The Seattle Reign swarmed the Orlando Pride from the opening kickoff with high pressure and decisive and accurate ball movement and it showed in the final score, with the hosts claiming a 5-2 victory to even the season series at a game apiece. A season-high Seattle crowd of 5,103 saw a lot of offense in what will go down as the most lopsided loss of the Pride's opening season to date.
With Hope Solo out, the Pride (6-8-0, 18 points) would have done well to get shots on backup goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer, but with the Reign's relentless pressure and a lot of careless giveaways in the midfield, Orlando never got many opportunities to do that. The Pride got two good scoring chances and beat Kopmeyer both times. They simply couldn't sustain enough possession to create those kinds of chances.
But, however large the Reign lead grew, the Pride never stopped battling when it would have been so easy to do so. Jasmyne Spencer and Kristen Edmonds continued their outstanding seasons with the two Orlando goals, both off fantastic service from Jamia Fields and Sarah Hagen, respectively. However, that wasn't enough to counter Seattle's offensive fireworks.
Those started 21 minutes in with Kim Little scoring from the penalty spot after a Dani Weatherholt foul in the box. The Pride had just cleared out a corner and the second ball in appeared to find an offside player but the flag stayed down and the foul provided the Reign's Little an easy opportunity. Little sent Kaitlyn Savage the wrong direction and made it 1-0 to Seattle (5-4-5, 20 points).
The first half continued as one-way traffic toward Savage's goal as the Reign's high press gave Orlando fits and made life difficult for the Pride trying to play the ball out from the back. Giveaways in the defensive half kept Savage under pressure and in the 30th minute the Reign doubled their lead off a set piece. Nahomi Kawasumi's ball in was initially dealt with by the defense, but as it sat in the box, no defender could locate it. Jessica Fishlock did, and she blasted a shot past Savage to make it 2-0.
Manon Melis nearly made it three just three minutes after Fishlock's goal but Savage came off her line for a save-of-the-week type play to smother the close-range shot. Kawasumi got behind the defense in the 37th minute but didn't get all of her shot and Savage was able to collect.
Orlando finally got an opportunity in the 38th minute. Christina Burkenroad got to a loose ball on the end line after Kopmeyer came out to deal with a ball over the top. Burkenroad sent in an effort from a bad angle that defender Kendall Fletcher cleared off the line, with Spencer bearing down on goal from the other side. That was the last good chance for either side and Seattle took a 2-0 advantage into the break.
That lead bulged to 3-0 just moments after the second-half kickoff. Cami Levin muffed a header on a cross into the box and it deflected straight to Melis, who tapped it into the net in the 47th minute.
The Pride finally struck back in the 52nd. Fields sent a perfect curling ball from the right sideline that Spencer one-timed past Kopmeyer to get Orlando on the board, making it 3-1. But the good feels from that tally didn't last long.
Sam Witteman was forced into a vital sliding tackle in the box to prevent a Melis goal in the 56th. On the resulting corner kick Fletcher made a near-post run and got her head to Kawasumi's cross, beating Savage high to the short side and making it 4-1.
Tom Sermanni called on Becky Edwards, Sarah Hagen and Leah Fortune, taking off rookies Burkenroad, Weatherholt, and Witteman. The Pride continued to fight, with Edmonds making a great hustle play down the right flank to earn a corner in the 67th and Spencer did the same down the left side two minutes later. But the Pride could get nothing off its set pieces.
In the 72nd, Kaylyn Kyle and Toni Pressley both had chances off corners but neither could get a clean shot.
Seattle, meanwhile, never sat back. The Reign continued to attack relentlessly. Merritt Mathias missed just wide in the 75th minute, and Levin got just a toe on Kawasumi's cross three minutes later to prevent a scoring chance. Bev Yanez got behind the Orlando defense in the 83rd but shot right at Savage.
All of that pressure eventually resulted in a Pressley own-goal in the 87th, as she stuck out a left foot to block a cross and it deflected just inside Savage's goal post to make it 5-1.
Once again the Pride kept fighting. Hagen sent in a beautiful through ball to Edmonds two minutes after the own-goal and Kristen buried her fourth goal of the year past Kopmeyer to make it 5-2.
The final action of the game again saw Seattle on the front foot. The Reign won a free kick just above the box and Kawasumi's free kick smashed off the crossbar. The rebound fell for Mathias, who shot just wide before the final whistle blew.
The Pride, who are now 1-2 since the international players left for Olympic duty, fell to seventh place in the NWSL standings, but are still just four points behind the final playoff spot. They will try to snap their two-game losing streak Sunday on the road against the Boston Breakers at 6 p.m.