OL Reign and Sky Blue play to scoreless draw

HERRIMAN, UTAH (AP) – Sky Blue played to a scoreless draw with OL Reign on Tuesday night in the National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL) Challenge Cup tournament.

Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan leapt to stop Jasmyne Spencer’s breakaway attempt in the 85th minute, preserving the draw in the tournament opener for both teams.

The Reign are playing the Challenge Cup without Megan Rapinoe, who opted out of the tournament. Sky Blue is without national team players Carly Lloyd and Mallory Pugh because of injuries. The NWSL is the first professional team sport in the United States (US) to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Reign had a good chance in the 57th minute when Darian Jenkins’ header off a feed from Bethany Balcer went just wide of the left post.

Sky Blue’s Elizabeth Eddy got a good look in the 71st minute that was scooped up by Reign goalkeeper Casey Murphy.

Sky Blue FC forward Midge Purce and OL Reign forward Darian Jenkins vie for the ball during the first half of an NWSL Challenge Cup football match at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. PHOTO: AP

There were big changes for the Reign in the offseason. They were purchased by OL Groupe, the parent company of French powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais, in December.

In January, the team named Farid Benstiti coach to replace Vlatko Andonovski, who became the head coach of the US national team.

The Utah Royals played to a 3-3 draw with the Houston Dash in the earlier game on Tuesday. The eight teams playing in the tournament will play four group games to determine seeding for the quarterfinals.

Nearly all the players on both teams took a knee when the national anthem played before the game. The majority of the NWSL’s players have been kneeling during the anthem. Additionally, players have worn Black Lives Matter T-shirts during warmups and observed a moment of silence before each kickoff.