TUKWILA — After notching her third goal of the season Thursday at Starfire Stadium, Megan Rapinoe performed a samba dance while Reign FC teammates flocked to her.
It was a jig inspired by more than the Reign’s 1-0, sixth-minute lead against the Chicago Red Stars in an eventual 4-1 win. It symbolized the refreshed outlook of a once-beaten squad and the happy-go-lucky mindset that the team has brought into the last stretch of its inaugural season.
“It felt like things were really clicking,” Rapinoe said. “I think we were able to control the ball a lot more than we had in the past few games.”
Though results elsewhere in the National Women’s Soccer League have all but knocked the Reign out of playoff contention, Seattle exhibited why it’s been one of the league’s hottest teams after starting 0-9-2, winning for the fifth time in seven games.
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Rapinoe drove home the first goal of the contest when Red Stars goalkeeper Erin McLeod misinterpreted the path of her free kick in a crowded goal area and the ball trickled into the net.
The Reign’s second goal came off a 21st-minute penalty kick from Kaylyn Kyle. Both of Kyle’s goals this season have come from the penalty spot.
Rapinoe doubled her tally in the 68th minute, running onto a wayward back pass from Chicago’s Michelle Wenino, dribbling around McLeod and slotting the ball into an open net.
“She’s Megan Rapinoe, she just has quality,” Seattle coach Laura Harvey said. “She just sees the opportunity to create something. I think her two goals just sum up her game.”
The cheers that followed Rapinoe’s goal were dwarfed by those that came after an acrobatic effort from fellow U.S. national-team star Hope Solo. The goalkeeper thwarted Chicago’s best opportunity up to that point, saving Inka Grings’ 73rd-minute penalty kick.
Red Stars substitute Jennifer Hoy denied Solo the clean sheet, however, with a 74th-minute goal.
“The one disappointment is that we’re still letting in goals no matter how great we play, so that’s a little unfortunate,” Solo said.
Liz Bogus rounded out the scoring in the 83rd with her first goal of the season.
The Reign will meet the Red Stars again on Aug. 3 in Chicago, the two teams’ fourth matchup of the year.