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In 2022, OL Reign topped the Nationwide Ladies’s Soccer League common season standings. Whereas they did not comply with up that NWSL Defend win with a championship, their marketing campaign was profitable and relied on protection. The Reign conceded simply 19 targets, fewer than every other crew within the league. Solely the San Diego Wave, led by Casey Stoney, got here near that document.
This was not a case of particular person performances, of defenders making essential saves or leaning on the goalkeeper for constant saves. It was a collective effort: no crew conceded fewer photographs than the Reign. Laura Harvey, in her first yr in control of the membership, applied essentially the most organized protection within the NWSL. And he or she did it with a fairly distinctive system.
Harvey introduced a larger emphasis on the defensive aspect of issues than in previous seasons. In 2021, the Reign have been essentially the most ‘possession based mostly’ crew within the league. Nevertheless, final yr, his possession share dropped by 4 p.c, in response to ref.FB knowledge. There was much less fluidity and fewer dedication to enjoying quick from behind and as a substitute extra give attention to urgent.
The Reign have been repeatedly arrange in a defensive 4-2-4 system, however what separated it from a basic 4-4-2 was the place of the wingers, who have been extra aligned with the 2 forwards than the midfield. The presence of 4 gamers within the first line of protection elevated their possibilities of placing stress on opposing centre-backs, on the identical time rising their capability to cowl opposing midfielders. By setting themselves up like this, the Reign made it tough for his or her opposition to regulate play on the ball.
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Breaking down OL Reign’s tough to beat 4-2-4 defensive system – Equalizer Soccer