Preseason: OL Reign vs. USWNT U23s

Bethany Balcer

It was 47 degrees and rainy in a quintessential Oregon winter day. OL Reign dominated the USWNT U23s through 90, ending with a 3-nil win. Bethany Balcer ended the match with a brace, Alana Cook and Sofia Huerta assisting in the 16th and 32nd minutes respectively. The Reign’s third goal came in the second half with an unfortunate own goal by the U23s in the 57th minute.

Bethany Balcer had a brace Sunday evening against the U23s

Reign Takeaways

Last year, the Reign attack was synonymous with a high press and as head coach Laura Harvey said before a late regular season match against Orlando, “I hope they let us press. Not sure if they will. I always prepare for both if we can or not… I think it’s becoming renowned that we’re good at pressing, so I want to try and keep that a little bit of a secret, if we could, that would be great.”

The secret is definitely out by now, but considering the tight turnaround for the U23’s coming together as a team and playing in this tournament, it’s no surprise that they slightly struggled to handle the press in the first half. During halftime the U23s made some good adjustments to better absorb the pressure, and other than the devastating own goal, held their own against the Reign attack. Overall, the high press was able to keep the U23s pinned back in their own half for the majority of the match.

Emily Sonnett
Emily Sonnett

A surprise in the Reign’s starting XI was Emily Sonnett playing the six. The even bigger surprise was how natural she looked in the position. As a defender whose versatility has her usually playing centerback in league-play and outside-back with the USWNT, the move to the six isn’t that big of a leap. One other interesting thing that happened was that when one of the outside backs pushed super high, Sonnett cycled back to cover.

There were a few moments of miscommunication between Reign members whether that be two defenders, two people on the attack, or between defender and goalkeeper, but those are normal for preseason and ideally by the end of the tournament, those are minimal. The Reign will have a bigger test in their final two matches of the preseason tournament when they take on Racing Louisville and the Portland Thorns.

U23’s Takeaways

Although the Reign contained most of the U23’s attacks with the high press, allowing just 2 shots, there was some success from the U23s using their speed along the wings to get in behind the Reign backline. The strength of the Reign backline and the…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at NWSL Archives – Beautiful Game Network…