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Why Angel City’s tactical risks didn’t pay off against OL Reign in NWSL playoffs

Angel City FC forward Claire Emslie dribbles the ball as two OL Reign defenders close down her space.
(Photo Copyright Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports)

Two philosophies were on display on Friday night in Seattle as OL Reign defeated Angel City FC 1-0 in a National Women’s Soccer League playoff quarterfinal. On one side of the touchline, you had OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey, who had recently transformed her pulse-quickening team into a reactive group defending deep in its own half, scratching its head at how to create chances in open play.

On the other side, you had Angel City interim head coach Becki Tweed, who was tossed into the deep end midway through the season after Freya Coombe was fired. Six wins, four draws and one loss later, Angel City made the playoffs while never giving opponents the same tactical look.

Both coaches played the hits on Friday: Harvey kept her side’s deep reactivity, while Tweed played another tactical card. In the end, the coach who stayed the course pulled out the victory.

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