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The Week in Women’s Football: Seattle Reign meet Arsenal Ladies in history-making clash

This week we review the high profile Seattle Reign-Arsenal Ladies friendly match in Seattle on Thursday, May 26, 2016.

The much anticipated friendly between Seattle Reign and Arsenal Ladies, held at Seattle's Memorial Stadium under the shadow of the iconic Seattle Space Needle on May 26th, ended in a 1-1 draw.

It was the first ever match between a NWSL side and a WSL club and drew a solid crowd of 4,056.

Seattle took an early lead in the 17th minute when rookie midfielder Havana Solaun slotted a twenty-five yard pass through the midfield to the top of the box, where midfielder Lindsay Elston collected the pass. Arsenal's long-time Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper Emma Bryne stopped Elston but the ball bounced loose towards the left touchline and Beverly Yanez fired a tremendous shot from the left side of the 18-yard line into the top right corner of the goal with Bryne stranded.

Yanez played two seasons for INEC Kobe Leonessa in Japan, where she converted from a midfielder to a forward after winning a WPS Championship with Western New York Flash and a short spell in Finland. Yanez was a league Best 11 nominee last season after scoring 9 goals, following up on her 5 tallies in 2014. Yanez's exclusion from any U.S. National Team camp is a mystery to many followers of the game in the U.S. Though the Americans are packed at forward with Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn and Christen Press, Yanez brings a lot of tactical awareness and could add an interesting dimension with her ability on the wing and inside.

Arsenal tied the match in the 64th minute when Dutch international midfielder Danielle Van de Donk collided with Seattle defender Kendall Fletcher in the penalty box, earning Van de Donk a penalty. Spanish forward Natalie Pablos Sanchon scored the penalty under goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer, a second half sub for U.S. international Hope Solo, who played the first half.

Seattle's Welsh international Jessica Fishlock started the match—her first game since April 24 when she broke her left tibia—played for half an hour. Fishlock explained her early substitution: “What I didn't want to do was overplay tonight.

“All I needed from today's game was to see whether I was okay with tackling or jumping. So if I wasn't okay, then Sunday (the Reign plays at Portland in a regional derby) is out of the question. I played thirty minutes today and all of it seemed fine. This game was important for me from a personal perspective."

Seattle Reign head coach Laura Harvey and Scottish midfielder Kim Little came to Seattle from the English Super League side. Little was named BBC Women's Footballer of the Year for 2016 this week, winning out over 2015 Women's World Cup participants Gaelle Enganamouit of Cameroon, Amandine Henry of France (who is joining the Portland Thorns this summer) and Americans Carli Lloyd of the Houston Dash and Becky Sauerbrunn of FC Kansas City. Little was also a finalist for the first award in 2015, won by Nigerian and Arsenal Ladies forward Asisat Oshoala. The award rightfully depicts Little's importance to Scotland's rise in Europe to a major contender for a first ever international tournament spot at next summer's Euros, as well as her strong contribution to club sides in Scotland, England, the United States and Australia.

Arsenal won their 14th FA Cup earlier this month by defeating reigning Super League champion Chelsea 1-0 and currently sits mid-table in the WSL with a 2-1-2 (W-T-L) for 7 points and fifth place, 12 points behind undefeated leader Manchester City (19 points). The Reign are in a similar position to Arsenal, sitting sixth with a 2-3-1 record for 7 points, after winning the regular season title and falling in the league final to FC Kansas City the past two seasons.

For Arsenal, Jodie Taylor started for Arsenal after two NWSL seasons with Portland and Washington and attended college at Oregon State University. Spanish midfielder Vicky Losada played at Western New York Flash in 2014 before playing for Barcelona and then joining Arsenal last season to play for Pedro Martínez Losa, who was an assistant coach with the Flash in 2014. Wing back Alex Scott played three seasons in WPS—the previous professional league for women in the States—for the Boston Breakers from 2009-2011.

Match Lineup:

SEA: GK Hope Solo (45' Haley Kopmeyer), D Michelle Cruz, D Rachel Corsie (45' Kiersten Dallstream), D Lauren Barnes © (45' Elli Reed), D Carson Pickett, M Lindsay Elston, M Jessica Fishlock (32' Kendall Fletcher [87' McKenzie Karas] ), M Kim Little (45' Kathryn Bennett), F Beverly Yanez (45' Erica Shelton), F Paige Nielsen, F Havana Solaun

Substitutes Not Used: F Merritt Mathias

Head Coach: Laura Harvey

ARL: GK Emma Bryne (45' Sari van Veenendall), D Emma Mitchell, D Josephine Henning, D Jemma Rose M Vicky Losada, M Jordan Nobbs, M Leah Williamson (8' Alex Scott), M Marta Corredera (78' Chloe Kelly), M Dominique Janssen (45' Van de Donk), F Jodie Taylor (45' Natalia Pablos Sanchon), F Danielle Carter (45' Asisat Oshala)

Substitutes Not Used: F Katie McCabe

Head Coach: Pedro Martinez Losa

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribalfootball. His latest book is Beyond Bend it Like Beckham, on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter:@TimGrainey

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