The Western New York Flash stretched their NWSL unbeaten record to eight matches and the Seattle Reign escaped with a point for the first time since opening weekend when the two clubs played to a 1-1 draw in front of 6,347 fans at Sahlen’s Stadium.
Megan Rapinoe made her NWSL debut for Seattle and made an impact in her first match despite having not trained with her new club.
Seattle took the lead in the 28th minute when Jessica Fishlock played Teresa Noyola on the left side of the box. The Mexican international played the ball to the top of the box where Keelin Winters was waiting. Winters took a right-footed shot first time that deflected off of a Flash defender and past Adrianna Franch.
The goal was the first for the Reign since Noyola’s goal in the 47th minute against Washington on May 16, ending a 431 minute goalless streak.
The Flash would get the equalizer 12 minutes into the second half when Reign defender Kiersten Dallstream pulled down Abby Wambach inside of the penalty box. Dallstream was given her second yellow card of the match and the Flash were awarded a penalty kick.
Wambach stepped up to take the kick up against her United States teammate Hope Solo. Her shot bounced off the underside of the crossbar and over the line to tie the game. It was her league-leading seventh goal of the season.
The Reign’s best chance to take the lead came almost ten minutes before Winters’ goal. Fishlock chested a pass down in the box and slotted a ball back for Noyola who hit her right-footed shot first time on goal. Franch got a hand on it to push it out for a corner kick in the 19th minute.
The Flash looked to equalize going into the break when Victoria DiMartino fired a left-footed shot that Solo turned aside right at Sarah Huffman. Huffman, who was making her first start of the season, played a ball back to Wambach and the opportunity fizzled as the Blues cleared it out of danger.
The visitors were almost able to take a two goal lead one minute into the second half. Kennya Cordner took a pass from Noyola down the right flank and cut the ball back before firing a low, hard shot that came off the post then off of Brittany Taylor before Franch was able to corral the loose ball.
Cordner was signed last week and made her debut alongside Rapinoe. She was a constant presence in the offensive third while she was on the pitch,
The home side had several chances to grab the go ahead goal, especially after the Dallstream red card just before the hour mark of the match. The best opportunity for the Flash came in the 82nd minute when second half substitute Veronica Perez saw her diving header stopped by Solo.
Minutes before, the Reign saw their best late chance smack off the crossbar as Noyola was looking to get her team a much needed three points.
The Seattle Reign remain at the bottom of the table at 0-9-2 (2 points) and will look to earn that elusive first win when they continue their east coast road trip to Boston on June 26. Western New York sits in a tie with FC Kansas City at 5-2-4 (19 points) and will look to extend their streak to nine on June 28 when they host the Washington Spirit.
- Seattle’s luck: Twice the Reign have given up a penalty kick in the second half that has cost them points. The call in Portland was questionable at best but I haven’t gotten a chance to look at this one. At the very least, I’m not sure I’d call Dallstream for a second yellow there.
- Rapinoe’s debut: Rapinoe hasn’t even gotten a chance to train with her new teammates and she’s coming off a 90 minute performance on Thursday night. She injected the Reign attack with energy and was involved for the entire match.
- Kennya Cordner: Cordner is fast. She also showed that she has a nose for goal, had a couple of close chances and was a constant thorn in the side for the Flash. I’m not quite sure that I agree with Head Coach Laura Harvey’s decision to pull her off in favor of Ruiz just after the red card on Dallstream. Cordner had been playing well and was causing trouble for the Flash.
- Flash Streak: The Flash haven’t lost since April 27, going 5-0-3 in that time despite having players missing due to national team commitments. They are the hottest team in the league and sit seven points behind the league leaders having played one few match than both Sky Blue FC and Portland. Samantha Kerr and Adriana will both miss time due to national team duty, but the Flash should keep the majority of their squad intact for the rest of the season.
SEA: Winters (Noyola) – 28′
WNY: Wambach (PK) – 57′
SEA – Dallstream – 48′ – Yellow Card
SEA – Dallstream – 57′ – Yellow Card (sent off)
WNY – Lloyd – 73 – Yellow Card
SEA – Fishlock – 83 – Yellow Card
WNY Flash starters: Franch, Sahlen, Johnson, Taylor, Reynolds, Salem (Perez, 73), Zerboni, Lloyd, Huffman (Kerr, 45), DiMartino (Robinson, 65), Wambach.
Seattle Reign FC starters: Solo, Barnes, Reed, Kyle, Noyola (Deines, 88), Fishlock, Winters, Nairn (Bogus, 71), Dallstream, Cordner (Ruiz, 59), Rapinoe.