NWSL Week Four: A Look Ahead

AdrianaMartin (ISIPhotos.com)

By MIKE McCALL

This weekend brings three more games in the National Women’s Soccer League, following up on the league’s first mid-week match, which was held on Wednesday.

And so we begin our look ahead with a quick look back, followed by a preview of Saturday’s NWSL action.

At last, the Western New York Flash (1-2-1) are on the board. They got their first win of the year with a 2-1 victory over Sky Blue FC last Wednesday, powered by a sixth-minute goal from Adriana and Abby Wambach’s tally in the 20th — a particularly bright sign after she missed last week with a head injury.

SBFC pulled one back just before the half when Kelley O’Hara assisted Sophie Schmidt, but it wasn’t quite enough. That squandered a chance to take the league lead for Sky Blue FC (2-1-0), which sits one point behind the Portland Thorns.

Now, on to this week’s matchups. As a side note, you can catch all three games online.

BOSTON BREAKERS vs. CHICAGO RED STARS (Saturday, 6 pm)

Both of these teams have only played two games thus far, and it’s a bit hard to know what to expect. But based on early results, the Breakers are the favorites. They drew with Washington, then topped the Flash behind a two-goal performance from Heather O’Reilly, who was named NWSL Player of the Week for the first brace in league history.

With Sydney Leroux also posing a threat, Boston looks like the better bet against a Chicago team that’s coming off a 2-0 loss to Portland and is without U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx, who underwent knee surgery this week.

WASHINGTON SPIRIT vs. PORTLAND THORNS FC (Saturday, 7 pm)

This one is a clash of strengths: the Thorns’ downright scary attacking duo of Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair against the Spirit’s Ali Krieger-led back line and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

With that said, the Spirit’s defense hasn’t been as stingy as expected, ranking second-worst in the league with five goals allowed in three games. They’ll look for a better performance at the back and a goal — keep an eye on midfielder Diana Matheson, who’s on a two-game scoring streak — to get their first win, while the Thorns go for three victories in a row. Portland forward Danielle Foxhoven is one to watch as well, after subbing on and scoring last week.

SEATTLE REIGN FC vs. FC KANSAS CITY (Saturday, 8 pm)

These two ought to be familiar with each other, since they just played last weekend. FC Kansas City took that one 2-0 at home, and now they’ll travel to Seattle to face the Reign, who could use a break.

In last place with two losses and a tie, the Reign are off to the league’s worst start, but in their home opener at Starfire Stadium, they’ll hope that goalkeeper Michelle Betos can hold down the net while midfielder Jessica Fishlock pushes forward. That’s easier said than done against FCKC, the most impressive team so far outside of Portland. The visitors have only played twice, but they’ve looked very solid, and young forward Renae Cuellar has scored in both matches.

Think Seattle gets its first win? Are you taking Portland’s attack or Washington’s defense? Do you see Boston as a contender?

Share your thoughts below.

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