OL Reign finally gets to play at home as it hosts Thorns

Jayda Evans

After a seven-month delay, the OL Reign will play a home match.

The Reign will host the Portland Thorns FC in a Cascadia derby on Saturday at Cheney Stadium. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, fans will not be permitted to attend. The match will air online via Twitch.

“It will be nice to finally have a match at home this year,” Reign coach Farid Benstiti said. “I wish we would be able to have the fans join us, as I know the players and I are thankful for their support. Even though we can’t play in front of them, we want to go out there and have a successful match and play our style.”

The National Women’s Soccer League postponed its season in March because of the pandemic. The Reign would’ve had their season opener in April.

The league played a Challenge Cup in Utah during the summer and designed a four-match Fall Series that put the Reign (0-1-1) on the road for the opening two games.

The Reign lost to the Thorns 4-1 at Providence Park in Portland last week. Portland midfielder Christine Sinclair, the sport’s all-time leading international goal scorer, led with a hat trick.

“We lost focus for a moment before halftime and the match changed a great deal for us,” Benstiti said. “I thought we had a very good start to the game. This time, I want us to keep that energy and momentum through the whole match.”

The Thorns (2-0-1) lead the NWSL standings and have a majority of their first-choice players to select. Benstiti, who was hired last winter, has used the Fall Series to play younger players and experiment with tactics.

Saturday’s match will again feature a new look as goalkeeper Michelle Betos underwent a meniscectomy on her knee earlier this month and is out for the final two games of the season.

“Although I’m disappointed to not be finishing up the Fall Series with the group, I know getting this procedure done was the right thing for me in this moment,” Betos said. “I pushed through the pain for a while and would have continued to, if that was in the best interest of the club and my teammates. However, after speaking with the technical and medical staff, we decided to have all eyes set on the 2021 season.”

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