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USWNT Roundup

Abby Wambach Leads Flash to NWSL Title

The American star had a goal and an assist as she led the Western New York Flash to the inaugural regular season title. Next up: the playoffs. Will Alex Morgan be ready for the Portland Thorns?
BY Maura Gladys Posted
August 20, 2013
11:00 AM
Abby Wambach and the Western New York Flash ended the regular season on the right foot with a 2-1 win over the Boston Breakers that handed them the NWSL regular season title. Wambach assisted Samantha Kerr in the 23rd minute and added one for herself five minutes later.

The win put the Flash on 38 points for the season, tied with FC Kansas City and the Portland Thorns, but the Flash had a better head-to-head record and the best goal differential in the NWSL. The second stat, and the Flash’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs, is the result of Adrianna Franch's season-long excellence in goal and the scoring prowess of Wambach and Carli Lloyd. The netminder led the league in saves with 98, posted seven shutouts, and had a 0.91 goals against average. The frontline pair combined for 19 total goals. The Flash will host Sky Blue FC on Saturday night.

Lauren Holiday capped off a dominant season by winning the Golden Boot. She led the league in goals and assists with 12 and nine, respectively. Holiday has consistently been the engine of FC Kansas City, dominating the midfield and creating opportunities for herself and her teammates. Still, her performance wasn’t enough to win the regular season title. Kansas City and needed a win or a tie against the Chicago Red Stars to clinch the first seed but a late goal from Jennifer Hoy gave the opponents a 2-1 win.

Cheney and Kansas City will take on the Portland Thorns in next weekend’s semi-final match after the Thorns defeated the Seattle Reign 2-1. Rachel Buehler played 90 minutes for the Thorns, while Tobin Heath was an unused substitute. Also absent from Portland’s lineup was Alex Morgan who suffered an MCL strain last weekend. Morgan did some light jogging at Portland’s training last week, and said she hoped to be ready for this weekend’s playoff match. That timeline, however, might be a little ambitious. A typical MCL strain takes between two and four weeks to completely heal and the Thorns’ semifinal match is 17 days after Morgan suffered the strain. Megan Rapinoe tied a neat bow on her brief time in the NWSL this season, scoring Seattle’s only goal in the loss. Rapinoe played 12 games for the Reign but added a much needed injection of life into the struggling franchise. She tallied five goals and one assist, helping the Reign to a 3-1-1 record in July.

In the week’s final match, the Washington Spirit tied Sky Blue FC 1-1. Spirit players Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris will now head to Europe to play with Tyreso FF for the fall. Krieger recently spoke with Soccerwire about the move, and said Champions League play was a big draw for the defender, who won the 2008 UEFA Women’s Cup with FCC Franktfurt.

Krieger also hinted that heading to Europe during the off-season might turn into a trend. “If we all continue to play and stay on top of it, and stay sharp, in the end, we’re helping the national team succeed,” she told Soccerwire. “Until our league goes nine months out of the year, I think you’ll see a lot of girls going over and taking those opportunities that maybe wouldn’t have [otherwise]."

Finally, ESPN’s Nine for IX series is debuting what looks like a fantastic film on the 1999 Women’s World Cup team, "The 99ers." Produced by former national team star Julie Foudy, the film will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the tournament that changed women’s soccer. The film debuts Tuesday at 8pm EST.

Maura Gladys, a featured ASN columnist, works in production for KICKTV. She also runs the goalkeeping blog All You Need Is Glove.

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