NWSL Week 11: A Look Back

Kelley OHara SBFC 2014 ISI

By SARAH HALLETT

At the halfway point of the National Women’s Soccer League, some teams are making big statements that they have their sights set on the playoffs while others fall away.

The Portland Thorns FC have moved up to fourth place after a huge win against the Washington Spirit, buoyed by an Alex Morgan brace. The Thorns FC are finally fielding a healthy roster and are starting to resemble the championship team from last year.

The Seattle Reign FC traveled east for a two-game road trip and picked up six points along the way, keeping their unbeaten season in tact. Through 13 games without missing out on points, the Reign hold an eight-point lead over second place FC Kansas City.

A few teams had mixed results this week including the Western New York Flash and the Boston Breakers. Making matters worse for the Flash, they also learned they will have to play the next month without veteran striker Abby Wambach, who is recovering from a knee injury. And the struggling Chicago Red Stars wrapped up the month of June in desperate need for some changes if they are going to maintain their playoff position.

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

FLASH BLANK RED STARS WITH GOALS FROM KERR, TAYLOR

The Western New York Flash started a four game homestretch on Wednesday night by hosting the Chicago Red Stars. The Flash shutout the Red Stars 2-0 with goals from Brittany Taylor and Sam Kerr.

Taylor led off the scoring for the Flash in only the 2nd minute of play. A corner kick played perfectly to the far post by Vicky Losada, led to a simple tap in by Taylor to give the Flash the early lead. The game would carry on without another goal between the two teams for nearly ninety minutes, until Kerr added her fourth goal of the season in stoppage time.

Kerr continues to be one of the leaders for the Flash in the absence of forward Abby Wambach. The Australian midfielder was the catalyst in this game and will be leaned on heavily the next month until Wambach returns from her knee injury.

Watch the match highlights below:

REIGN ROLL OVER BREAKERS FOR EASY WIN

The Seattle Reign FC survived the first half of the season without a loss and started their second half of the season with a 2-0 win over the Boston Breakers. The Reign also earned their first shutout for back-up goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer.

Beverly Goebel scored only a few minutes into the game for Seattle thanks to a pass down the middle from Danielle Foxhoven. Goebel maneuvered around two defenders and drilled her shot to the left corner of the net. Keelin Winters added another goal for the Reign FC in the 25th minute with a header from distance.  Boston keeper Alyssa Naeher never had a good look at the play and could only watch as the ball bounced in right over her head.

On a night where Seattle was missing some key players for national team duty, they were clearly not needed against a Boston team that has only recorded three wins on the season.

Watch the match highlights below:

MORGAN, McDONALD LEAD THORNS TO WALLOP OF SPIRIT

The Portland Thorns FC sent a message to the rest of the league this weekend with their 6-1 thrashing of the Washington Spirit. The Thorns FC are starting to peak at the perfect time, while the Spirit have now dropped three in a row.

Fresh off scoring two goals against France on Thursday night, Alex Morgan added a brace for the Thorns FC in just her second game back with the club. Morgan also had an assist while playing nearly the whole match for Portland. Jessica McDonald came in for Morgan late in the second half and wasted no time by scoring in the 84th and 87th minute. McDonald leads the team with eight goals on the season. Allie Long and Christine Sinclair also added to the scoring sheet for the Thorns FC.

The Spirit suffered several defensive miscues and clearly missed their starting goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, who did not play due to a leg injury. The Spirit have dropped to fifth in the league, while the Thorns FC have taken over fourth place.

Watch the match highlights below:

KANSAS CITY SQUEEZES WIN OUT OF FALTERING RED STARS

There weren’t on on-field fireworks and it wasn’t their best game of the season, but FC Kansas City managed to pull off a 1-0 win over the visiting Chicago Red Stars.

Jen Buczkowski earned the lone goal of the match, coming in the 76th minute for FC Kansas City. Buczkowski had a sliding left footed shot that was just out of reach of Red Stars keeper Karina LeBlanc. It was the first goal on the season for the midfielder.

The Chicago Red Stars with the loss find themselves beginning a thirteen-day break mired in a terrible slump. The Red Stars have only earned one point in their last five games and will face the red-hot Portland Thorns FC on July 4th in Portland.

No match highlights available.

BREAKERS RALLY FOR DRAW TO SKY BLUE

Sky Blue FC and the Boston Breakers continue to wage battle on the ill-coveted last place spot in the league. Thanks to a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon, that position still remains with the Breakers.

Kelley O’Hara scored for Sky Blue FC only two minutes into the game. O’Hara found herself unmarked on the goal line and Caitlin Foord delivered a ball square to her feet to give Sky Blue FC the early lead. The Breakers fought back however with a goal from Jazmine Reeves. Reeves has been one of the few bright spots for Boston this season and she added her fourth goal of the season in the 31st minute for the Breakers.

Sky Blue FC had plenty of opportunities to win the game, outshooting the Breakers 22-4. Yet keeper Alyssa Naeher did an excellent job of keeping Boston in the game and picking up one point.

No match highlights available.

REIGN STUN FLASH WITH TWO LATE GOALS FOR COMEBACK WIN

It appeared that the Seattle Reign FC would finally suffer their first loss on Sunday when they found themselves down a goal with only minutes to play. Instead Seattle reminded everyone why they are the best team in the league by coming back to defeat the Western New York Flash 2-1. Again, Kopmeyer started as Solo was not available after having been arrested earlier in the week.

Kate Deines provided the equalizer for the Reign FC in the 83rd minute with a beautiful header off of a free kick from Kim Little. Sydney Leroux delivered the game winner only five minutes later with a chip shot over Flash goalie Lydia Williams who was caught off her line. Seattle now sits eight points ahead of FC Kansas City after picking up six points on their two-game road trip.

No match highlights available.

SBI WEEK 11 AWARDS

Player of the Week: Alex Morgan technically scored four goals this week, though only two were for her club as the other brace was with the U.S. Women’s National Team. But she was on fire and only a few weeks back from a seven-month injury lay-off, Morgan is quickly resembling the Morgan of old.

Team of the Week: The Seattle Reign FC had to deal with two road games this week as well as some off-field controversy in Solo’s absence. They overcame all of it and put together a great comeback against the Western New York Flash to remain undefeated. Six points despite all the distractions-earns them the team of the week.

What did you think of Week 11? Think Alex Morgan is looking like she can turn the Thorns’ season around? Will Abby Wambach’s injury force the Flash to fall further down the table?

Share your thoughts below.

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One Response to NWSL Week 11: A Look Back

  1. FanFan says:

    Thanks for the great recap. Spirit defense is stinky! Can’t wait to see if Garefrekes can help this team!