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It's rivalry week: Reign vs. Portland

Photo provided by Reign FC

For the first of three meetings this season, Seattle Reign FC is prepping to face off against rivals Portland Thorns FC at 7 p.m. Saturday. This will be the only match between the two sides at Providence Park, a stadium known for presenting a difficult atmosphere for visiting teams.

“It’s one of best places to go and play, and the rivalry between the two teams adds an extra spice,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach and general manager Laura Harvey. “That’s what we play the game for, is to be involved in environments like that. They’re the games that you remember.”

One of the club’s leading goal scorers against Portland is forward Beverly Yanez, who has scored three goals all-time when playing Thorns FC. Yanez feels this weekend’s match isn’t important just because it’s a rivalry match, but also to get back on track after last weekend’s result.

“Portland is always big,” said Yanez. “They’re our crosstown rivals and it’s always a good game. It’s really important to us to bounce back from this weekend. We want to show what we can do and continue to be a team to beat.”

While the environment for visiting teams at Providence Park can be unwelcoming, Yanez has always found the crowd motivating.

“It’s a big atmosphere and a fun atmosphere,” said Yanez. “It’s one that you want to compete in and one we want to do well in. We want to go out there and show the crowd what we are capable of here in Seattle.”

While veteran players like Yanez know what to expect when the Pacific Northwest rivals face off, it will be uncharted waters for rookie Kristen McNabb. While McNabb has started and played the full 90 in all three matches this season, she has yet to experience the full-fledged rivalry Seattle and Portland share.

“I’ve never played in front of a crowd that big.” said McNabb. “I’m so excited because I’ve heard so much about it. I can’t wait to see the stadium and take part in such a great rivalry.”

Another challenge for McNabb will be competing against her former college teammates Emily Sonnett and Meghan Cox. During their time at the University of Virginia, the trio were part of a stout Cavalier defense that made the NCAA National Championship game in 2014.

“We were all on the same backline for three years so it’s definitely going to be weird,” said McNabb. “No smack talk yet but we have been talking all week. I’ve been telling them ‘I just hope I don’t have to mark you.’ But if I have to they aren’t scoring.”

Keeping the Thorns off the scoresheet will be an important piece of the puzzle for a Reign FC team looking to head into Portland and make a statement. Should Seattle win, the all-time series between the two teams would be an even 6–6–2.

“These are the games in the schedule that you pick out as ones you want to be part of, for obvious reasons,” said Harvey. “There’s a great rivalry and great respect between the two teams. We know if we stick to the game plan we always believe we can get a result down there.”

Reign FC return to Memorial Stadium on Saturday, May 13 when they host the Washington Spirit. Single match tickets and VIP experience packages are available. To purchase tickets, visit reignfc.com/tickets or call the Reign FC ticket office at (855) REIGN-FC.

(This content was provided by Reign FC.)

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