Boot Award with 16 goals in 23 matches, and taking home NWSL Player of the Month honors three times. Fishlock finished the season as the league leader in assists with eight (one ahead of Little), while Kawasumi finished in the top 10 in both goals and assists, with nine and five, respectively.
Sunday’s match will see the return of Rapinoe, Leroux and Hope Solo, who left the club earlier this week to compete with the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) in a friendly against Switzerland at WakeMed Soccer Field in Cary, North Carolina, on Wednesday, August 20.
In the team's 4-1 victory, it was the pair of Seattle forwards that would team up for the USWNT’s first goal. In the third minute, Leroux played a ball to Rapinoe about 10 yards above the box, with Rapinoe firing a shot past Swiss goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann to start the scoring.
On the defensive end, Solo played the full 90 minutes, conceding one goal on a penalty kick from Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic. With her 153rd appearance with the USWNT, Solo tied Michelle Akers for 17th all-time in career caps.
Fishlock will also be returning from international duty ahead of Sunday’s game. Fishlock – who missed Seattle’s final match of the regular season due to national team commitments – played all 90 minutes in the Wales Women’s National Team’s 4-0 loss to England on Thursday, August 21 at Cardiff Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
“I think [Washington Spirit] are a good side,” said head coach and general manager Laura Harvey. “I said from the first time we played them, I thought they would get into the playoffs.”
Harvey said the Spirit have a similar style of play to Seattle, and make it difficult for Reign FC to play their game.
“They did it when they were here a couple of weeks ago and we just need to learn from that and go out and put on a performance worthy of a playoff semi,” Harvey said. “If we do that, we’ve got a good chance of winning the game.”
Visit ReignFC.com or call (855) REIGN-FC for details on NWSL playoff tickets. Seats for Seattle’s NWSL semifinals match on Sunday, August 24 at 8 p.m. (PT) at the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium start at $24.