On a beautiful sunny day in Seattle two teams started up another chapter of their soccer rivalry.
The Seattle Reign FC played host to their Pacific Northwest neighbors the Portland Thorns FC but the 2-0 win for the Reign was anything but neighborly.
The Cascadia Clash was just that as both teams played physical ball as they attempted to find the back of the net.
But it was the Reign (5-2-5) who scored first when forward Megan Rapinoe squeezed one into the back of the net off an errant back pass by Portland’s defense for a 1-0 lead.
“I think that it’s no surprise that Portland at the back are often times a little bit loose with (the ball),” said Rapinoe. “…Sometimes their just a little bit nervous, a little sloppy with it so we always want to put pressure on…I definitely didn’t think it was going to be (a goal) I just wanted to pressure.”
Rapinoe has been beyond solid in her work on the pitch and Seattle head coach Laura Harvey had a lot of praise for her forward.
“Pinoe at the minute is world class both sides of the ball,” said Harvey. “…Phenomenal, this is the fittest I’ve ever seen her. Healthiest, fittest, most determined. She loves this club, I know she does. She works really hard every day. She’s obviously put in the performances and we’re getting the rewards for that which I’m more than happy with.”
Harvey had another happy Rapinoe moment against the Thorns (6-6-2) when the forward took a quick shot off a long ball that midfielder Christine Nairn had kicked over the defense. The shot went into the far lower corner for the goal.
With the 2-0 lead the Reign continued to stay focused as Portland tried to press for goals. But the Seattle backline and goalie Haley Kopmeyer had little trouble keeping the Thorns out of the net.
“I was slightly worried coming into this game,” said Harvey. “But I think two things: one the girls put in a phenomenal effort. I think tactically we sort of knew what they were going to try and do. We let them do some things but we wanted to try and stop them doing other things. We got rewarded with our first goal on that.
Playing a rival like Portland can keep also keep a team that’s played a number of games in a few days up and ready to go and Harvey was glad that the Thorns were at the end of this schedule run.
“With everything that’s gone into this week I always said I was glad to have Portland last,” said Harvey. “There’s just that extra adrenaline and extra bite around the game and I think that’s what drove us through.”
The Reign are looking focused and strong after a tough week of games. After tying FC Kansas City 2-2 in Kansas City Seattle came home to start their three-game homestand against the same FC Kansas City.
They pulled off a comeback tie against Kansas City to keep their undefeated home streak alive and then faced the Chicago Red Stars and earned a hard-to-come-by win 2-1.
What could it be about this team that is creating the buzz of “you don’t want to play the Reign FC right now?”
“I feel like we’re Seattle Reign,” said Harvey. “Currently it’s the best way I could describe it is we feel like a team. We feel like a team that wants to play for each other.”
They’ll meet again in August in Seattle but until then the Reign has a week to prepare for their next match against the NC Courage at 4:30pm on Saturday, July 8th in North Carolina.