Per team release
OL Reign wrapped up the preliminary round of the NWSL Challenge Cup with a scoreless draw against rivals Portland Thorns FC on Monday, July 13 in the club’s 2020 Pride Match presented by Boeing.
The draw moved OL Reign into third place in the tournament standings with five points, pending the result of the Sky Blue FC match against the North Carolina Courage on Monday at 7:30 p.m. PT.
“I think these games (against Portland) are always good games,” OL Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock said. “Regardless of whether we have fans or anything. Today especially, Portland needed to win to get off the bottom and we knew that we didn’t want to lose. I think that was the type of game that you saw today. I’m proud of the girls. We had three days less rest (than Portland) coming into this, we played four games that were really tough. To finish with that attitude, mentality and that vital point was huge for us.”
The draw marked the return of Jess Fishlock and her first competitive minutes since suffering a season-ending ACL tear last June. The midfielder found herself playing up top to close out the match after replacing striker Jodie Taylor in the 73rd minute.
“Our whole plan this tournament was to not rush me into the games,” Fishlock said. “Playing here on turf we didn’t want to do that, but we wanted me to be available for the knockout stages. It was just about getting me that time. I think coming in today was tactical, we wanted to be able to put a little more pressure on higher up.”
Fishlock finished without a shot, but helped direct traffic to the wings as OL Reign pushed for a late game-winner.
The match also marked the club debuts of Sofia Huerta and Adrienne Jordan. Huerta started the match and played 58 minutes, recording two shots, while Jordan subbed on for defender Celia Jiménez Delgado and helped the back line shut down Portland’s attack for the final 17 minutes of the match.
OL Reign kept its third clean sheet of the tournament and keeper Michelle Betos kept her second. Betos, who made her second consecutive start after anchoring the club in a 1-0 win over the Utah Royals on July 8. Betos made four saves in the draw to keep Portland off the board.
The draw means that Portland will finish the preliminary round at the bottom of the table, with three points and a 0-1-3 record.
OL Reign currently sits in third place and will remain there should Sky Blue lose to North Carolina on Monday evening. If Sky Blue beats or draws the defending league champions, OL Reign will drop into fourth place in the table.
The club wore its blue secondary jerseys for the first time in the tournament. In celebration and support of the LGBTQA community, the jerseys were emblazoned with rainbow numbers on the back. OL Reign placed the match-worn, team-signed jerseys on sale at halftime of the match to raise money for Tacoma’s Rainbow Center. The jerseys sold out in under 30 minutes, raising nearly $6,000 for Rainbow Center.
OL Reign will await the results of tonight’s match between Sky Blue FC and North Carolina Courage to determine its final placement in the Challenge Cup table and its opponent for the quarterfinal match. OL Reign can finish the preliminary round in either 3rd or 4th position, and could take on the Houston Dash, Utah Royals FC, or Chicago Red Stars in the quarterfinal game, which will be played on either Friday, July 17 or Saturday, July 18.