Sky Blue FC (0-7-1, 1 point) is still in search of its first win of the 2018 campaign as the New Jersey side lost 1-0 on Saturday night to the visiting Seattle Reign FC (5-2-2, 17 points) at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. Megan Rapinoe scored the lone tally of the match to help the Reign complete its National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season sweep between these two clubs.
Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy made some tactical adjustments to the starting line-up for the match, with the focus being two holding center midfielders playing the six role and having the seven, nine and eleven play higher up the field to have more players in scoring position when in possession. The result was a strong showing out of the gate for Sky Blue.
The New Jersey squad almost got off to an early lead in the 9th minute of play. Amanda Frisbie made a run with the ball into the attacking third, then played a pass towards the left-side of the penalty area for Carli Lloyd to run onto. Lloyd ripped a shot that forced Seattle netminder Lydia Williams to make a diving save. Lloyd followed up the rebound and tried centering a chip for teammate Katie Johnson to head home, but she just missed it.
A minute later, Seattle had its first shot on goal by Jessica Fishlock, but Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan was able to secure the ball and make the save. The Reign created another scoring chance in the 18th minute when Fishlock played a ball behind the defense for Jodie Taylor. Taylor penetrated to goal with defender Rebekah Stott chasing her down. Taylor cut the ball back towards her left foot to try and get a shot off, but Stott read the play and poked the ball away for a great defense stop.
In the 33rd minute, Sky Blue FC created another opportunity when Sarah Killion sent a corner kick from the right side of the field towards the far post, and it was initially headed away by Seattle. However, Thaisa Moreno was able to settle the clearance and play to Christina Gibbons. After the ball worked back out wide to Killion, she delivered a cross into the box towards the far post where Janine Beckie one-timed volleyed a shot that was denied by Williams.
The stalemate eventual broke in the 64th minute of action. Defender Christen Westphal worked her way through the Sky Blue FC defense on the left flank and dribbled into the box. She then played a split ball towards the center of the penalty area where Rapinoe was open to send home a one-time finish. The goal marked her fifth of the season, and she currently sits in second place for the NWSL Golden Boot race.
Rapinoe looked to double the lead in the 80th minute when Beverly Yanez split a pair of defenders with a through-ball that put Rapinoe in a 1-on-1 situation to goal. Rapinoe sent a strike on target, but Sheridan was able to block the shot. The rebound bounced towards the goal, but Stott was able to make a recovery run and clear the ball away from danger to keep it a one-goal game. As time expired, the score remained 1-0 in favor of Seattle to keep the Reign in second place of the NWSL standings.
“There’s small little things we probably can do, maybe an extra pass in the final third instead of being rushed in the box because we’re a little anxious, but at the end of the day we got chances and it’s frustrating,” said Reddy. “They’re upset because they played well but can’t get a result. I feel for them. They’re frustrated because they want to win but they also understand the difference between playing well and losing, and not giving it their all.”
Sky Blue FC returns to action on June 2 when the club hosts Utah Royals FC. The match will mark the team’s Kickoff to Pride Month Celebration.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Seattle Reign FC
Date: May 26, 2018
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 84 degrees, sunny
SEA: 0 | 1 - 1
NJ: 0 | 0 – 0
64’ NJ Megan Rapinoe (Christen Westphal)
NJ: Sheridan, Frisbie, Stott, Freeman, Gibbons (Hoy-82), Moreno (Tiernan-89), Lloyd, Killion, Beckie, Johnson (Groom-63), McCaskill
Subs not used: Gunion, Meehan, Richardson
Head Coach: Denise Reddy
SEA: Williams, Westphal, Barnes, McNabb, Nielsen, Utsugi, Fishlock (Yanez-66), Long, Rapinoe, Taylor (Spencer-56), Addo (Kleiner-81)
Subs Not Used: Betos, Andrews, Bauer, Kawasumi
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
Stats Summary: NJ / SEA
Shots: 10 / 9
Saves: 5 / 4
Corner Kicks: 7 / 4
Fouls: 10 / 8
Offside: 0 / 6
Referee: Jasmine Peralta
Assistant Referee 1: Ian McKay
Assistant Referee 2: Benjamin Wooten
Fourth Official: Thomas Snyder