Christine Nairn’s 82nd minute finish gave Seattle Reign FC a 3-2 victory over Western New York Flash in front of 2,514 Thursday night at Starfire Stadium. The Reign are now unbeaten in five matches since Megan Rapinoe joined the team, while the Flash are winless in three July matches after being undefeated through May and June.
The high goal count was a product of some sloppy defending and a fortuitous penalty call but there was nothing but quality in Nairn’s game-winner. A defensive throw-in started the play with Keelin Winters and Liz Bogus creating space before Bogus played it to Elli Reed. The right back put up a perfect, far-post cross that landed right at Nairn’s feet and the rookie did not miss on the redirect for her 3rd goal of the season and second game-winner.
The assist was Reed’s first in NWSL but she was not done putting her stamp on the night. An 88th minute free kick by the Flash went off Abby Wambach’s head and the ball by Jodi-Ann Robinson would have been a tap-in for Veronica Perez had Reed not arrived first and cleared out of danger.
The Reign had the better of the early possession but it was the Flash who struck first on a 10th minute counter attack. Brittany Taylor played a ball from her own penalty area that cleared everyone. Wambach slipped between center backs Kaylyn Kyle and Lauren Barnes to win the race to the ball before beating an aggressive Hope Solo with her second touch.
The Reign cancelled out Wambach’s goal in the 14th minute. Nairn played the ball into the box where Jessica McDonald laid it off for Jessica Fishlock. The Welsh international finished with her left foot to the far post for her team-leading 4th of the season.
Ten minutes later, Adrianna Franch showed the best and worst she has to offer as a talented, rookie goalkeeper. She got caught too high off her line and Megan Rapinoe snuffed it out and sent a well-meant chip that had Franch beat before she raced back to knock it just wide of the near post.
Another Franch error, in the dying moments of the half, allowed the Reign to get on the front foot. Hesitating after a ball came her way off the foot of Alex Sahlen, Franch gave it away to Rapinoe, who calmly curled it into the upper, far corner to make it 2-1 Reign.
The Flash were gifted the goal right back less than 90 seconds into the second half. Kyle was judged to have pulled Wambach down in the penalty area to give the visitors a penalty. Hope Solo tried her best to get in Wambach’s head, stalling long enough to see a yellow card but the all-time international goal scorer calmly beat her U.S. teammate for her ninth goal of the season and second of the match. The only saving grace for the Reign was that Kyle was spared a card, which would have meant an automatic suspension for accumulation.
The Reign (3-9-3, 12 points) continue to play their best soccer of the season, something they will hope to put on display Sunday when they host the Washington Spirit in the first televised NWSL match (8:30 p.m. ET on Fox Soccer). The win also assures the Reign of not being eliminated from playoff contention this weekend.
The Flash (6-4-5, 23 points) missed a chance to take second place and will conclude their stretch of eight road matches in 10 when they visit Portland Thorns FC on Sunday.
— The Reign webcast teased a halftime player announcement through the entirety of the first half, but the intermission came and went with no announcement. It was not mentioned again.
— Samantha Kerr has not been quite the same returning from her first stint with Australia. She has also been asked to play higher in what has become a 4-3-3 and does not look as comfortable as earlier in the season when she was playing outside midfielder.
— The Reign still do not have a clean sheet this season. The Spirit are the only other team without one.
Watch the full replay:
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