Vlatko Andonovski added two pacey pieces to his attack during the most recent offseason, acquiring Shea Groom and Darian Jenkins via trade. After a season with Sky Blue FC, Groom was moved to the Reign, reunited the forward with her former coach at FC Kansas City. Jenkins, a second-year player, made the trip cross-country from the North Carolina Courage. Both players provide speed to the offensive end, while Groom is known for her gritty style.
Reign FC kicked off the 2019 NWSL season with a point against the Houston Dash. Darian Jenkins’ goal in the second half cancelled out a Nichelle Prince opener to ensure a share of the spoils for both clubs. Despite the point, the Reign lost former Pride forward Jasmyne Spencer mid-match after she suffered a season-ending ACL injury, while Megan Rapinoe and Steph Catley - also a former Pride player - are listed as questionable for the Sunday matchup.
The Reign finished third in the NWSL last season, only a point behind runner-up Portland Thorns FC. With a nearly full retainment of their roster will have the Reign hopeful they can repeat, if not improve upon, last season’s finish.
It is still early on in the season, one player the Pride will have to look out for is Jodie Taylor. An England international, Taylor won the Golden Boot for her club in the 2018 season, leading all scorers with nine. Her ability to make runs behind the line is something the Pride defense will definitely need to keep an eye on.
Matches between these two sides are nothing if not even. So even, in fact, the last five matches have all ended in draws. Neither team has taken all three points from a meeting since the 2016 season, when each side had one win on the season. Since 2017, games between the Pride and Reign have seen four 1-1 finishes and a single 0-0 stalemate.
Rasmussen College Fun Fact
The Reign will have a new home for the 2019 NWSL season. Dropping “Seattle” from its name and rebranded as just “Reign FC,” the side will play all future home games 40 minutes south in Tacoma at Cheney Stadium. With the move, the Reign will become the first NWSL team to have its permanent home field at a baseball park.
However, Sunday’s home opener will be the second-ever NWSL match played on a baseball field. In 2016, the Reign fell, 3-2, to the Western New York Flash at Frontier Field.