Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan grabs the ball out of the air against OL Reign during the second half. (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
HERRIMAN, Utah — Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan saved Jasmyne Spencer’s breakaway attempt in the 85th minute, preserving a scoreless draw with OL Reign in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup opener for both teams at Zions Bank Stadium on Tuesday night.
Sheridan leapt to stop Bay Shore, N.Y. native Spencer’s shot in the first scoreless draw of the competition.
Reign is competing without the 2019 FIFA Best women’s player Megan Rapinoe, who opted out of the tournament. Sky Blue is without U.S. national team players Carly Lloyd and Mallory Pugh due to injuries.
The National Women’s Soccer League is the first professional team sport in the United States to resume during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reign had a decent 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 goalkeeper Casey Murphy.
The match served as the first appearance in a Sky Blue jersey for several players, including Midge Purce, McCall Zerboni, Ifeoma Onumonu, Evelyne Viens, and Jennifer Cudjoe. Viens and Cudjoe also made their professional debut. Freya Coombe made her debut as the squad’s full head coach after serving as the interim for the final five matches of 2019.
Sky Blue will meet Utah Royals FC in their second preliminary round matchup on Saturday, July 4 at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Reign had some big changes in the offseason. The team was purchased by OL Groupe, the parent company of French powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais, in December. In January, the club named Farid Benstiti coach to replace Vlatko Andonovski, who became the head coach of the U.S. national team.