NWSL Week 8: A Look Back

Allie Long Sophie Schmidt by Craig Mitchlldyer PTFC

Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Thorns FC

By SARAH HALLETT

In case Seattle Reign FC’s back-to-back draws left anyone wondering if the National Women’s Soccer League leader may tumble in the standings, Seattle set the record straight this week: The Reign have no intention on losing their grip on first place.

A comeback win against Sky Blue FC increased their lead on the NWSL table to seven points and sets up a must-see game next weekend when Seattle plays host to second-place Chicago.

Last-placed Boston Breakers finally showed signs of life with a huge win Wednesday night over Portland. Meanwhile the Portland Thorns find themselves back in the middle of the pack after two back-to-back losses.

And one of the biggest surprises of the season is the steady climb of the Washington Spirit. Thanks to a road win against the Breakers on Sunday night, the Spirit not only have a winning record, but now sit third in the standings.

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

RED STARS WINNING STREAK CONTINUES WITH 2-0 WIN OVER SKY BLUE FC

The Chicago Red Stars kept their lock on second place in the league, thanks to a 2-0 victory Wednesday night against Sky Blue FC. It was the fifth win in a row for the Red Stars who haven’t lost a game since April.

Adriana Leon scored unassisted in the 27th minute after winning the ball from the Sky Blue FC defense on the six yard line. A short chip shot over keeper Jill Loyden gave Leon her first goal of the year.

Leon had an assist only minutes later as she gave a quick feed to Lori Chalupny, who fired a left-footed shot from the penalty mark to the right corner of the net.

It was the third game this season that Sky Blue FC failed to put up a single goal and a disappointing result coming off their big win in Portland only a week ago.

Check out the match highlights:

BREAKERS SHOCKS THORNS WITH 4-1 WIN ON REEVES HAT-TRICK

The Boston Breakers finally came to life on Wednesday night and stunned the reigning NWSL champions with a 4-1 win. Jazmine Reeves led the charge for the Breakers with a hat-trick and an assist to give the Portland Thorns their first road loss of the season.

Boston had some new faces on the pitch as coach Tom Durkin chose to sit a handful of his regular starters – and his bench took full advantage. Nkem Ezurike, playing in only her second game of the season, scored the first goal for the Breakers in the 2nd minute of play with the assist from Reeves.

Reeves then put on a scoring clinic, notching three goals for Boston including winning a one-on-one against Thorns keeper Nadine Angerer in the 45th minute. Up until this game, no team had scored more than one goal against Angerer, the reigning FIFA Player of the Year – though defensive miscues should shoulder most of the blame for the Thorns.

The Thorns were forced to play a man down after losing defender Kat Tarr late in the first half due to a red card, but by then the match was already well in Boston’s favor. The lone bright spot for Portland was a goal by captain Christine Sinclair, who scored her first goal of the year midway through the second half.

Check out the match highlights:

DASH STEAL THREE POINTS FROM BACKSLIDING FLASH WITH 2-1 ROAD WIN

The Western New York Flash needed points on Saturday night. Instead they dropped a crucial home game, losing 2-1 to the Houston Dash and falling to sixth in the league.

Flash midfielder McCall Zerboni started the scoring off with a goal at the tail end of the first half. Zerboni took a cross from Andriana Martin and sent a bullet to the right corner of the net from 12 yards out.

But the Dash made sure the lead wouldn’t last. Houston responded with two unanswered goals in the second half from Kealia Ohai and Nina Burger. In the 51st minute Ohai sent a dribbler past three Flash defenders as well as Flash goalkeeper Lydia Williams that just dropped into the left side of the net. Burger took advantage of a Dash corner kick in the 73rd minute with an easy header to give the Dash the go-ahead goal.

The Flash also saw their biggest star Abby Wambach leave the game in the 25th minute, after getting tangled up with Dash defender Marissa Diggs. Wambach tweeted Monday after an MRI than her knee would be fine.

Check out the match highlights:

REIGN STAY UNBEATEN, DROP SKY BLUE 3-1 WITH NAHO BRACE

The Seattle Reign FC made a quick trip to the east coast and it proved worth their while thanks to a 3-1 win against a struggling Sky Blue FC team.

All three Seattle Reign FC goals came in the second half with Naho Kawasumi leading the team with two goals. Kim Little also contributed her league-leading 9th goal of the season for Seattle.

Sky Blue FC struck first with a goal from midfielder Katy Freels in the 42nd minute. It’s the third goal on the season for Freels and one of the few offensive highlights for Sky Blue FC in this game. Though able to keep pace with Seattle in the first half, Sky Blue FC couldn’t contain the offensive onslaught brought on by the first place club in the final forty-five minutes.

No match highlights available.

TAYLOR LIFTS SPIRIT TO A 3-2 WIN OVER THE BREAKERS

Just as the Boston Breakers thought their tide may be turning coming off their surging defeat of Portland, the Washington Spirit dealt a tough 3-2 loss to the last-placed Breakers.

Lianne Sanderson had a brace for Boston in the first half, but a goal by Christine Nairn and a brace from Jodie Taylor in the second half gave the three points to the Spirit.

Taylor is quietly becoming one of Washington’s most dependable scorers, tying Diana Matheson with a team high of five on the season. Taylor’s winning goal in the 74th minute caught the Breakers defense out of position, as Taylor stole the ball from midfielder Joanna Lohman and then had a direct shot on Breakers keeper Alyssa Naeher.

Though unable to equalize, the final fifteen minutes did show a big offensive push from the Breakers, who were seeking their second win in a row. Instead the Spirit continue to be one of the biggest surprises of the NWSL sophomore season.

Check out the match highlights:

SBI WEEK 7 AWARDS:

Player of the Week: Jazmine Reeves for a huge hat trick against the Portland Thorns that handed the last year’s champion Thorns their biggest loss of the season and gave the Breakers one of their only wins of the season.

Team of the Week: The Washington Spirit for making a jump in the standings to third place after a string of complete team performances.

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3 Responses to NWSL Week 8: A Look Back

  1. NolaJ says:

    Thanks for these updates and highlights.

  2. Nico C. says:

    That Seattle/Chicago game is gonna be sick. Can’t wait to see Solo and LeBlanc duke it out with amazing saves.

  3. Slicey says:

    My question is why didn’t Tom Durkin keep the winning lineup for their second game of the week? Or at least a combination of the usual starters and the standouts off the bench from the Portland game.

    The change-up obviously worked, so why go back to what hasn’t been working all season?