NWSL Week 17: A Look Ahead

AlexMorganPortlandThorns1-FCKC (PortlandThorns)

By MIKE McCALL

There’s a first-place battle and a chance for all four playoff spots to be clinched in the National Women’s Soccer League this weekend — two days of matches that will go a long way to determining how the inaugural NWSL regular season wraps up.

At the top of the table, the upstart league leaders will travel to face their closest competitors in a nationally televised showdown, while three other teams will be fighting to keep their slim postseason hopes alive.

For more, here’s a closer look at the matchups (all times local).

CHICAGO RED STARS vs. SEATTLE REIGN (Saturday, 6 pm)

It’s a meeting of the two longest long-shots, as Seattle (5-10-3) needs to win its final four games along with four Western New York losses, while Chicago (6-7-5) is seven points out and in need of help from a few other teams.

If the Reign come away with anything less than three points, they’re out. And if the Red Stars lose while the Flash win, they’re out too.

A lot on the line for both squads here, but realistically, Seattle is out of the picture, and Chicago is a long way from a playoff contender.

BOSTON BREAKERS vs. WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH (Saturday, 6 pm)

The most straightforward of the matches with playoff implications. Boston (6-7-5) is seven points back of the Flash (8-4-6) with four games to play, but two of those are head to head.

If the Breakers lose this one, they’re out, and that would also make the odds much longer for Chicago. But with a win, they’d open the door to possibly having a chance to snatch a playoff spot during their next meeting on the last weekend of the season.

SKY BLUE FC vs. WASHINGTON SPIRIT (Saturday, 7 pm)

While all eyes are on the Flash to hold off the Breakers and Red Stars, Sky Blue FC (9-6-4) isn’t out of the woods yet. Once the league leaders, SBFC has fallen off the pace lately and could still wind up out of the playoffs by keeping up a recent run of poor form.

Fortunately for the club, this weekend brings a visit from Washington (1-13-4), which has managed just one point since the middle of May. With a victory, SBFC is playoff-bound.

PORTLAND THORNS vs. FC KANSAS CITY (Sunday, 5:30 pm)

It’d be a shock for either of these teams to miss the playoffs, so rather than finishing top four, this one is about who will take home the first regular season crown.

Based on recent results, FCKC (10-4-5) is in the driver’s seat. The club has three wins in a row and perhaps the league MVP in Lauren Holiday (formerly Lauren Cheney), who is tied for the NWSL lead with 10 goals.

On the other side, Portland (10-4-4) has been somewhat disappointing despite a solid record, not matching up to the largely unrealistic preseason hype. One match won’t be a cure-all, but the Thorns can make a big statement here. A win would vault them into first with a game in hand, putting them in a very strong position with only a few matches remaining.

Following Wednesday’s 3-1 win over SBFC and with the JELD-WEN Field crowd behind them, expect the Thorns to hold up their end of the bargain in a match that will be televised on Fox Soccer.

Who are your picks? Is this the week the Thorns take over? Can Boston and Chicago stay alive? Does SBFC climb to safety?

Share your thoughts below.

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9 Responses to NWSL Week 17: A Look Ahead

  1. RB says:

    Unfortunately it seems like this new attempt at a women’s league has so far been less successful in the execution than it seemed to be in terms of its approach or concept (with the federations supporting and paying salaries and so forth)…

    • Brian says:

      Do you have a basis for this statement? For attendance the top teams are on par with NASL and the bottom teams are on par with USL Pro. Portland is beating Chivas and trails DC United, New England, and Chicago by about 1,000.

      • RB says:

        Yeah: my impression, having watched WPS when it was in operation and having tried to watch this league, and having followed reports like this about it and seen the apparent lack of interest (outliers like Portland notwithstanding).

        And again, it’s a contrast: _more_ was to be expected out of this league, given the set-up…

        • Gerry Marrone (@GerryMarrone) says:

          Why does more have to be expected from this league? I love it when people say things like that. It is no different than when people say these women deserve a league to play in – why?

          • RB says:

            “Why does more have to be expected from this league?”

            Already said why twice. Is a third time going to help?

            “I love it when people say things like that. It is no different than when people say these women deserve a league to play in – why?”

            There is no discernible similarity between the two statements that I can see. Perhaps you can instead explain your comment?

            FTR, I hope it does great. I’m just wondering where the signs of that are…

        • Brian says:

          The only difference in setup is who pays the bills. It really isn’t much different from WPS except adding Portland, Seattle, and KC. The WPS had a longer startup time for teams to prepare and set their rosters. The biggest problem NWSL is facing is jaded fans who expect it to fail again.

          • RB says:

            LOL Do you have a basis for that statement?

            Sorry but who pays the bills is major when shaky finances have led to the failure of 2 previous attempts. So hard to see how the difference in set-up this time around is not very significant..

            But again as I say I hope they succeed beautifully. Just looking around for signs of that (other than a single city/team drawing so well)…

  2. Ron Bishop says:

    Looking forward to a great match with FCKC vs PTFC! FCKC is going to step up and claim the prize they’ve been working towards.
    I’m a STH in KC and am really enjoying the season.

  3. Adam says:

    Women’s soccer is very very very boring.