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Jodie Taylor brace clinches Seattle Reign spot in NWSL playoffs

SEATTLE – A pair of goals from Seattle Reign forward Jodie Taylor in the second half against the Houston Dash secured the club’s third trip to the NWSL playoffs and the first since 2015. Taylor’s two goals in the second half put the Houston Dash away, blunting the Texas club’s hopes of making the postseason.

Taylor helped the Reign grab the lead in the 58th minute, after a ball from Jasmyne Spencer found defender Theresa Nielsen in the right alley. Nielsen’s cross was met by Taylor at the front post after she created separation from Dash defender Janine van Wyk, fanning her shot to the far side of the net to give Seattle the advantage.

Taylor doubled the score three minutes later, picking up a pass from Megan Rapinoe in the middle of the field before turning into space and firing a long-range shot over the extended arms of Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell to score her ninth goal of the season.

The Reign kept their league-best 12th clean sheet of the season thanks to four saves from Lydia Williams, none more crucial than a stop on Houston’s Kealie Ohai in the 75th minute. A failed clearance from Seattle gave Ohai the ball in the penalty area, but Williams managed to deflect her shot with a free hand, before a secondary clearance from Reign defender Kristen McNabb bounced off the left post and into Williams’ hands to preserve the lead.

Seattle finished with a 16-12 advantage in shots against Houston, including an 8-4 lead in shots on goal. The Reign held the ball for 56.2 percent of the match.

With the victory, Seattle has secured a trip to the NWSL playoffs, maintaining its status in second place in the standings. The club needs to take two points from its final two matches (vs. North Carolina Aug. 25 and at Portland Sep. 7) to guarantee the second seed in the NWSL playoffs and home field advantage for an NWSL semifinal match.

The loss leaves Houston three spots back from the playoffs, three points shy of the Chicago Red Stars. Both Chicago and Portland, who occupy the third and fourth spots in the NWSL standings, have a game in hand against the Dash, who will now face pressure to win out to attempt to make the postseason.

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