SAN DIEGO — Saturday night’s NWSL Championship will feature two organized squads battling for the biggest trophy in the league. OL Reign and NJ/NY Gotham FC will square off at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego and each team has their advantages. Plenty of excitement will be reserved for former U.S. women’s nationla team players and two-time World Cup champions Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger as they play their final match, but how will the game be won? Fans can find out by tuning into the NWSL Championship on CBS.
So has the advantage on the pitch heading into the match? Let’s take a look:
- Aerial presence
- Annoyingly frustrating mid-block against opposition
- Rose Lavelle
- Emily Sonnett
- Sofia Huerta
The Seattle side have been at this moment twice before. Head coach Laura Harvey has had Reign veterans Jess Fishlock, Lauren Barnes, and Rapine alongside her for the journey when the club lost in 2014 and 2015. The quartet has been vocal in the lead-up to Saturday about how different the event feels now compared to back then. They’re also a different team on the pitch for this third championship appearance.
They look like a team getting stronger as the playoff rounds go on, with the ability to adjust on the fly, frustrating teams in a mid-block or taking advantage of space on the wings.
Harvey has typically lined up the team in a 4-2-3-1, featuring Sonnet in a defensive midfielder role with a double pivot. Sonnett has been a game-changer for the squad in their ability to win the ball in transition or off turnovers. The return of Lavelle has brought more opportunities along the right side with Huerta and Veronica Latsko — who has two game-winning playoff goals — and their ability to combine will be key during the final.
NJ/NY Gotham FC
- Pressing forced turnovers
- Possession through positioning
- Lynn Williams
- Midge Purce
- Esther Gonzalez
The east coast side are in their first NWSL Championship and got there with 2023 NWSL Coach of the Year Juan Carlos Amoros. The Madrid native has typically rolled out his players in a 4-3-3 with players committed to pressing and individual marking. It’s helped the team find success in the regular season, particularly in the playoffs.
Gonzalez was a midseason pickup for the club, but she’s had an immediate impact on the team, constantly looking for open spaces to capitalize on attacking chances. Purce and Williams’ constant efforts in pressing will help the team keep their preferred territory on the pitch.
“[Our defensive press] is definitely a strength. I think that because of our coaching staff, we are one of the most defensively organized teams in the league,” Purce said on media day. “We’re really disciplined, and that goes not just for the 11 that start but for everyone who sees the pitch and it’s definitely been key to us keeping the ball out and back in.”
How effective their counter-press will be against a stingy defensive OL Reign side will be the ultimate test. They will want to establish their tempo early in the game and keep Reign’s crossing at a minimum.
- Date: Saturday, Nov. 11 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Place: Snapdragon Stadium — San Diego, California
- TV: CBS