Megan Rapinoe scored the game’s only goal as Seattle Reign FC topped Utah Royals FC 1-0 at UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium.
The win moves the Reign to 8-3-5 on the season with 29 points, good enough for second place in the NWSL — and with a game in hand, they have a bit of cushion between their nearest competitors. The Reign are also now 5-1-2 at home, the second-best home record in the league and are riding a three game winning streak.
The loss for Utah drops them to 5-5-6 with 21 points, and they remain in sixth place — now four points out of the final playoff spot with a third of the season remaining. It’s their second straight loss and they are now 1-3-1 in their last five games since their upset of the North Carolina Courage.
Rapinoe’s goal came in the 54th minute, a header on a Steph Catley corner kick. Catley’s service floated past the back post and Rapinoe headed it back across and to the side netting of the near post to beat Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith. It’s Rapinoe’s seventh goal of the season, tied for second in the NWSL.
— NWSL (@NWSL) July 12, 2018
In the 30th minute, Reign defender Theresa Nielsen made a run down the right sideline to steal a backpass and then serve a cross into the box. Rapinoe’s shot was well-blocked by Utah’s Katie Bowen to prevent a shot on net.
Utah Royals FC forward Amy Rodriguez had a chance to get her side on the board in the 47th minute, but her effort hit side netting.
— NWSL (@NWSL) July 12, 2018
The Reign controlled possession in the first half, but Utah had the better of the second half and the match ended at a near-even split between the two teams.
Four players received yellow cards in the match: Seattle’s Allie Long and Utah’s Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir, Rachel Corsie and Sam Johnson. Johnson’s yellow card gives her five for the season, and she will have to sit out Utah’s next match on Saturday vs. Orlando.
Utah Royals FC were without Diana Matheson, who was serving a one-game suspension for a late challenge on Thorns defender Midge Purce last weekend. They were also without Becky Sauerbrunn, who was ruled out on Wednesday afternoon with a left tibial stress reaction. Desiree Scott wore the captain’s armband for Utah on the evening.
Seattle Reign FC midfielder Jess Fishlock started and played all 90 minutes in her first appearance since June 3 after missing time to do a right quad strain. Forward Adriana Leon made her first start for the Reign after joining them in a trade last month.
The game marked the second meeting of the season between the two teams — but Utah Royals FC head coach Laura Harvey’s first game in Seattle as the opposing coach. Harvey spent the last five seasons with the Reign before stepping down and then later joining the new Utah franchise as their first head coach.
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday night. Utah Royals FC will host the Orlando Pride and Seattle Reign FC will visit the Chicago Red Stars.