Off the back of the Challenge Cup, which saw North Carolina Courage come out on top, the NWSL season is fully underway now. OL were one of the semi-finalists and they only missed out on a spot in the final after a painstaking penalty shoot-out against the Washington Spirit. OL Reign have had a decent start to the campaign and they will look to continue their unbeaten streak with a trip to Chicago.
NWSL: OL Reign haven’t lost since the opening day
Their respective seasons so far
As was alluded to, OL Reign have begun 2022 pretty well. They lost 2-1 to Washington on the opening day thanks to goals from the two Ashleys, Hatch and Sanchez. Since then, they remain unbeaten in the NWSL.
USWNT star Rose Lavelle scored the goal in that defeat to the Spirit and she was also on target in their last outing. Lavelle’s diving header was the only goal in a win over the San Diego Wave, her second of the season. After conceding twice in their first two games, OL Reign haven’t shipped a goal for 360 minutes since.
The Red Stars on the other half have been particularly porous at the back with four games in the books. Chris Petrucelli’s side haven’t kept a clean sheet, three of the four seeing them concede two goals.
Chicago began the season with a 2-1 win over Racing Louisville before then losing by the same score line to San Diego. A Mallory Pugh brace in Orlando at Exploria Stadium was the headline from a six-goal thriller vs the Pride. Most recently, Pugh was again on target, opening the scoring versus the Thorns. In a back-and-forth match, the spoils were shared on home soil.
The history of this fixture
OL Reign and the Red Stars first met back in 2014, the former prevailing by three-goals-to-one. Excluding the Challenge Cup and focusing on the NWSL solely, there have been nineteen clashes between the pair. The last draw came in 2018 and since then, they have won three a-piece.
When this fixture took place last, in the October of 2021, OL Reign won edged the Red Stars out, coming from behind to win 3-2. It was Mallory Pugh who started the scoring before Laura Harvey’s rampant side put on a fine display. Lavelle netted but not before Welsh midfielder Jess Fishlock bagged a brace. Fishlock won MVP last year but has since taken a step back, now operating as a player and a coach for the Seattle side.
Kim Little is the newest addition to the OL Reign ranks
Talking of individuals and a lot of the chatter surrounding OL Reign is the arrival of Kim Little. Following the conclusion of the WSL season, in which Arsenal finished runners-up to Chelsea, Little has made the move Stateside on a short-term deal. The Scot previously played in the state of Washington from 2014 to 2016, when they were known as the Seattle Reign.
Little is a very experienced midfielder and will bring a lot to Laura Harvey’s ranks. “Kim will go down in history as one of the best players to ever play in the National Women’s Soccer League,” is the official line from her new manager. The 31-year-old will only be in the US until August but she can still make a great difference in this time period. A trio of Fishlock, Lavelle and Little on the Lumen Field surface promises to be superb.
OL Reign are a defensive unit whilst Chicago have proven to be an attacking powerhouse. It will be a battle at both ends of the pitch with neither wanting to have a second defeat added to their column. Who will prevail, Mal Pugh or her international teammate Rose Lavelle?