The Washington Spirit fall 3-1 to Seattle Reign in front of a crowd of 1,754 at Memorial Stadium Wednesday night.
There was only one lineup change from the Spirit’s 3-1 victory over FC Kansas City with Danesha Adams replacing Lori Lindsey . This is a new role for Adams as she is well-known for her ability to find the back of the net and has featured for the Spirit up top on the left side. The Spirit came out again in a 4-2-3-1.
The Reign’s big change from its home-opening line up was the insertion of Nahomi Kawasumi in place of USWNT midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who rested a minor foot injury.
The scoring got off to a very early start in the 2nd minute when Kendall Fletcher got on the end of a Jessica Fishlock cross after a short corner kick. Fletcher got in front of Adams and with a little flick of the outside of her foot, lobbed it over Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
With a 1-0 lead, the Reign had the majority of possession and dangerous attacks on a slick, bouncy surface, creating good interchanges up front and possession in the final third. Defensively, the Spirit held a lower pressure line, allowing the Reign to control more of the ball. The score held 1-0 going into the half.
In the 49th minute, Kim Little earned the Reign a corner kick after battling two Spirit defenders in the left corner. Kawasumi’s kick found the head of a very forceful, onrushing Keelin Winters and then the back of the net.
The 2-0 score held and it didn’t look as though the Spirit would find any rhythm or gain any momentum until the 64th minute when Spirit Head Coach Mark Parsons made two tactical changes, introducing Lori Lindsey and Veronica Perez for Adams and Crystal Dunn.
The Spirit started to possess the ball better in the attacking third and created several scoring opportunities, including a ball slipped in behind from Lindsey to Diana Matheson, who attempted to put the ball past Reign goalkeeper, Hope Solo from inside the six-yard box. Solo quickly closed down Matheson and made the save.
The Spirit earned a penalty kick in the 72nd minute when Reign goal scorer Fletcher handled the ball in the box. Matheson converted after Solo guessed the wrong way, adding her team-leading third goal of the season.
In the 73rd minute, with the score 2-1, Spirit forward Renae Cuellar came in for Jodie Taylor. Cuellar proved to be a bit of a spark up top, joining the surge to press for an equalizer.
Against the run of play in the 81st minute, Fishlock increased the Reign’s lead with a low driven shot to the far post from outside the 18-yard box after a well-taken first touch to get herself on the turn.
With the win, the Reign sit on top of the NWSL table with two wins for 6 points, while the Spirit fall to 1-2-0 (3 points). The Reign will host the Houston Dash on Sunday afternoon and the Spirit will complete their third game in a week at Chicago on Saturday night.
(GK) Ashlyn Harris, (C) Ali Krieger, Tori Huster, Toni Pressley, Robyn Gayle, Yael Averbuch, Christine Nairn, Diana Matheson, Jodie Taylor (Renae Cuellar 73), Crystal Dunn (Veronica Perez 64), Danesha Adams (Lori Lindsey 64)
Subs not used: Jordan Angeli, Bianca Sierra, Chantel Jones, Cecilie Sandvej
(GK) Hope Solo, Elli Reed, Lauren Barnes, Kendall Fletcher, Stephanie Cox, (C) Keelin Winters, Jessica Fishlock, Kim Little, Beverly Goebel, Nahomi Kawasumi (Kiersten Dallstream 90+), Sydney Leroux (Kate Deines 82)
Subs not used: Megan Rapinoe, Danielle Foxhoven, Mariah Noguiera, Megan Brigman, Haley Kopmeyer