The Reign missed opportunities early but Jasmyne Spencer scored in the 44th minute and Jodie Taylor scored in the 70th minute in a 2-0 victory. Seattle is in second place in the National Women's Soccer League, three points ahead of Orlando.
The frustration was visibly mounting.
The Seattle Reign was dominating an inferior club in a game it really needed, but despite controlling the action and getting many chances, it just couldn’t seem to score, and it seemed destined that it would go into halftime in a scoreless draw with the Washington Spirit.
But that is when Allie Long and Jasmyne Spencer came to the rescue. Long sent a beautiful long pass that Spencer ran down behind defenders in the center of the box, and she laced a shot into the right corner of the net that Washington goalkeeper Didi Haracic had no chance to stop.
That goal, in the 44th minute, got the Reign started, then Jodie Taylor helped finish off Washington with a goal in the 70th minute in Seattle’s 2-0 victory Sunday night at Memorial Stadium before an announced crowd of 3,704.
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“It’s a whole different game, 1-0 instead of 0-0,” said Reign coach Vlatko Andonovski of Spencer’s goal.
For the Reign, the goal was part relief and all elation.
“Allie made a great pass and I was at the right place at the right time to finish,” Spencer said. “It was big time for me and the team. We had a number of chances, and it was great to score, especially right before the end of half. It’s nice to get rewarded for all the hard work you did.”
The Reign (9-4-6), which temporarily fell into a second-place tie in the NWSL standings when Orlando played to a draw earlier Sunday, now are three points ahead of the Pride and four points ahead of fourth-place Portland. North Carolina (15-1-4) is the runaway leader in the NWSL, 16 points ahead of the Reign.
On paper, there was no way to predict anything but a Seattle Reign victory.
Washington came into the game with a 2-12-4 record, but was 0-7-2 on the road. The Reign, meanwhile, trying to give itself some cushion as the second-place team in the NWSL standings, had a record of 5-1-2 at Memorial Stadium. And Seattle needed the victory after a two-game trip netted just one point: a 1-1 draw at Orlando on July 21 after a 1-0 loss at Chicago the week before.
But it became apparent that it would not be real easy. Megan Rapinoe, just back from national team duty, was the most dominant player in the first half. But when she received a great pass from Therese Nielsen on the right side of the box in the 37th minute, there was no one between Rapinoe and Haracic. When the shot went wide right, Rapinoe pulled her shirt over her head in frustration.
She had to wonder if the Reign would ever score in this game. Seven minutes later they did.
“It’s easy to say, ‘It’s just not going to be our day,” Andonovski said. “It’s our responsibility to make it our day … and we made it our day.”
The Reign then dominated the second half, converting again when Taylor converted a nice pass from Rapinoe by scoring from six yards out, That took away much of the suspense, but Seattle goalkeeper Lydia Williams had to make a brilliant diving save in the 80th minute to maintain her shutout.