NWSL Week 16: A Look Back

MeganRapinoeSeattleReignNWSL2014 (JaneGPhoto)

Photo by Jane G. Photography/Seattle Reign FC

By SARAH HALLETT

If the Portland Thorns FC wanted to test how good they are just a few weeks shy of the playoffs, they received quite the wakeup call on Sunday afternoon with a 5-0 loss to the top-ranked Seattle Reign FC.

While the Reign FC have already punched their ticket to the playoffs, the Thorns FC are deep in the hunt to return to the playoffs. Portland played their third game in a weeks span and it showed in the loss on Sunday afternoon. However despite the loss, the team will finish the sixteenth week of the National Women’s Soccer League with thirty points and in third place.

Meanwhile, FC Kansas City picked up three points this weekend and earned their first win in three games thanks to a victory over Sky Blue FC. The Blues have a firm hold on second place in the league and will be looking to lock up home field advantage for the playoffs in the coming weeks.

The Washington Spirit, the Chicago Red Stars and the Western New York Flash are all battling with the Thorns FC for the last few playoff spots. The Flash lost a home match against the Boston Breakers on Friday night and the Red Stars could only muster a draw against the Houston Dash on Saturday.

The next few weeks will provide plenty of pressure for all teams looking to vie for the championship.

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

THORNS, SPIRIT SPLIT POINTS AS BOTH SIDES EYE PLAYOFFS

The Portland Thorns FC were forced to make a midweek trek to the east coast for their match up with the Washington Spirit on Wednesday night. The result was a 1-1 draw that inched the two teams up in the table, as they are in a tight race for one of the three remaining playoff spots.

It was a game that almost didn’t happen thanks to a thunderstorm that delayed play for two hours. Once the match was finally underway, Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan led off the scoring with an early goal in the 8th minute. A long pass from Stephanie Catley connected with the speedy Morgan, who outran three Spirit defenders and then chipped a shot over the head of keeper Ashlyn Harris.

Jodie Taylor provided the equalizer for the Spirit in the 68th minute after the Spirit took advantage of a turnover at midfield. Diana Matheson delivered a pass to Taylor, who was able to beat out the Portland back line and tie the game up at one apiece.

Check out the match highlights:

FLASH HINDER PLAYOFF HOPES WITH LOSS TO BREAKERS

The Western New York Flash were in desperate need of three points on Friday night. Instead they suffered a 4-2 loss to the Boston Breakers and made the road to the playoffs even harder.

Heather O’Reilly had a brace for the Breakers as well as an assist. Lianne Sanderson and Jazmine Reeves also contributed to the cause as Boston put together one of their best offensive matches of the season.

The Flash were forced to play another game without Abby Wambach, who is still rehabbing an injured knee. Carli Lloyd did her part by adding her seventh goal of the season, as well as providing the assist to teammate Jasmyne Spencer’s goal. It was not enough however for a team that now has four games left on the schedule and currently sits in sixth place with twenty-four points.

Check out the match highlights:

RED STARS STAY ON THE CUSP OF PLAYOFFS WITH DRAW TO DASH

The Chicago Red Stars failed to score a goal for the first time in over a month. It was poor timing for the Red Stars who are fighting for a playoff spot and currently sit in fifth place with twenty-eight points.

Christen Press came close to providing the winning goal for Chicago in stoppage time. Press curled a ball to the left side of the goal that ricocheted off the cross bar. Dash goalie Erin McLeod and the Houston defense were in top form and should be credited with keeping the Red Stars scoreless in the match.

See the match highlights below:

RODRIGUEZ, HOLIDAY LIFT FC KANSAS CITY OVER SKY BLUE

Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Holiday led FC Kansas City to a 2-1 win over Sky Blue FC on Sunday afternoon. Rodriguez a scored her eleventh goal of the season in the 34th minute off of a cross from Holiday, who teamed up with forward Sarah Hagen to bring the ball down field for the Blues. Holiday added her own goal in the 70th minute to secure the win.

Sky Blue FC fought back with a goal late in the game in the 87th minute. A sloppy defensive miscue led to a turnover allowing Sky Blue FC forward Nadia Nadim to punch in the goal.

No match highlights available.

REIGN WALLOP THORNS 5-0 IN CASCADIA DERBY

The Seattle Reign FC offense had been a little quiet over the past few weeks. The offense was anything but quiet thanks to a 5-0 win over their west coast rival, the Portland Thorns FC on Sunday afternoon.

Sydney Leroux started the scoring early for the Reign FC with a goal in the 3rd minute of play. Leroux drove up the left side and sent a low shot past Portland Thorns FC keeper Nadine Angerer for the early 1-0 lead.

Naho Kawasumi scored with a beautiful running header in the 39th minute that sailed over Angerer’s head into the right side of the net. It was a play created by Kim Little, who delivered a perfect cross to Naho who converted the goal. Naho added her second goal only a few minutes into the second half, with the assist also belonging to Little. Megan Rapinoe and Little both contributed second half goals that put the game far out of reach for the Thorns FC.

See the match highlights below:

SBI WEEK 16 AWARDS

Player of the Week: Heather O’Reilly led the Breakers to a big win on Friday night with two goals and an assist. O’Reilly is one of the best players in the league and unfortunately much of her talent has been ignored this season due to her team’s poor play. She is always fun to watch and hopefully her efforts will be better rewarded next season.

Team of the Week: FC Kansas City doesn’t tally the blowouts some teams have executed this season, but FCKC continues to find a way to get the job done with a strong work rate. They did just enough to get a win against Sky Blue FC on Sunday night and more importantly increased their chances of playing at home during the post season.

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5 Responses to NWSL Week 16: A Look Back

  1. Bean says:

    A humiliation for Portland, and to add to the misery, it was from the hands of their regional rivals. I was not expecting this score.

    • nate says:

      Sadly, this score wasn’t all that surprising. The Thorns have been shaky on defense for most of the year. And in shifting to a 3-5-2, Riley has doubled down on pouring numbers forward and daring teams to try and outscore them. Unfortunately, Seattle has an offense that’s up for taking that gamble all the way to the bank (not to mention, the central midfield to stymie the Thorns attack in the middle of the pitch). The Thorns created some chances from the wings and over the top, but were shut down most of the time when they came inside (they had a few chances there, but not many).

      I think the Thorns could still give other teams trouble, but it seems likely that they just don’t have the tools to beat Seattle. Their best bet is to finish 3rd, beat KC away, and hope Chicago finishes 4th and can knock off Seattle again. If it went down that way, I could totally see the Thorns backing their way into a title for the second straight year. But I’m not holding my breath.

    • Landy Cakes says:

      Leroux, younger, hotter, singler, better than Morgan in every way.

      Kim Little and Sydney Leroux, together at the same time, it doesn’t get any better than that…. and I’m just talking about the soccer.

  2. STT says:

    A side note on playoff scenarios:
    Boston has been eliminated from playoff contention thanks to the Chicago-Houston draw. If Boston wants to pass both Chicago and Washington, they need to hope Chicago loses out for the rest of the season, since even one point to Chicago would guarantee they finish higher than Boston on tiebreaks. However, Chicago plays Washington this week, so a Chicago loss would give Washington 3pts, pushing them out of reach of Boston. Hence Boston has been eliminated.

    • STT says:

      *This is still true even if Washington had lost to Portland – losing to Portland and beating Chicago would still put them at 30pts.