OL Reign was a mystery heading into the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup, and on Saturday, they exited the tournament without really shaking off that status.
The Reign were bounced in the quarterfinals at the hands of the Chicago Red Stars, falling 4-3 in a penalty-kick shootout after a scoreless 90 minutes (and no extra time). They looked more dynamic on Saturday with Sofia Huerta starting at wide forward and Jess Fishlock starting for the first time in 2020, but they failed to score for the fourth time in five games at the Challenge Cup. Bethany Balcer’s late winner against the Utah Royals in the preliminary stage was the Reign’s only goal of the tournament. And despite long runs of possession in each match, OL Reign failed to create enough opportunities, with 0.88 expected goals (xG) through their first four games, per StatsBomb.
Reign head coach Farid Benstiti said after Saturday’s elimination that he believes he needs to find a striker to address the issue.
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