Saturday, 7 p.m. ET | Yurcak Field | Piscataway, N.J.
Nahomi Kawasumi and the Seattle Reign look to ride the emotions of a thrilling midweek comeback into their match against Samantha Kerr and Sky Blue FC in a game vital to the playoff chances of both teams.
Kawasumi scored the game-tying goal in the 90th minute before substitute Katlyn Johnson netted the game-winner in the 92nd to lead the Reign to a 2-1 road win over the Chicago Red Stars. Seattle became just the second team in league history to win a game they trailed at the 85-minute mark and the first team to do so away from home.
The result vaulted the Reign back into the final playoff spot in the NWSL standings after the Cascadia club were briefly knocked out of the top four by Orlando.
It was the second comeback victory this season for the Reign, who now have recovered eight points from losing positions in 2017 – tied with Sky Blue FC for the second most in the league.
The goal for Kawasumi was her fifth of the year, along with a league-leading seven assists. Meanwhile, Johnson capped off one of the most dramatic wins of the season with her third goal of the campaign – all of which have come as a substitute.
Reign coach Laura Harvey has handled her bench with a deft touch this season as Seattle will take the field Saturday with their substitutes producing a league-high eight points in 2017 – three more than any other club. Johnson has been a big part of that equation with four of her five points this year coming in her 15 substitute appearances.
The Reign will come into the match tied with Orlando for the top-rated offense in the league. Both clubs have racked up 33 goals from 18 games. Their 1.83 goals per game is tied for the fourth-best single-season offense in league history.
That’s not good news for Sky Blue FC, who are currently mired in their worst defensive form in the club’s history.
The Jersey side suffered a 5-0 loss to the Pride in Week 16 as they slumped to their third consecutive loss and extended their winless run to four games. Sky Blue have now conceded 14 times in the last three games – an unwelcome league record – with 11 of those goals coming in the second half.
Sky Blue have given up nine consecutive goals without reply – with Maya Hayes the last one to light up the scoreboard – and on Wednesday the team announced that Christy Holly was stepping down as head coach.
Despite their current form, Kerr and her teammates will enter the weekend just four points behind their visitors Saturday for the fourth and final playoff spot. Sky Blue are still looking for their first win against the Reign in 2017 after going 0-1-1 against them in their two previous meetings this season – including a nine-goal thriller in which Seattle emerged as 5-4 winners.
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