NWSL Week 5: A Look Back

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By KAREEN DROT

Cascadia rivals Seattle Reign FC and Portland Thorns FC occupied first and second place for the past four weeks – but all that changed when they met in Week Five of the National Women’s Soccer League.

On Saturday, the Reign kept their perfect record with a win against the Thorns, thanks to a late stunner by Kim Little, and now sit a full 10 points clear of their competition on the league table.

Because of victories by the Western New York Flash and FC Kansas City on Sunday, the Portland Thorns dropped down to fourth place as the Flash moved into second place and Kansas City rose to third place. On Wednesday, Kansas City fell to the Flash but managed to bounce back and earn three home points against the Washington Spirit on Sunday.

While FC Kansas City find their footing, the Chicago Red Stars appear to be well on their way too as they earned a road point Wednesday against Sky Blue and a win against Houston Dash on Sunday.

Here’s a closer look at this week’s action in the NWSL:

RED STARS TIE SKY BLUE EARNS ROAD POINT IN NEW JERSEY

The Chicago Red Stars ended a two game goalless streak as Hayley Brock scored her first professional career goal to equalize, 1-1, on the road against Sky Blue FC on Wednesday.

Sky Blue was strong on the ball with 10 shots on goal but struggled to defeat Chicago’s goalkeeper Taylor Vancil, who blocked three close range shots by Katy Freels and Monica Ocampo in the 7th minute.

Sky Blue got on the board in the 27th minute as Freels converted a penalty kick after a handball was called on Chicago’s Julianne Sitch.

The Red Stars rebounded in the 58th minute as Brock slipped past two defenders to find space inside the box for the equalizer.

Check out the match highlights:

FC KANSAS CITY FALL TO WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH ON THE ROAD

Western New York Flash’s Samantha Kerr stepped up big for her squad, earning a goal and assist on Wednesday against FC Kansas City to earn a 2-1 win at home.

Both sides played without their American and Canadian national team players but it looked like FC Kansas City struggled more with this setback, only placing two shots on goal. Meanwhile, Kerr put WNY on the board in the 38th minute with a header goal off the Flash’s third consecutive corner kick.

Kerr followed up with an assist on Jasmyne Spencer’s game winner before halftime as Spencer carried the ball around two Blues’ defenders. Early in the second half, Morgan Marlborough pulled the Flash lead back a goal as she scored in the 57th minute.

Check out the match highlights:

LATE LITTLE GOAL LIFTS REIGN OVER THORNS IN DERBY

Seattle and Portland were undefeated entering Saturday’s match and for 88 minutes it looked like they would maintain their records — that is, until Seattle’s Kim Little capitalized on a Portland turnover to earn a 1-0 victory for the Reign against the Portland Thorns.

Portland outplayed Seattle for spells, putting nine shots on goal to Seattle’s five but thanks to Hope Solo, Seattle remained in the game. Playing to a scoreless first half, it looked like Portland could open the scoring in the 47th minute off a corner kick but Seattle’s Ellie Reed cleared the header ball by Christine Sinclair off the line.

In the closing minutes of the game, Portland defender Rebecca Moros passed the ball back towards her goal for a teammate to pick up but instead, Kim Little hopped on the opportunity to carry the ball around goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, who stepped off her line giving Little room to slip the ball into an empty net.

Check out the match highlights:

RODRIGUEZ BRACE EDGES KANSAS CITY OVER SPIRIT

FC Kansas City moved past a loss to the Flash earlier in the week with a 2-1 win over the Washington Spirit on Sunday.

It was a tight match with both sides having four opportunities on goal. Kansas City star striker Amy Rodriguez opened the scoring in the 35th minute with a powerful left footed shot into the upper 90.

Washington’s Danesha Adams equalized in the 62nd minute only to have Rodriguez extend Kansas City’s lead a minute later with a ground hugging shot for the game winning goal.

With this brace, Amy Rodriguez became the league leader in goals with six goals, one ahead of Seattle’s Kim Little – a team FC Kansas City will face on Wednesday in Week 6.

Check out the match highlights:

RED STARS BLANK DASH FOR WIN

Chicago Red Stars earned their second win of the season, shutting out the Houston Dash 1-0 at home, on Sunday.

The lone goal of the night came from Jennifer Hoy as she brought down a clearance from a Houston defender in the 32nd minute and lobbed the ball high above goalkeeper Bianca Henniger for the game-winner.

Houston was largely outplayed by Chicago, only placing one shot on goal to Chicago’s seven in the first half, but thanks to Henniger, the Red Stars weren’t able to get a multiple goal lead.

Highlights are not available of this match.

FLASH SHUT OUT SKY BLUE AS WAMBACH BRACE EARNS WIN

Abby Wambach scored a brace against Sky Blue FC for a 2-0 victory at home on Sunday.

Sunday’s match was a record-setter for the Western New York Flash, who earned their first clean sheet of the season as well as Kelsey Wys being the first goalkeeper this year to earn an assist. Wys, in her first pro start, filled in for Lydia Williams who was called away for Australian national team duty.

Sky Blue did well to keep the Flash offense at bay for the first half, but struggled when Wambach opened the scoring in the 49th minute with a header. The Flash forward doubled the lead in stoppage time in a one-on-one encounter with goalkeeper Brittany Cameron as she managed to chip the ball into the net.

Highlights are not available of this match.

SBI WEEK 5 AWARDS

Player of the Week: Amy Rodriguez, who now leads the league in scoring and has pushed her club up to third place.

Team of the Week: Seattle Reign for fending off their toughest challenge to date and staying perfect.

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What did you think of Week 5? Were you surprised the Thorns couldn’t stop the Reign at home? Which team is impressing you most?

Share your thoughts below.

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5 Responses to NWSL Week 5: A Look Back

  1. Leslie Knope says:

    Every morning after going to JJ’s Diner for some pancakes I check the latest NWSL results. Only a matter of time before Pawnee gets its own team. The Pawnee Cornstalk! Someone in Eagleton can own them, I suppose…

    • Tom Haverford says:

      New business opportunity? I’m in! I can afford a 1% stake in the Pawnee Cornstalk but the uniforms have to say Snakehole Lounge in big sequined letters. I’m also in for the venue naming rights: Tommy’s Dope Fresh Pitch For Alllllll The Ladies. Halftime show: DJ BLUNTZ.

  2. MiguelNajdorf says:

    Reign FC have only played teams in the bottom 6, they’re record isn’t that great…

    • Maria says:

      Portland wa ranked # 2 when they beat them this weekend. Washington. Was ranked # 3 when Seattle beat them. The only teams they haven’t played are CRS, WNY and KCFC , who recently climbed out of the bottom half. I love all the excuses people make to denounce Seattle’s team.

    • z says:

      They’ve played six games. They’ve won six games. They’ve played and beaten two teams that were in the playoffs last season. They just beat the team that was ranked second. They had a ridiculously tight 4 games in 11 days stretch. Three of their starting players played 90 minutes for their respective national teams on Thursday before playing 90 minutes on Saturday, including a player that flew in the day before from Wales. At what point do people stop making up imaginary reasons for why their current record isn’t that impressive?