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Seattle, Wash. (10/05/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face OL Reign in both sides’ 21st match of the 2023 NWSL regular season. The match kicks off at 8:00 p.m. EDT at Lumen Field in Seattle, Washington and will broadcast on CBS for fans across the United States. Canadian viewers can stream the match on TSN+ while other international viewers will be able to watch on NWSLSoccer.com.
A much-needed 2-1 result over the Kansas City Current provided the Spirit momentum heading into Friday’s match against OL Reign. The victory helped the Spirit sweep Kansas City in the regular season series for the first time in team history. With 29 points through 20 matches, the Spirit is off to the club’s third-best start through 20 matches in team history. Three of the top four Spirit performances through 20 games (2014, 2015 and 2023) have come under Head Coach Mark Parsons.
Despite conceding first, the Spirit rallied with two second half goals from forwards Ouleymata Sarr and Trinity Rodman. Sarr’s equalizer was the first goal of her young NWSL career as she made her league debut in August. Rodman’s goal was the 15th regular season goal of her career (4th all-time in Spirit history) and her fourth career regular season game-winning goal. Defender Gabrielle Carle set up Rodman’s goal on a perfectly placed through ball, the first assist of her NWSL career.
Another notable from last Saturday’s match was Ashley Hatch making her 100th career start for the Washington Spirit. Additionally, the Spirit hosted a crowd of over 11,000 fans at Audi Field. This is the seventh Spirit crowd of over 10,000 fans this season – a club record – and helped the Spirit surpass over 100,000 fans at regular season home matches this season.
The last meeting between the Spirit and OL Reign came during the 2023 season kickoff weekend in early spring. The Spirit won the match, 1-0, on March 26 off a 54th-minute goal from Rodman. A strike from over 25 yards away, the goal marked the longest of Rodman’s career (any competition). The Spirit controlled the second half of that match, holding OL Reign to only one shot on target in the final 45.
With the win, the Spirit defeated OL Reign in back-to-back season opener matches and extended the team’s unbeaten streak (all competitions) against OL Reign to 10 games. This unbeaten streak dates back to 2018 and includes a current five-game winning streak during which the Spirit has only allowed two goals in the past six matches.
OL Reign Head Coach Laura Harvey and Spirit Head Coach Mark Parsons represent two of the mainstays in NWSL coaching history. Currently, Harvey (95) leads Parsons (88) in career regular season victories, however Harvey has coached 21 more regular season matches than Parsons.
The Spirit will host the North Carolina Courage in the team’s final home match of the 2023 regular season at Audi Field. The match will kick off at 5:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday, October 15 and will be Fan Appreciation Night. The Spirit is looking to pack Audi Field to celebrate fans as the club concludes its most-attended home season ever. Tickets can be found here.
OL Reign has a quick turnaround for Friday’s match following a 1-1 draw with the North Carolina Courage on Sunday. The first half of play was action-packed. It included both goals of the match and a red card issued to OL Reign’s Alana Cook. Serving as OL Reign’s starting center back, Cook’s absence during Friday night’s game will be notable. Somehow, OL Reign did not concede despite Cook’s absence and weathering 18 second half shots from North Carolina. Ironically, OL Reign has not lost a match after receiving a straight red card since 2013 – the date of the team’s first-ever red card.
The opening goal of the match came off the head of Bethany Balcer from Megan Rapinoe’s corner service. Balcer leads the NWSL in headed goals (4) this season and holds the top mark in the league (13) since 2019.
Megan Rapinoe’s assist to Balcer was her 25th in regular season play, all with OL Reign, equaling teammate Jess Fishlock for the most assists with one team in league history. With two matches left, Rapinoe has 49 goals and could become the fourth player with 50 goals and 25 assists in regular season play in NWSL history and the first to do so for a single club.
OL Reign is now in the sixth and final playoff spot with 28 points (8-8-4), one point shy of the Spirit’s total of 29. There are six teams within three points of OL Reign in either direction, making this a truly high-stakes affair. A loss could seriously threaten OL Reign’s hopes of a playoff appearance, while a win could help OL Reign’s mission of hosting a playoff match.
Though, OL Reign has been cool as of late: it has just one win in its last seven regular season matches (D2, L4). The last time the Reign recorded one win in a span of seven matches within a single regular season was in May-June 2018.
Despite the Spirit’s recent success against OL Reign, the Seattle-based side has earned 42 points (12-4-6) at home during regular season play since Lumen Field was named the team’s home in 2022, the most of any team during that time.
The Spirit will have to navigate a hostile environment on Friday night. In what will be a potential NWSL record breaking event, OL Reign will celebrate legend Megan Rapinoe who is playing in her final home regular season match with the team.
OL Reign finishes the season on the road against the Chicago Red Stars at 5:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday, October 15.