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Match Forecast: OL Reign Face Sky Blue FC to Begin NWSL Challenge Cup Campaign

June 29, 2020 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) - OL Reign News Release

OL Reign will begin the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, presented by P&G and Secret, when the club faces Sky Blue FC in the preliminary round on Tuesday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m. PT. The club was 1-1-1 against Sky Blue in three league meetings last season.

"We finally have a chance to play real football again," OL Reign head coach Farid Benstiti said. "This is exciting, both for the players and the coaches. We had a very good preseason in Montana, where we had to work quickly to become unified as a team, but I think we have been successful. I am looking forward getting started against Sky Blue."

OL Reign Fully-Loaded for NWSL Challenge Cup

OL Reign unveiled its 28-player roster for the tournament on Tuesday, June 23. The full contingent of players includes 16 returning players from 2019 and 12 new signings, including Alana Cook, who joined on a short term loan from PSG; forward Sofia Huerta and defender Amber Brooks, both of whom were acquired in an offseason trade with the Houston Dash; Costa Rican international midfielder Shirley Cruz; midfielder Dani Weatherholt, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Orlando Pride; Japanese international forward Nicole Momiki; defender Adrienne Jordan; and midfielder Kelcie Hedge, the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft.

"We are feeling good about the squad we've assembled for the tournament," said OL Reign CEO Bill Predmore. "We have a strong core of experienced players surrounded by a group of extremely talented young players. Together, we believe they'll give us the balance, depth, and quality needed to succeed at the Challenge Cup. The time together in Montana has been incredibly valuable given the many changes to the squad. Farid has done a great job bringing the group together, so we are excited to see how the team performs in Utah."

The Challenge Cup Explained

The 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup will see eight of the league's teams compete in 23 matches across 30 days in Salt Lake City, Utah. Following the Orlando Pride's withdrawal from the tournament on Monday, June 22, the club announced its new schedule for its four preliminary round matches, including Tuesday's contest against Sky Blue.

At the end of the preliminary round, teams will be seeded into their quarterfinal matches based on the league table. The knockout rounds will be played as single elimination contests, with teams proceeding directly to kicks from the penalty mark to determine who will advance should any match end in a draw.

During the tournament, each team will be allowed to make up to five substitutions per match and all players on a club's tournament roster are eligible for each match. Those five substitutions, however, must be made in no more than three stoppages in play.

New Year, New Threads

OL Reign unveiled its new primary and secondary kits on Thursday, June 25 in a virtual celebration with season ticket members. The kits are the club's first since announcing its new branding and identity on March 6.

"I love our all-white kits this year," captain Lauren Barnes said. "The cut and color are super classy and the flash of the iconic OL red down the sides makes for an elegant look." 

The shade of blue on this kit is very cool for me, because I've never gotten to wear this color before," Momiki said. "I'm so excited to wear this on the field."

Primary kits may be purchased on the OL Reign online store in women's, men's and youth sizes and are available for preorder. Secondary kits may be purchased in women's, men's and youth sizes and are also available for preorder online.

Scouting Sky Blue

Sky Blue FC has made some big changes since the conclusion of the 2019 season. Head coach Freya Coomb had the interim tag removed from her title in December and the club has pushed hard to bring in new talent to improve on their 5-14-5 record from last year. The club has brought in forwards Midge Purce and former OL Reign player Ifeoma Onumonu, along with drafting Canadian allocated forward Evelyn Viens in the first round.

Still, the New Jersey side will be dealing with several notable absences due to injury. Last year's leading goal scorer Carli Lloyd wasn't able to make the club's tournament roster due to injury, nor was U.S. Women's National Team forward Mallory Pugh, for whom the club made a high-profile draft day trade. The club will also be without defender Caprice Dydasco, who tore her ACL in training last week.

Sky Blue won the most recent encounter between the two clubs, coming away with a 1-0 victory at Cheney Stadium last September. Prior to that match, OL Reign was 5-2-3 against Sky Blue over their previous 10 meetings.

MultiCare Injury Report

Midfielder Jess Fishlock will be unavailable for Tuesday's match due to a minor injury to her lower right leg.

How to Watch

Fans in the U.S. and Canada can watch every match of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup on CBS All Access. International fans can watch the match live on the league's official Twitch channel.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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