NWSL Week 17: A Look Back

AbbyWambachWesternNYFlash1-SkyBlueFCNWSL2014 (SkyBlueFC)

By SARAH HALLETT

As the seventeenth week of the NWSL regular season came to an end, two teams are now assured a place in the postseason.

FC Kansas City joins the Seattle Reign FC as the second team promised a spot in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Washington Spirit did everything asked of them this past week and earned six points, which cemented their hold on third place and greatly improves their  chances of claiming one of the two remaining playoff spots.

The Western New York Flash are also hanging onto their dreams of the postseason. Though the team sits in sixth place, a loss early in the week against Sky Blue FC was redeemed with a 4-3 win over the Boston Breakers on Sunday night. Abby Wambach scored two goals and gave notice to the league that the Flash are not just going to fall by the wayside during the final weeks of the season.

The Portland Thorns FC hosted the Houston Dash on Sunday night in the second nationally televised game of the season on ESPN2. The game produced the largest crowd in NWSL history with more than 19,000 fans in attendance.

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

REIGN CAPTURE NWSL SHIELD WITH WIN VS. DASH

The Seattle Reign FC have already secured the number one seed, promising them home field advantage in the playoffs, and on Wednesday night thanks to a 4-1 win over the Houston Dash they also picked up the NWSL shield, an award given to the team with the best regular season record.

Kim Little led the Reign FC with a brace, which brings her to fourteen goals on the season. Little has bypassed the league benchmark of twelve goals that won Lauren Holiday the NWSL Golden Boot award last year.

Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe also added goals for Seattle in a game that left coach Laura Harvey with little to find fault with. Kealia Ohai added the lone goal for the Dash who fell to 5-11-3.

Check out the match highlights:

SPIRIT EARN TOUGH WIN AGAINST FCKC

The Washington Spirit picked the perfect game to upset one of the toughest teams in the league. A 2-1 victory over FC Kansas City on Wednesday night has kept the Spirit in prime position to make their first trip to the playoffs.

Goals by Kerstin Garefrekes and Christine Nairn buoyed Washington to the win with defender Becky Sauerbrunn contributing a goal for the Blues. FC Kansas City has struggled to score multiple goals in a game over the past month, only doing so twice in the month of July.

Check out the match highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PePsbIm5DWA&list=UUL4xu08EDu0ZFZsBJUB0chw

FLASH LOSE CLOSE MATCH TO SKY BLUE FC 

The Western New York Flash continue to struggle during the waning weeks of the season. After a 1-0 loss to Sky Blue FC on Thursday night, the Flash are in danger of missing the postseason for their first time in their storied history.

Kelley O’Hara scored for Sky Blue FC in the 50th minute. A blast to the right corner of the net from twelve yards out gave O’Hara her fifth goal of the season.

Abby Wambach made her return to the team after missing two months with a knee injury. Sky Blue FC was able to keep the veteran striker scoreless though Wambach had her chances, including a couple of diving headers that missed the mark late in the first half. Although the Flash have not mathematically been eliminated from the playoffs, the teams will need a lot of help in the next few weeks if they are going to play in the postseason.

Check out the match highlights:

AVERBUCH SCORES LATE WINNER TO LIFT SPIRIT OVER RED STARS

The road to the playoffs got a little brighter on Saturday night for the Washington Spirit. A late goal from Yael Averbuch in the 94th minute lifted the Spirit to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Red Stars and pushed them a little closer to securing a playoff spot.

Lori Chalupny struck first for the Red Stars when she snuck a shot past a diving Ashlyn Harris in the fourth minute of the game. The Spirit however were able to equalize early in the second half with a goal from Christine Nairn, her second in as many games.

The Spirit had a scare in the second half when a goal line collision forced Harris to seek on field treatment from the training staff. Harris ultimately stayed in the game and made a game saving block against forward Christen Press in the final minutes of the game. With only two games remaining on their schedule, Washington now sits comfortably in third place with thirty-four points. The Red Stars will have the advantage of three matches left to play, though their next game will be against FC Kansas City.

Check out the match highlights:

FCKC EARN PLAYOFF SPOT IN DRAW WITH REIGN

The Saturday night matchup of the Seattle Reign FC and FC Kansas City felt like a playoff game as the two best teams took the pitch at Verizon Wireless Field. A 1-1 draw left both teams wanting more, but also knowing that they may meet again in just a few weeks with a lot more at stake.

The Blues took the early lead after Amy Rodriguez scored her twelfth goal of the season in the sixth minute. Lauren Holiday directed a pass right in front of the goal for Rodriguez who punched a shot past keeper Hope Solo.

Megan Rapinoe headed in the equalizer in the 67th minute, her third goal in the past week.

FC Kansas City at the benefit of the Washington Spirit win, did earn an official spot in the playoffs, but will have to wait until their next game on Wednesday to try to capture the number two seed.

Check out the match highlights:

FLASH STAY IN PLAYOFF HUNT WITH WIN OVER BREAKERS

The Western New York Flash were in danger of coming away from their Sunday night game against the Boston Breakers with only one point. Sonia Bermudez however scored the winning goal in stoppage time and the Flash defeated the Breakers, 4-3.

Flash veteran Abby Wambach scored a brace in her second game back from a knee injury and seems determined to power her team into the playoffs. The team still has a chance at the postseason but will need to win their final games, as well as get some help from the Chicago Red Stars and the Portland Thorns FC.

Kristie Mewis scored her first two goals of the season for the Breakers and Jazmine Reeves had the third in their losing effort.

Check out the match highlights:

THORNS KEEP PACE IN PLAYOFF RACE WITH WIN OVER DASH

The Portland Thorns FC did just enough against the Houston Dash to secure a 1-0 win on Sunday night. The win will keep the Thorns FC in fourth place, just one point shy of the third place Washington Spirit.

Vero Boquete scored her fourth goal of the season in the 54th minute. Stephanie Catley delivered a perfect cross to Boquete, who was able to convert the shot and give Portland the game winner.

The loss for the Houston Dash has officially eliminated the expansion team from the playoffs.

SBI WEEK 17 AWARDS

SBI Player of the Week: Yael Averbuch only saw a few minutes of action with the Washington Spirit on Saturday night, but she delivered the game-winning goal for the team in stoppage time. A beautiful goal and a clutch performance by the midfielder for her first goal of the season and what may prove to be a pivotal win for the Spirit.

SBI Team of the Week: The Washington Spirit had the opportunity to pick up six points this week and they won all six against two very good teams. The playoffs were nothing but a dream for this team a year ago, but now they are on target to be one of the four teams vying for the championship.

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One Response to NWSL Week 17: A Look Back

  1. AMP says:

    besides the results, spirit have been playing beautifully. honor well deserved.

    hey sarah, any chance we could get clickable links? my copy/paste button is brokey.