NWSL Week 14: A Look Back

Hope Solo Reign ISI

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By CASSIDY GABRIEL

Winning streaks are made to be broken — and it seems Week 14 of the National Women’s Soccer League was the week for it.

After nearly three months and 16 matches of leading the National Women’s Soccer League with an untarnished record, the Seattle Reign’s phenomenal unbeaten streak came to an end this week. Fifth place Chicago Red Stars earned the distinction of doing what no other team could do: Shutting out the Reign and nabbing a goal of their own for the win.

FC Kansas City, who hold firm in second place overall, saw their own nine-match undefeated streak collapse this weekend in spectacular fashion after a relentless thrashing from the Portland Thorns.

The Houston Dash moved into seventh place in the standings with their narrow win over the Boston Breakers, who again failed to hold onto a lead. The Washington Spirit also improved their place in the league standings this week, stealing the coveted third place position from the Western New York Flash, whose loss to the Spirit sunk them into sixth place.

Here’s a closer look at the week’s results:

THORNS SETTLE FOR A DRAW WITH RED STARS

The Chicago Red Stars salvaged a point against the Portland Thorns for the second time in five days after their 1-1 draw at midweek, where an exchange of penalty kicks accounted for both sides’ goals.

The result marked the second time in their back-to-back meetings that the Thorns surrendered their lead  to the Red Stars, who equalized via a late Emily van Egmond penalty kick that marred another tight performance from Thorns goalkeeper Nadine Angerer. In the first half, Christen Press’ contact with Vero Boquete in the box led to Allie Long’s penalty that put the Thorns in front for the majority of the match.

No match highlights available.

OHAI BRACE LEADS DASH TO WIN OVER BREAKERS

The Houston Dash won at home for the second time this season thanks to a quick-fire brace in the second half from rookie Kealia Ohai that lifted the Dash over the Boston Breakers, 2-1. The Breakers have given up points week after week from winning positions and this match was hardly an exception, as it was Boston’s Katie Schoepfer who opened the scoring in the fourth minute.

While only five points separate the teams in the table, the Breakers have had difficulty closing out results to improve their last-place standing in the table, while a handful of positive results could place the Dash within reach of the playoff zone. With the result, the Dash are now tied for seventh place with Sky Blue FC, after back-to-back goal-scoring heroics from Ohai in the 56th and 61st minutes and an impressive late save from Erin McLeod to deny Boston’s Jazmine Reeves from stealing a point for the Breakers in the dying moments of the match.

No match highlights available.

SPIRIT TAKE OVER THIRD PLACE WITH VICTORY OVER THE FLASH

The Washington Spirit got back on track with a narrow victory over the Western New York Flash on Saturday night, surging into third place, and sending the Flash plummeting into sixth. In the teams’ third meeting of the season, the Spirit beat out the Flash by a one-goal margin for the second time this year and retained their lone goal, a penalty, for a much-needed 1-0 win.

After 13 minutes, the Flash were forced to make a goalkeeper substitution when Lydia Williams landed awkwardly after coming out to claim a corner kick attempt from Diana Matheson of the Spirit. Kelsey Wys took her place between the posts for the remainder of the match in her fifth appearance for the Flash, but the young goalkeeper could do nothing about Diana Matheson’s penalty kick in the 54th minute, granted after Kersten Garefrekes received a knock from Flash defender Katherine Reynolds in the box.

Despite the result, the Flash received some positive news this week, with estimates of an approaching return for star striker Abby Wambach, who has been out since the end of May with an LCL sprain in her left knee. With Wambach’s recovery reportedly progressing in the right direction, the Flash will await her nearing return to help them round off the season in the playoff zone.

Watch the match highlights below:

RED STARS AVENGE MIDWEEK DRAW TO END REIGN’S UNBEATEN STREAK

The Seattle Reign have salvaged eight results from losing positions this season to preserve their longstanding unbeaten streak, but on Saturday the Chicago Red Stars finally exploited the league leaders’ recent signs of breaking with a 1-0 win. Avenging a seven match winless streak, the Red Stars handed the Reign their first defeat of the season after an unblemished run of 16 matches.

Just eight minutes after kickoff, Canadian international Melissa Tancredi struck a lofted pass from Julie Johnston on her first touch. The volley flew past a helpless Hope Solo and gave Chicago the early lead that they would retain for a narrow victory. Despite the feat, the Red Stars remain in fifth place in the standings, while the Seattle Reign missed out on the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the NWSL table to 12 points.

No match highlights available.

THORNS LEAP INTO FOURTH, SHATTER BLUES’ WIN STREAK WITH 7-1 ROMP

After a month of sound results and consecutive clean sheets, FC Kansas City surrendered their nine-game undefeated streak to the Portland Thorns. The Thorns avenged their midweek draw with the Chicago Red Stars in style as they put seven goals past the second-place Kansas City Blues, and leaped into fourth in the NWSL standings.

Vero Boquete opened the floodgates early on for the Thorns after cleverly netting a left-footed effort off of a deft layoff from Alex Morgan to snap Nicole Barnhart’s six-match shutout streak just three minutes into the match. Alex Morgan was stretchered off in the second half due to an ankle injury precaution, but only after adding an early goal to the Thorns’ impressive tally off of a combination with Steph Catley for a half-volley strike.

Katrina Gorry’s phenomenal strike into the top netting was the Blues’ only solace of the night, bringing the score to 2-1 after 30 minutes. The midfielder was granted a start after the Blues’ talisman Lauren Holiday was hospitalized for dehydration earlier in the week.

Allie Long snuck in her first goal of the match shortly before the halftime whistle and opened the second half scoring in the 62nd minute on a Vero Boquete assist. The Spanish international went on to place a penalty kick past Nicole Barnhart and provide the assist for Christine Sinclair’s goal minutes later, bringing the score to 6-1. Despite the increasing scoreline, the ruthless Thorns bombarded Kansas City until the 87th minute, when Amber Brooks scored her first NWSL goal, and the seventh goal of an historic win for the current NWSL champs.

Watch the match highlights below:

SBI WEEK 14 AWARDS

Player of the Week: Vero Boquete has been a playmaker, magician and priceless talisman for the Portland Thorns since her league debut last month, and Sunday night was no exception. The Thorns midfielder was a focal point of her side’s 7-1 rout over second-place FC Kansas City, tallying a brace and playing a direct role in four of the Thorns’ seven spectacular goals.

Team of the Week: The Portland Thorns made history this weekend with their 7-1 rout over second-place FC Kansas City, the largest winning margin in league history. The reigning NWSL champions righted a month of inconsistent results in phenomenal fashion, scoring seven goals with five different scorers and snapping the Blues’ nine-match win streak. The Thorns’ cohesive effort, offensive prowess and impressive wallop over the second-place Blues earns them the Team of the Week honors.

______________________

What did you think of week 14? Will the Reign return to their dominant performances? Can Kansas City rebound before they meet the Flash on Friday? Can the Thorns return to consistent results after their rout over the Blues?

Share your thoughts below

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5 Responses to NWSL Week 14: A Look Back

  1. kernel_thai says:

    My PotW is Ohai. Id give 2nd to Long and 3rd to Vero. Not taking anything away from Veros performances but I give less weight to add on stats against a team that was just playing out the clock. On the other side, Long’s two goals were key. After KC got back to 2-1 Long’s first goal before the half re-established the lead and her second goal broke the back of KC. Ohai’s goals were even of higher quality, situation wise. Her first drew her team even and her second proved to be the winner

    • Bean says:

      Ohai is getting better every week. Plus she is fast, and stays moving. Works hard on both sides of the ball. I was not impressed in the beginning, but she is doing great now.

  2. Prettypenguin says:

    This is the PTFC we’ve been waiting for. If you thought we were the Death Star last year, this year promises even more.

    • P. Smith says:

      Now that the Thorns have a full and healthy roster we won’t go down without a fight. GO THORNS the 2013 NWSL CHAMPIONS!

  3. P. Smith says:

    Don’t know about Ohai. Allie Long’s good fortune and many of the other 7 (VERO – 2 pts) goals scored by the THORNS were mostly off of assists by Vero. Her skills are far above most of the NWSL players playing this season. Erica Tymrak (who??) , Nicole Barnhart, Amy Rodriquez, Sauerbruun and the beatdown of their FCKC team was fun to watch. Win or lose RCTID!!!

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