NWSL Week 4: A Look Back

Hope Solo Seattle Reign training 2014 ISIPhoto by ISIPhotos.com

By KAREEN DROT

It’s a month into the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League, and two teams remain strong at the top of the table, but one team is quickly catching up. FC Kansas City made a huge leap from bottom place to third place with two consecutive wins in the fourth week, against the Chicago Red Stars on Wednesday and the Houston Dash, on Saturday. Now FCKC trails the Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign FC.

Seattle continues to dominate the league with double digit points, claiming two wins this week against Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit. The Portland Thorns sit in second place with 8 points following a draw against the Western New York Flash.

Following a second consecutive loss on Wednesday to Seattle, Sky Blue FC tried out a new starting XI lineup for Saturday’s match against Boston and it worked as the New Jersey club tasted victory for the first time this year.

Here’s a closer look at Week 4 in the NWSL:

SEATTLE DOMINATES SKY BLUE FOR FIRST ROAD WIN

Seattle’s dominance continued as the Reign picked up three road points to add to their perfect record, following a 2-0 win over Sky Blue FC on Wednesday.

Seattle didn’t let the torrential rain fog up their vision of the net but the same can’t be said for Sky Blue, who failed to score in a match for the first time this year.

The second half was Sky Blue’s better showing as they pressed Seattle’s defensive third with Sophie Schmidt having the best looks on goal with a powerful 20 yard shot and a penalty kick, both blocked by Hope Solo.

Nahomi Kawasumi earned a goal and assist, scoring in the 24th minute off a blunder by Sky Blue’s goalkeeper Jill Loyden who struggled to clear the ball inside the penalty box, allowing Kawasumi to slip the ball into the net. Then in the second half, she assisted on Beverly Goebel’s first goal of the season.

Watch the video highlights below:

FC KANSAS CITY SHUT OUT CHICAGO FOR FIRST SEASON WIN

FC Kansas City hosted the Chicago Red Stars on Wednesday in search of their first win and thanks to Amy Rodriguez, they found it with a 1-0 victory.

Rodriguez scored the game-winner early in the 8th minute, running onto a through ball from Jen Buczkowski inside the box to clip the ball into the net.

Chicago struggled offensively, but has Karina LeBlanc to thank for keeping FCKC from a multiple goal lead. The Blues tried to extend their lead on multiple occasions with seven shots on goal denied by LeBlanc, including a powerful curving ball by Lauren Holiday.

Watch the video highlights below:

LEROUX NOTCHES FIRST SEASON GOAL AS REIGN FEND OFF SPIRIT

For the first time this year, the Seattle Reign fell behind on Saturday, trialing the Washington Spirit by a goal early in the second half. But despite Washington’s solid performance, Seattle bounced back to collect three points with a 2-1 victory on the road.

Playing to a scoreless first half, it was Seattle’s poor clearance inside the box in the 52nd minute that gave Washington an opportunity to breakthrough after being denied by Hope Solo earlier.

Ali Krieger scored the opening goal on a rebound once Solo blocked two on-target opportunities by Jodie Taylor. The ball was pushed out into the box for Krieger to collect and put away for the lead.

Seattle countered immediately with Jessica Fishlock drawing the equalizer. Twenty minutes later, Sydney Leroux scored the game winner with a low shot into the far corner of the net.

Watch the video highlights below:

FLASH EARNS DRAW AT HOME OPENER AGAINST PORTLAND

It was their first meeting in Rochester N.Y. since the Portland Thorns defeated the Western New York Flash there to win the championship last year, but Flash couldn’t get their revenge. Jessica McDonald spoiled the Flash’s plans, forcing WNY to settle for a 1-1 draw at Sahlen’s Stadium.

In nearly every Flash game, a new leader emerges and Saturday was no different with Sonia Bermudez making her NWSL debut and scoring the leading goal, a converted free kick in the 38th minute.

The Flash took advantage of Abby Wambach’s return, setting her up for crosses in the box, but she was heavily surrounded by Portland defenders.

McDonald slipped the ball in for the equalizer four minutes later when the Flash’s goalkeeper Lydia Williams, couldn’t keep possession after blocking a cross from Sarah Huffman.

This is McDonald’s third goal in two consecutive games.

Watch the video highlights below:

SKY BLUE FC TOP TROUBLED BREAKERS FOR FIRST SEASON WIN

Sky Blue FC might have finally found an effective starting XI. On Saturday, in a battle of two struggling teams, Sky Blue came out on top recording their first win and clean sheet this year in a 1-0 victory against the Boston Breakers.

Sky Blue’s 4-4-2 formation was effective on the ball, gaining possession for stretches of time and creating seven on-target opportunities compared to Boston’s three. For the first time this year, Jill Loyden and Katy Freels did not get the start, instead Brittany Cameron started between the posts and Jonelle Filigno joined Monica Ocampo up top.

The lone goal was clipped low into the net by Monica Ocampo after she received a cross inside the box from Kelley O’Hara out on the flank.

Cameron kept Sky Blue in the game with two saves against Heather O’Reilly including a close range shot on goal early in the second half. Another advantage for Sky Blue was Lisa De Vanna’s red card in the 89th minute after the forward protested being pulled down in the midfield by Caitlin Foord.

Watch the video highlights below:

TEN-MAN DASH FALL TO KANSAS CITY AT HOME

For the first time this year, Kansas City didn’t rely on Amy Rodriguez for a goal – and Kansas City found a big second win of the season in the process. Four FCKC players, including Rodriguez, added their name to the score sheet shutting out the Houston Dash 4-0 on the road Saturday.

Kansas City’s defense closed down space for Houston to create set pieces – as a result, FCKC outshot Houston, 23-5. Houston also had to play a man down in the second half after Osinachi Ohale was given a red card for taking down Rodriguez outside the 18 yard box.

Liz Bogus scored the game-winning goal in the 12th minute with a through ball from Lauren Holiday. The Dash defense pushed FCKC at bay for the remainder of the half but struggled in the second half as Rodriguez, Erika Tymrak and Frances Silva extended the lead.

With three goals on the board, FCKC wasn’t done for the night when Silva scored from a similar spot as Rodriguez did earlier. Silva got on the end of a ball inside the box from Holiday and chipped it high into the net past goalkeeper Erin McLeod.

Match highlights are not available.

SBI WEEK 4 AWARDS

Player of the Week: Sydney Leroux finally got on the board for the Seattle Reign and lifted them over the Washington Spirit in their toughest match thus far.

Team of the Week: FC Kansas City came roaring back from a tough start to the season to play well together this week, shutting out the Red Stars and crushing the Dash, 4-0, with multiple goal-scorers.

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