NWSL Week 9: A Look Back

Alex Morgan return Thorns warmup by David Blair

Photo by David Blair/Portland Thorns FC

By SARAH HALLETT

It was a week to set records in the National Women’s Soccer League and for the best teams to continue to march their way up in the standings.

But the long-awaited return of Alex Morgan did not turn out the way the Portland Thorns had hoped. The team suffered their worst-ever loss and the worst loss in league history with a 5-0 thrashing from the Western New York Flash. The Thorns, now in sixth place, are left reeling as they’ve allowed nine goals in the last two games.

Meanwhile, Seattle Reign FC are now unbeaten in 11 games after a spirited test from the Chicago Red Stars and hold an eight point advantage over second-place FC Kansas City. The FCKC Blues may still have a big gap to close, but they were perfect this past week earning a full six points.

Elsewhere, the Houston Dash and the Washington Spirit both made strides this week in the right direction with crucial wins on the road.

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

STRONG SPIRIT SHUT OUT THE RED STARS FOR WIN

It was the second trip this season to Chicago for the Washington Spirit and the Spirit once again shut out the Red Stars 1-0.

Jodie Taylor broke open a deadlocked game with the only goal of the match in the 79th minute. Taylor tapped in a goal from close range after Chicago keeper Karine LeBlanc was unable to clear a shot from Spirit midfielder Veronica Perez.

Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris had a huge game for Washington with five key saves, including a diving stop against a bullet by Zakiya Bywaters early in the second half. It was the second clean sheet of the season for Harris, both coming against the Red Stars.

The Spirit are halfway through a four game road trip and have been perfect so far, picking up a crucial six points in the last week. They now sit third in the league standings, one spot above the Red Stars.

Check out the match highlights:

ON-FIRE RODRIGUEZ LEADS FC KANSAS CITY TO EDGE OUT FLASH

FC Kansas City took advantage of a slumping Western New York Flash team and picked up a 1-0 win on Wednesday night, thanks to a late first half goal by Amy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez scored in the 45th minute off of a give-and-go from Leigh Ann Robinson that caught the Flash defense off guard. Rodriguez was able to slip the ball easily past Western New York’s back line for her ninth goal of the season.

It was only the second game this year where the Flash have failed to score a goal. This may have been partly due to the absence of their striker Abby Wambach, who missed the game due to a knee injury.

Check out the match highlights:

HOLIDAY CONVERTS TWICE ON PENALTIES, LEADS BLUES TO COASTING WIN OVER BREAKERS

FC Kansas City won their third game in a row on Saturday night with a 2-0 victory at home against the Boston Breakers.

Lauren Holiday provided both goals for FC Kansas City off of two penalty kicks in the first half.

The first penalty kick was awarded after Amy Rodriguez was taken down inches inside the 18-yard line by Breakers defender Julie King. It was a questionable call, but FC Kansas City took advantage of it with Holiday easily converting the penalty kick.

The second penalty also raised the objections from the Breakers when defender Jazmyne Avant tripped up FC Kansas City midfielder Erika Tymrak. Holiday sealed the game with another easy penalty kick.

The win has vaulted the Blues to second place in the league, while the Boston Breakers continue to hold the ill-coveted spot at the bottom of the table.

Check out the match highlights:

FLASH PUMMEL 10-MAN THORNS AFTER EARLY RED CARD

The Western New York Flash headed to Portland looking for a much needed three points. They left making history after a 5-0 win over the Portland Thorns FC, the biggest margin of victory recorded in any NWSL matches and a franchise record for the Flash.

Sam Kerr and Carli Lloyd contributed braces for the Flash, with McCall Zerboni adding the fifth goal.

It was the second game in a row that the Portland Thorns FC were forced to play a man down for the majority of the game. Thorns goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was ejected from the match in the 27th minute after a controversial call for tripping Kerr inside the box. If the suspect suspension stands, she will be forced to sit out the next match she is available.

Lloyd converted the penalty kick and then earned a goal in the 51st minute that deflated any hopes for a Portland rally in the second half.

The lone bright spot for the Portland Thorns was the debut of Alex Morgan, who went the full 90 after missing seven months due to injury. Though not able to score, Morgan provided some much needed energy for Portland and looked sharp with a couple shots on goal requiring strong saves.

Check out the match highlights:

REIGN SURGE TO OVER RED STARS FOR LEAGUE-RECORD  11 GAMES UNBEATEN

The Seattle Reign FC remains unbeaten through 11 games, a NWSL record and an extraordinary turnaround for the team that only won 5 games total last year.

Seattle handed a 3-1 loss to the visiting Red Stars thanks to a brace by Kim Little as well as the game-winner from forward Sydney Leroux.

Chicago led the scoring off with a goal headed in by former Reign player Emily van Egmond in the 62nd minute and looked poised to dethrone the Reign with a spirited match up to that point.

But the lead was a brief lead as Seattle took advantage minutes later of a penalty kick awarded after Beverly Goebel was taken down inside the box. Little took the kick and provided the equalizer for Seattle.

Leroux then gave the Seattle Reign FC the lead with a beautiful shot from distance in the 69th minute that took a deflection and curled under the crossbar. Little converted her second penalty kick of the game in the 77th minute, giving her a league-leading 11 goals.

The Chicago Red Stars have now dropped two games in a row, though they did see the debut of forward Christen Press, who went the full game for Chicago and looked sharp despite no goals.

Check out the match highlights:

DASH CONTINUE UPWARD TREND, DEAL LOSS TO SKY BLUE

The Dash won their second game in a row with a 3-0 defeat of Sky Blue FC on Sunday night. Tiffany McCarty scored a brace for the Dash, while Ella Masar tacked on her third goal of the season.

McCarty had two unassisted goals, the first coming in the 10th minute of action with a shot from distance to the right corner of the net, far out of reach of goalkeeper Jill Loyden.

Masar added the second goal of the game for Houston with a header in the 20th minute. Masar appeared to be offside, but no call was made.

A frustrated Sky Blue FC team came unraveled in the second half and Houston nabbed a third goal to prove it. A poor clearance in the 79th minute by Loyden led to her getting tangled up with her own defense. McCarty took advantage and chipped a shot into the goal that bounced off defender Christie Rampone into the empty net.

Though the Dash may sport a miserable record of 3-7-1, the first-year club now sits only four points behind the likes of the Portland Thorns and the Western New York Flash. Also in their favor?Seven of their next nine games will be at home.

No highlights available.

SBI WEEK 9 AWARDS

Player Of The Week: Samantha Kerr was in in a crowded field of multi-goal-scorers this week. But Kerr not only had two goals and an assist for the Western New York Flash, she was also an intricate piece in their win against Portland that may just turn their season around.

Team Of The Week: FC Kansas City may not be flashy but they are a team that finds a way to get points. Two wins this past week have given the Midwest team sole possession of second place in the league.

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What did you think of Week 9? Can the Portland Thorns turn things around? How did Alex Morgan look after seven months of recovery time? Is there any team in the NWSL that can top the Seattle Reign?

Share your thoughts below.

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6 Responses to NWSL Week 9: A Look Back

  1. ADC says:

    It will inevitably go to a goalscorer but I really think Harris put in a POTW performance against Chicago. I’d argue that no one did more to help their team get a win this week.

  2. necron99 says:

    Interesting. FCKC gets team of the week for beating the bottom of the table team and the Flash on a multigame losing streak. What about the Spirit who beat the then number 2 team in the league who was on a 5 game winning streak? Beating them for the second time no less.

  3. Landy Cakes says:

    The Reign are so nasty, they should just transfer over to MLS.

  4. Liz says:

    it was a tale of 2 Kerrs this week. mid-week Kerr was truly dreadful in all aspects of her game in KC match and got subbed out at half. Weekend Kerr was spectacular in all aspects in PT match.

  5. Liz says:

    Reign get better and better. Ellie Reed and Lou Barnes both deserve callups.

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