NWSL Week 18: A Look Back

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By MIKE McCALL

Even in a weekend when she didn’t play, Alex Morgan managed to make the biggest splash in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Sidelined with a sprained MCL, Morgan was forced to watch Portland’s showdown with Western New York via an online stream, and to put it mildly, she was not impressed.

Her sentiment echoes a common complaint with the league’s online streams — a solid idea that could certainly use some fine-tuning for next season. And Morgan’s comments will ring louder thanks to a mostly quiet slate of games on Saturday.

With the playoff spots already set, the only thing at stake is home-field advantage, and thanks to this week’s results, that won’t be settled until the final round of matches next weekend.

For a closer look, here’s a complete rundown along with what each team must do to play at home in the postseason:

LATE DRAMA IN CHICAGO

The Red Stars really have a nose for drama. This time, they gave up a go-ahead goal to Sky Blue FC in the 89th minute, only to equalize one minute later for a 3-3 draw.

Maribel Dominguez opened the scoring for Chicago, Monica Ocampo brought SBFC level, Sophie Schmidt put the visitors ahead, and Jackie Santacaterina pulled Chicago back into it in the 77th. That set up the late goals by Ocampo and Santacaterina, polishing off a shootout that will go down as a major opportunity lost for SBFC.

BREAKERS UPSET FCKC

Along with the comeback kings in Chicago, Boston is one of those teams that would have been fun to watch had they made the playoffs. This time out, the Breakers pulled out an impressive 1-0 win over league-leading FC Kansas City.

Sydney Leroux netted the game-winner, ending FCKC’s 10-game unbeaten streak and marking only the third time all season that they were held scoreless. All that comes as little consolation for Boston, who could finish the year just two points out of the postseason.

SPIRIT WIN AGAIN

Whatever got into Washington lately, it’s working. After spending most of the season in an epic tailspin, the Spirit notched their second straight victory with a 1-0 home win over Seattle.

Diana Matheson found the net in the 83rd minute to give Washington the win, meaning the club has nearly doubled its season point total in the past two weeks.

FLASH, THORNS FINISH SCORELESS

Morgan’s absence helped lead to a lopsided shot total (the Flash led 14-7), but there would be no goals in the meeting of two teams gunning for home-field advantage.

That leaves the drama until next week, when both teams have plenty to play for.

NWSL HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE SCENARIOS

All four playoff teams go up against non-playoff teams next week, needing the following to earn a home game in the postseason:

FC Kansas City (38 pts) has already clinched at least one home playoff game, and the club will take home first place with a win, draw or a Western New York draw or loss.

The Western NY Flash (35 pts) can snatch first place via a tiebreaker with a win and FCKC loss. They also hold the tiebreakers over the Portland Thorns (35 pts) and Sky Blue FC (35 pts), both of which need to earn more points than the Flash next week. In the event of a tie with Portland, SBFC needs to make up a deficit of one in goal differential.

What do you think? Agree with Morgan’s thoughts on the live stream? Disappointed that none of the playoff teams took charge this weekend?

Share your thoughts below.

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4 Responses to NWSL Week 18: A Look Back

  1. RB says:

    Good call, Alex Morgan — thank you!

    When I recently complained here about streaming (only) NWSL coverage, I was told by one responder that “jaded fans” were the biggest problem challenging the success of this league. Glad to be in such fine company on the point, I guess…

  2. nate says:

    By and large, the streaming has been pretty awful all season. It’s clear that most teams simply don’t have (or choose to allocate elsewhere) the resources to pay two competent announcers (or even one) and even a single quality digital video camera with the bandwidth to stream it. It’s sad because one of the best ways to grow interest in women’s soccer is to have some friends over to watch an away match and expose them to the high quality of play that’s happening all across the league. Unfortunately, that’s undermined by the horrible broadcasts with frequent late starts, missed plays while the sole camera pans across the mostly empty stadia, and stream quality so low that sometimes one can’t even find the ball, let alone distinguish who the players are. The stream Alex was talking about was a perfect example. Rarely was the quality high enough to distinguish the players, the audio lagged 5-10 seconds behind the video the entire time, and the announcers went AWOL for about 45 minutes (whether they were actually pursuing the stray cat who wandered through the press box we leave to speculation).

    Of course, anything is better than the policy of the Boston Breakers, making themselves an embarrassment to the entire league by being the only team to charge for viewing their stream (with a signup process that isn’t tablet-compatible so even those of us willing to suck it up and pay for something that every other team has seen fit to offer for free, can’t).

  3. Mardelle says:

    I have attempted to watch most of the games that were streamed this season. I can honestly say the only 2 teams that have great quality streams are Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign’s the rest are to put it kindly less than quality almost not worth the effort and frustration to watch.. Boston charging to watch their games isn’t right plus their stream is awful.. I do enjoy the play-by-play at link to nwslsoccer.com when I give up trying to watch at least I can keep up on the games. In defense of the streaming at least most teams offer it free hard to argue with free I guess.

  4. keith says:

    i’ve watched all of the red stars game streams and they have definitely improved over time. they were pretty rough the first couple times and their initial announcer was absolutely horrendous. but as the season went on the quality went up to the point where there was no time lag between audio and visual; the announcer was solid, not amazing or anything, but solid; and the stream was available at hd levels. the second half of the season you could definitely see the players and follow along easily without frustration. more cameras would be amazing of course, but onwards and upwards.

    just wanted to mention this.