Rapinoe and Long are vying for a spot on the U.S. roster for the Tournament of Nations, as expected, but the Reign is dealing with the unexpected — injuries — as it prepares for an important game Saturday against Orlando.
Nearing the end of its regular season, the Reign hoped for continuity.
Instead it’s still mixing up its lineup in an attempt to remain in the National Women’s Soccer League playoff race. This week, however, the team’s different lineup isn’t by choice.
As the Reign (8-4-5, 29 points) clings to second place in the NWSL standings, it’s preparing to play without four key players at Orlando (8-6-4, 28 points) on Saturday.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Reign coach Vlatko Andonovski said.
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Forward Megan Rapinoe and midfielder Allie Long were expected to miss a game in July to vie for a spot on the U.S. national team’s roster to compete in the Tournament of Nations from July 26 to Aug. 2. The two players were notified Wednesday they were named to the 25-player roster that will be cut to 23 players next week.
What the Reign didn’t anticipate was also still missing backup midfielders Elizabeth Addo (left knee) and Rumi Utsugi (left calf strain) to injuries. As of 11:30 a.m. Friday, the NWSL’s injury report listed Addo as out and Utsugi as questionable.
Orlando will also be without star players Ashlyn Harris (goalkeeper) and Alex Morgan (midfielder), who were also tapped by the national team.
The Reign has to adjust quickly to remain in the postseason race. It has a one-point lead on Orlando and Chicago (7-4-7, 28 points) for one of four playoff slots. North Carolina (14-1-3, 45 points) has earned the top seed.
A win against Orlando would give Seattle three points. But the teams ended in a draw in the previous two of the three-game series, earning just one point. Rapinoe and Long also missed a June match against the Pride due to national team obligations.
The Reign is 1-1-4 all-time against the Pride. Four of those games were before the Reign’s big offseason changes that brought in 13 new players and a new coaching staff.
“We’ve been going back-and-forth and are still analyzing the small details to see who we are going to step up with,” Andonovski said. “This is a very important game, and it’s unfortunate we don’t have our (complete) squad, (but) the fact that we are a good team and we try not to rely on individuals is what makes this group special.”