By MIKE McCALL
Seattle’s late push for the playoffs is improbable at best, but the Reign couldn’t have drawn up a better weekend than this one.
Playing in the first nationally televised National Women’s Soccer League game, the Reign booked its first home sellout, ran its unbeaten streak to six games, and — best of all — gained a full two points on all six teams ahead of it in the standings.
That feat came courtesy of three draws in the rest of the league’s action, and for a closer look, here’s a complete rundown along with our updated Power Rankings.
BREAKERS, SBFC FINISH SCORELESS
As the team just on the outside of the playoff bubble, Boston can’t afford to drop many points the rest of the way. While this weekend didn’t bring a win, going to the league leaders’ house and coming away with a draw can be forgiven.
The Breakers and Sky Blue FC finished even at 0-0, with Boston’s Ashley Phillips stopping all five SBFC shots on goal while her counterpart, Brittany Cameron, kept a clean sheet against three shots on goal.
SBFC seems a lock for the playoffs, but Boston has plenty of work left to do. Currently sitting four points behind the Western New York Flash, the Breakers will play six of their final seven games against teams currently in the top four.
WAMBACH SCORES AS FLASH DRAW THORNS
For all the attacking flair on display — 34 shots in all — it was a two-minute span that settled a 1-1 draw between the Flash and Thorns in Portland.
Abby Wambach scored her ninth goal of the season in the 38th minute, but Meleana Shim equalized right after to bring host Portland level.
It was an important opportunity lost for both teams, as Western New York could have put more distance between itself and Boston, and the Thorns had a chance to pull closer to the No. 1 spot. Portland is four points back of SBFC with a game in hand.
RED STARS RESCUE POINT LATE IN THRILLER
When Erika Tymrak scored to give FC Kansas City a 3-1 lead in the 87th minute, it would have been understandable to write off host Chicago Red Stars.
But Ella Masar and Lori Chalupny didn’t get the message. Masar scored in the 90th minute, then assisted on Chalupny’s equalizer in the sixth minute of stoppage time — pulling out a 3-3 draw right at the death.
Every point is huge for the Red Stars at this stage, sitting five points back of the Flash with a game in hand. If they do find their way into the playoffs, the Masar/Chalupny miracle will surely be remembered as one of the moments that got them there.
REIGN KEEP ROLLING
Jessica McDonald scored twice in the first half, erasing an early Washington Spirit goal to earn Seattle a 2-1 victory in front of a sold-out crowd at Starfire Stadium and a national television audience on Fox Soccer.
The Spirit’s Diana Matheson knocked in her sixth goal of the year with yet another penalty kick in the 11th minute, but McDonald followed up in the 30th and 34th, with assists from Christine Nairn and Elli Reed.
While the Spirit continue their tailspin at the bottom of the standings, the Reign have 14 points from their last six games and are eyeing what had once seemed an impossible playoff run. They’re now nine points behind the Flash with six to play.
SBI NWSL POWER RANKINGS
Here’s how they stand:
1. Seattle Reign FC (4-9-3, 15 pts) – Simply put, they’re the team no one wants to face right now. | (Last week: 5)
2. Sky Blue FC (9-3-4, 31 pts) – Their pace has slowed, but they keep putting points on the board. | (1)
3. Boston Breakers (5-5-5, 20 pts) – Boston keeps taking points from very tough opponents. | (2)
4. FC Kansas City (7-4-5, 26 pts) – The late collapse in Chicago was troubling, but FCKC is in great shape for a playoff run. | (3)
5. Chicago Red Stars (5-6-4, 19 pts) – The Red Stars just won’t go away, though its unfortunate they have no games left against the Breakers or Flash. | (6)
6. Western NY Flash (6-4-6, 24 pts) – Recent struggles aside, you get the feeling that as long as the Flash make the playoffs, they might just be the team to beat. | (4)
7. Portland Thorns FC (8-4-3, 27 pts) – Two points from their last four puts the Thorns among the clubs in worst form right now. | (7)
8. Washington Spirit (1-10-4, 7 pts) – Sad Face. Another defeat. | (8)
What do you think? Can Seattle do it? Does Boston or Chicago wiggle its way into the playoffs? Will Portland get back on track?
Share your thoughts below.