NWSL Week 7: A Look Back

Sinclair Thorns PTFC

Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Thorns FC

By SARAH HALLETT

The unstoppable Seattle Reign are finally looking vulnerable. Seattle had to settle for two draws this week – their first results less than a win this season – though they still hold a sizable lead in the standings, sitting seven points ahead of second-place Chicago.

The Chicago Red Stars continue to be the biggest surprise of the 2014 season as they won their fourth game in a row with a victory over the Houston Dash this week, even without the big name strikers other clubs boast. The Red Stars have propelled themselves near the top of the table by grinding out wins the past few weeks while still waiting for the talented target forward Christen Press to join them from Sweden.

Meanwhile, the bottom of the league continues to struggle as both the Houston Dash and the Boston Breakers failed to produce any points this past week.

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

SPIRIT CLIMB FROM TWO GOAL DEFICIT TO DRAW AGAINST SKY BLUE

In a game that Sky Blue FC had in complete control through the first 70 minutes of play, it took a resilient Washington Spirit team to fight back to a 3-3 draw on Wednesday night.

A questionable handball penalty against Sky Blue in stoppage time set up the Spirit to tie the game in the final minutes with a penalty kick taken by Diana Matheson, who has been perfect on PKs this season.

Though this match would feature six goals, it took until the 39th minute before the Washington Spirit put up the first goal of the game. Robyn Gayle, with an assist from Crystal Dunn was able to maneuver around two Sky Blue FC defenders to earn her first goal of the season.

Sky Blue FC didn’t wait long in the second half before tying up the game in the 47th minute with a goal from Jonelle Filigno. Only five minutes later Sky Blue FC tacked on another goal off of a free kick by Katy Freels. Her shot went untouched into the right corner of the net as Spirit goalie Ashlyn Harris never had a good look at the ball due to poor visibility over her own wall of defenders.

Kelley O’Hara earned a deflected goal in the 65th minute to give Sky Blue a 3-1 lead, which at the time looked to be enough. However, Lori Lindsey put the Spirit back in the game with a goal in the 74th minute before Matheson equalized.

Check out the match highlights:

KANSAS CITY FORCES DRAW WITH LEAGUE-LEADING REIGN

Still stinging from a loss last week where FC Kansas City gave up a late goal against Seattle Reign FC and watched a point slip away, the FCKC Blues were ready for redemption Wednesday. In their second matchup in a week, FC Kansas City managed a 1-1 draw with a Reign team that came into their meeting perfect, winning seven straight..

Amy Rodriguez scored the lone goal for FC Kansas City with a beautiful shot from long range in the 42nd minute of the game. The assist went to Liz Bogus and it was the seventh goal of the season for Rodriguez, who continues to have a tremendous year for the Blues.

However, their lead would not last very long thanks to a foul called in the box only two minutes later on Kansas City player Nikki Phillips. Seattle midfielder Kim Little easily converted the penalty kick for her seventh goal of the season and helped the Reign avoid a loss.

Check out the match highlights:

LONG AND MCDONALD LEAD THORNS OVER SLUMPING FLASH

The Western New York Flash, who have struggled to hit their stride, headed west to take on the Portland Thorns, but all they found was another loss. In front of a large Wednesday night crowd of about 11,000 in Portland, the Thorns were able to hold off the Flash, 2-1, with the Thorns goals coming from the goal-scorers they’ve relied on all season: Allie Long and Jessica McDonald.

McDonald benefited from a poor clearance by goalkeeper Kelsey Wys early in the second half to give the Thorns the go-ahead goal. Wys was pulled off her line due to a free kick and neither she nor the Flash defense could clear the ball from the goal box. McDonald muscled the ball in for her team leading fifth goal of the year.

Long led off the scoring for Portland in the 16th minute with a beautiful feed from fellow midfielder Angie Kerr just outside the penalty mark. Long threaded the ball past the Flash defense and  Wys for her fourth goal of the season.

The Flash came back with a goal from McCall Zerboni in the 59th minute with an assist from Kristen Edmonds. But it was the seven saves from Thorns goalkeeper Nadine Angerer that made the difference in this game and gave the Flash their second loss in a row.

Check out the match highlights:

DASH SCORE 1ST GOAL IN HOUSTON, BUT FALL 3-1 TO ON-FIRE RED STARS

And the Houston Dash cannot catch a break at home, losing yet again at BBVA Compass Stadium, even as they scored their first-ever goal at home. The Chicago Red Stars were riding a three game winning streak coming into the game and made fairly easy work of the Dash with a 3-1 win that helped lock Chicago into second place, now only seven points behind Seattle at the top.

Chicago struck early, earning a penalty kick in the 9th minute off of a handball by Dash midfielder Becky Edwards. Vanessa DiBernardo, a rookie for the Red Stars, earned her first goal in the NWSL and gave the Red Stars the 1-0 lead.

The Dash had an opportunity in the 32nd minute to tie the game, but Edwards failed to convert a penalty kick against Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc.

Ella Masar put the game in reach for the Dash with a goal in the 51st minute, only to see the Red Stars answer with goals by Alyssa Mautz and Jen Hoy in the second half.

No match highlights available.

LATE O’HARA GOAL BREAKS STALEMATE OVER THORNS FOR SKY BLUE WIN

The reigning NWSL champion Portland Thorns were probably looking to take sole possession of second place of the league with a against a struggling Sky Blue FC side on Saturday. Instead, Sky Blue FC delivered a 1-0 defeat to the Thorns thanks to a late goal by Kelley O’Hara, her second in as many games for the New Jersey team, pushing the Thorns down to fourth on the league table.

O’Hara, unmarked in the box, received a long cross from fellow national team player Christie Rampone that she clinically headed into the net, near post past Thorns goalkeeper Nadine Angerer. The goal came in the 84th minute and broke open a deadlocked game that should be credited to both Angerer and Sky Blue FC goalie Jill Loyden. Both goalkeepers made tremendous efforts throughout both halves with Loyden putting up eight saves against a frustrated Thorns offense.

The victory gave Sky Blue FC a much needed win, only their second on the season.

Forward Alex Morgan was made available for Portland, her first game on the 18-player roster this season due to her recovery from a stress fracture. Morgan did not see any playing time, but is expected to see some minutes in the upcoming week for the Thorns.

Check out the match highlights:

FC KANSAS CITY BLASTS PAST TROUBLED BREAKERS

The Boston Breakers continue their downward spiral, dropping their fourth game in a row, thanks to a 2-0 loss to FC Kansas City on Sunday. The loss is the sixth of the year for the Breakers who are struggling to find any consistency a third of the way through the season.

Amy Rodriguez, on the other hand, has been the model of consistency for FC Kansas City as the striker tacked on her eighth goal of the season. With an assist from Jen Buczkowski in the 82nd minute, Rodriguez easily maneuvered around a fatigued Breakers back line to punch in the late goal.

FC Kansas City also saw a goal from Nikki Phillips, her first on the year in the 62nd minute. It was a big win for FC Kansas City as it gave them sole possession of third place ahead of the Portland Thorns. FC Kansas City now earns a much-deserved ten-day break having played the most games of any team this season with eleven.

Check out the match highlights:

LITTLE EQUALIZER SALVAGES REIGN DRAW WITH FLASH

Kim Little has lived up to every expectation placed upon her since joining her former coach Laura Harvey in Seattle this season. And on Sunday night not only did she add her eighth goal of year, but she also saved the Seattle Reign FC from their first loss.

Down 1-2 headed into stoppage time, Little delivered what may be her best goal of the season. With a perfect delivery from Beverly Goebel, Little nailed a low strike from approximately 18 yards out to the right corner of the net to give Seattle the equalizer.

It was a game that the Flash will look back on with disappointment after giving up a goal to Jess Fishlock in the 45th minute and then conceding Little’s goal in the waning moments of the game.

The Flash struck first with Abby Wambach taking advantage of a poor defensive clearance early in the first half to give the Flash the early lead. Carli Lloyd also contributed a goal with an assist from Wambach in the 62nd minute.

However, in the end the Flash will the leave the west coast with only one point between their games in Portland and Seattle and have now dropped to sixth in the standings.

Check out the match highlights:

NAIRN’S LATE STOPPAGE TIME GOAL RAISES SPIRIT OVER DASH

The Houston Dash began a three-game road trip against the Washington Spirit in desperate need of points. Instead, the Washington Spirit delivered a crushing 3-2 loss to a Dash team hoping badly for a win, thanks to a late goal from Christine Nairn.  Nairn broke open a 2-2 tie game in the 93rd minute with a brilliant shot from 30 yards out to give the Spirit the last-minute victory.

Diana Matheson started the scoring early for the Spirit. She chipped in a goal in the 4th minute of the match after Houston goalkeeper Erin McLeod was pulled out of the box on the previous play. The Dash however came back only eight minutes later with a goal of their own from Nina Burger with an assist from Kayln Kyle.

Washington and Houston continued to exchange goals with Jodie Taylor notching a goal for the Spirit in the 38th minute and Osinachi Ohale heading in a goal for the Dash in the 77th minute.

But the game belonged to Nairn, who not only had an assist but also provided the crucial goal to give the Spirit three points.

No match highlights available.

SBI WEEK 7 AWARDS:

Player of the Week: Kim Little had two spectacular goals in a week of beauties that kept her Seattle Reign FC team from losing points. Tied with Amy Rodriguez as the league’s top scorer with eight goals this season, Little looks very much to be an early contender for MVP of the league.

Team of the Week: The Washington Spirit fought back in stoppage time twice this week to salvage points, drawing against Sky Blue FC and then beating the Dash. Washington has netted seven points in their last three games and currently sits in fifth place in the standings.

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What did you think of Week 7′s results? What did you think of the Reign’s performances this week in their first games they haven’t won? Did Sky Blue look better and does O’Hara’s two-game scoring streak mean the team might be able to turn things around? Can the Red Stars keep up their form until Press arrives?

Share your thoughts below.

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2 Responses to NWSL Week 7: A Look Back

  1. Reign Fan says:

    I would have liked to have heard LH’s halftime speach… Even tho they gave up the goal on the corner kick, they really came out a different team in the 2nd half.

    WNY really poured in o. To open the game, but couldn’t sustain the pace. Great assist and goal by Cox and Fishlock!

  2. z says:

    I don’t think drawing teams like FCKC and WNY is anything to be too concerned with for the Reign.That they got points out of those games without particularly playing well says a lot for the character of the team and that they will be a difficult team to beat because they don’t give up until the final whistle. They’ve been missing Naho for the last month and it’s showed in their lack of creativity and width in the final third and without Pinoe they haven’t had other options that could slot in that were that caliber of player. Thankfully Naho is coming back this week. They got through a tough May schedule without losing and I think that’s pretty impressive.