Seattle’s OL Reign made the playoffs. Here’s how to root for them

So there’s a game coming up? When is it? Can I go?

Yes. The OL Reign are the No. 1 seed, meaning they didn’t have to play in the first round of the playoffs last weekend. Instead, they begin their postseason with the semifinals on Sunday, October 23 at Lumen Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. against the Kansas City Current in a win-or-go home. If they win, they travel to Washington, DC for the NWSL Championships the following Saturday, October 29th.

In their regular season meetings, OL Reign traded wins with Kansas City. OL Reign won the first meeting here in May while Kansas City took home the win in July. So, yes, home is important and we have it.

The team recently released more tickets for Sunday’s game, and aims to fill the lower shell of Lumen Field. We are assuming a possible participation of almost 20,000.

If you’d rather watch from the comfort of your own home, you’ll need to tune into CBS Sports Network either via cable, dish, or a streaming service like Paramount Plus or YouTube TV. If you want to listen instead, you’ll need a subscription to SiriusXM.

Wait, is it a game or a match?

There is no correct term. Whatever you decide to use, the fact remains that OL Reign is one win away from playing the league championship, and they need you and your friends to show up and cheer them on on Sunday.

Did they ever win the whole thing?

no The Reign has been part of the National Women’s Soccer League since its inaugural 2013 season and while they have won three NWSL Shields, awarded to the team finishing first at the end of the regular season, they have never won the NWSL Championship. Still, the club is considered one of the premier franchises in the league.

Should OL Reign advance to the NWSL Championship and win, then it will be exciting for the club, players and coaching staff to achieve the ultimate prize for a third time.

They said they were the #1 seed. What makes them so good?

First, let’s talk about how they got this seed. Only six of the league’s twelve teams make the playoffs. For most of the 22-game season, OL Reign sat in the middle of the standings. Then, in September, the team broke down in tears, winning three games in one week, all away, and finishing the regular season on top.

A trio of players have been at the club since day one: Megan Rapinoe (#15), Jess Fishlock (#10) and Lauren Barnes (#3) are known as the “Reign Originals” and are just as influential on the field as they are are clubhouse managers. Fishlock won the NWSL Most Valuable Player award last season and Barnes was named 2016 NWSL Defensive Player of the Year. And of course there’s Rapinoe, the two-time FIFA World Cup winner and the best FIFA player of 2019, so she was the best player in the world.

OL Reign’s greatest strength is probably its defense as the team has conceded the fewest goals in the league this season. On the other hand, they have chances to score: ten players have scored for the team this season.

Meanwhile, head coach Laura Harvey appears to be on a mission. She was the club’s first manager from 2013 to 2017, then returned mid-season last year after citing ‘unfinished business’ at the time.

So Megan Rapinoe is still on the team?

Yes, and still one of the star players. Her impact on the field is well documented, but this season she delivers at critical times. Since August, Rapinoe has either scored or provided an assist (meaning she matched a goalscorer) in all but one of OL Reign’s games.

Okay, what’s with the “OL”?

The Reign has gone through a few name changes over the years. From their inaugural season in 2013 through 2019, they were called Seattle Reign FC. Prior to the 2019 season, they relocated to Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium and rebranded as Reign FC. In January 2020, France-based OL Groupe acquired the team and renamed it OL Reign. OL Groupe is the corporate entity that owns both the men’s and women’s soccer team Olympique Lyonnais based in Lyon, France, both of which have won their fair share of trophies and produced some very fine soccer players.

And do they always play in Lumen Field? I thought you moved to Tacoma?

They always play at Lumen now. When OL Groupe acquired the club from Bill and Teresa Predmore in 2020, the goal was to build a soccer-specific stadium in Tacoma that they would share with Tacoma Defiance (Seattle Sounders FC’s development team), but slowed the COVID-19 pandemic all. The team needed an immediate stadium solution because Cheney Stadium was no longer up to league standards, so the stadium project was shelved. Instead, the club has returned to Seattle and moved to sprawling Lumen Field, which is also home to the Sounders and Seahawks.

For their first season at Lumen, the seating configuration was conservatively set at 10,000 and regular season attendance averaged 6,844. The team has the ability to open more sections if demand requires it. Three times this year, OL Reign set new attendance records for singles games at Lumen Field: First, they drew 7,519 in July, breaking the existing club record of 7,479. That record was broken the following week with 9,032. The regular season finale earlier this month set a new record with 10,746 participants.

Incidentally, the NWSL’s single-game attendance record was set again in September by San Diego Wave FC during a regular-season game that drew 32,000 fans. Last weekend San Diego had 26,215 in their playoff game.

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