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Houston Dash vs Seattle Reign: Three Questions with Sounder at Heart

We caught up with Susie from Sounder at Heart.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Dash play the Reign later today so we caught up with Susie to get the low down on the Reign.

DT: The Reign are currently just one point ahead of the Dash in the standings. How would you rate this season thus far compared to last year?

SR:If we're just looking at Seattle's record, the season began pretty similar to last year. The Reign often take a few games to learn how to make their possession-heavy game work best. However, this year's losses were more dramatic, with the Reign playing two of its worst matches in recent years against Sky Blue and Orlando. In many ways, this team feels like the same team that won back-to-back NWSL shields, but their inability to be dangerous in front of goal has been concerning. Despite dominating possession, Seattle just hasn't been able to find an offensive spark, which has been the most stark difference from last year.

DT: How has the loss of Jess Fishlock, due to injury, affect the team this year?
SR: Jess Fishlock is, perhaps, the Reign's most important player. She can quickly transition the team from absorbing pressure to unlocking an attack, and her energy level is irreplaceable. Not to mention, her and Kim Little play so well off one another. In Fishlock's absence, Little and Bev Yanez were both asked to play deeper. Little can play a defensive role well, but she lacks the energy of Fishlock to quickly spark an offensive attack from a deep position. Yanez is a great distributor and is familiar with the attacking midfield role, which she played in college, but she's more of a goal-scoring threat higher up the field. I'm optimistic that having Fishlock back will solve some of the offensive problems.

DT: The Reign just signed Rumi Utsugi, but she won't be joining the team until July. Do you think that just knowing that she is coming to join the team will affect the Reign players? Who will lose their starting spot once she arrives?
SR: Rumi Utsugi is an incredibly exciting signing for the Reign. Having another international player who will be unaffected by the Olympics is huge. I'm not sure how much players are thinking about her addition now, but fans are certainly brimming with excitement. It will be interesting to see where Utsugi fits in Laura Harvey's lineup. She can play both leftback and a defensive midfield position, and I could see either working for the team. If she moves into the midfield, she'd probably play as a holding midfielder alongside Keelin Winters, pushing both Jess Fishlock and Kim Little higher up the field. Getting Little closer to goal is always a good thing. This likely means someone along the front line loses their starting spot, perhaps Merritt Mathias once Manon Melis returns from injury.

You can check out my answers to Suzie's questions here.