NWSL Week 19: A Look Back

Nadine Angerer, Lianne Sanderson

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By SARAH HALLETT

The playoffs are now set for the National Women’s Soccer League with the four teams in place after an electric final week of the regular season.

The Portland Thorns FC and the Washington Spirit joined the Seattle Reign FC and FC Kansas City to round out the four teams that will be vying for the championship in two weeks.

The Chicago Red Stars ended the season tied for fourth place at 35 points with the Washington Spirit, but the Spirit hold a 3-0-0 season record over Chicago, giving the Spirit the edge it needed to advance to the post season. Sky Blue FC also saw their miracle push for the playoffs come to an end, despite their win over the Spirit on Saturday night.

FC Kansas City will host the Portland Thorns FC on Saturday August 23rd at 1pm ET. The Washington Spirit will travel to Seattle for their match on Sunday August 24th at 8pm ET.

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

RED STARS DEFEAT BREAKERS, STAY ALIVE IN PLAYOFF RACE

The Chicago Red Stars took care of business with a 2-0 victory on their home pitch on Wednesday night over the Boston Breakers. The win allowed the Red Stars to keep pace in the playoff race, holding tight to fourth place.

Karina LeBlanc earned her fifth shutout of the season as the club knocked off the Breakers for the third time this year. Alyssa Mautz scored the game winner in the 29th minute for the Red Stars and Melissa Tancredi sealed the win with a goal in the 82nd minute.

NADIM BRACE KEEPS SKY BLUE FC IN HUNT, FLASH ELIMINATED

Sky Blue FC continued their late season push for the playoffs with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Western New York Flash on Wednesday night. A brace from Nadia Nadim was the difference in this match as she scored late in the game to give Sky Blue FC the win. It was the seventh goal from Nadim in only six matches with the team.

Sonia Bermudez came into the game midway in the second half and sparked the Flash with a goal in the 79th minute. It was a beautiful goal from distance that equalized the game and gave hope to the Flash that needed the win to stay in the playoff race. Nadim however ended those playoff dreams when she scored in the 89th minute. Kelley O’Hara also scored for Sky Blue FC and Andriana Martin scored in the first half for the Flash.

RED STARS EQUALIZE LATE TO DRAW WITH FLASH

The Chicago Red Stars had the opportunity to write their own ticket to the playoffs with a win over the Western New York Flash on Saturday night. Instead the team had to settle for a 3-3 draw and wait to see where they stood at the end of the weekend.

The Red Stars found themselves down by two goals early in the second half, but battled back and tied the game in the 93rd minute when Julie Johnston converted a penalty kick. Christen Press had two goals in the game, one off of a penalty kick in the 17th minute and the second in the 60th minute after winning a 1-on-1 play with Flash keeper Didi Haracic. It may be the penalty kick that Press didn’t convert late in the second half that will haunt her, perhaps making the difference between a win and a draw in this crucial game for the Red Stars.

SPIRIT ADVANCE TO PLAYOFFS DESPITE LOSS TO SKY BLUE FC

Sky Blue FC notched their fourth win in a row with a 1-0 victory over the Washington Spirit on Saturday night. However due to the draw between the Chicago Red Stars and the Western New York Flash, Sky Blue FC’s campaign to sneak into the final playoff position has ended. The Spirit meanwhile benefitted from that draw and will play in the postseason for the first time in their club history.

Monica Ocampo scored for Sky Blue FC in the 27th minute of the match and it proved to be enough against the Spirit who were shutout for only the third time this season. The Spirit were without their star goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, who missed her second game in a row due to concussion like symptoms.

Check out the match highlights:

MORGAN SCORES, LIFTS THORNS FC TO PLAYOFFS

It was a must-win match for the Portland Thorns FC and somehow the team found a way to hold off the Seattle Reign FC and give them only their second loss of the season. An Alex Morgan goal in the 68th minute lifted the Thorns FC to third place in the standings with a 1-0 victory, paving the way for the champions to return to the playoffs.

Morgan found the net with a short header to the left side of the goal with the assistance of a beautifully placed ball off of an Allie Long corner kick. Yet it was the ability of goalkeeper Nadine Angerer that kept Seattle at bay despite coach Laura Harvey utilizing her best players throughout the match.

Nikki Marshall left the game with a serious knee injury midway through the first half and is scheduled to undergo an MRI this week, according to the Thorns FC. Marshall is one of Portland’s key defenders and has played nearly every minute for the Thorns FC this season.

Check out the match highlights:

BREAKERS SHUTOUT DASH, END SEASON WITH A WIN

Kristie Mewis scored in the 77th minute of the match to break open a deadlocked game and give the Boston Breakers a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dash on Sunday night. Heather O’Reilly sent a pass from the left flank to the feet of Mewis who was able to flick the ball in the net past Dash keeper Erin McLeod. It was the second shutoff for Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher in the past three games.

Check out the match highlights:

SBI WEEK 19 AWARDS

SBI Player of the Week: Nadine Angerer. Although Alex Morgan may have scored the game winner, it was the tremendous effort by Angerer against the Seattle Reign FC that won the game for the Thorns. The Reign FC have scored the most goals in the league this season and seem to always find a way to win. It was an impressive effort for the current Women’s FIFA Player of the Year.

SBI Team of the Week: The Portland Thorns FC. The team controlled their own destiny again this week and found a way to beat the best in the league. After losing last weekend to the Boston Breakers, this squad was not seen as much of a threat to earn a playoff spot. Paul Riley’s club instead came out and won an improbable game and will now fight to defend their title from last season.

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9 Responses to NWSL Week 19: A Look Back

  1. Del Griffin says:

    That is a cool hairdo.

  2. Lar says:

    lets not and say we did.

  3. Remy says:

    Look at that hair. If the skills match the hair, she must be a truly awesome player.

  4. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    OH YEDELIN JUZZZ GOT SCHOOLED!! HAIR GAME OVA!!

  5. FRANK says:

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