Quiet NWSL Week Sets up Exciting Final Weekend
All four playoff teams enter the NWSL’s final weekend with a chance to finish first, giving several national team stars the chance to shine. Meanwhile, Sydney Leroux is serious about playing spoiler.
BY Maura Gladys PostedThe final week of the NWSL season is shaping up to be a nail biter, with all four playoff-bound teams vying for the top seed. The Portland Thorns, FC Kansas City, Western NY Flash, and Sky Blue FC have clinched the league’s four playoff spots, but how those teams will lineup come playoff time is still very much up for debate thanks to this week’s games. Kansas City could have clinched first place with a win or draw this weekend, but the Boston Breakers had other plans. A Sydney Leroux goal helped Boston to a 1-0 victory. The Breakers also beat the Portland Thorns 2-1. Heather O’Reilly had a goal and Leroux had an assist. The Breakers are now 2-0-1 with player/coach and former national team player Cat Whitehill in charge. After the Thorns lost to the Breakers, and subsequently lost Alex Morgan with an MCL injury, they rebounded with a scoreless draw against the Western NY Flash. The tie was key for the free-falling Thorns, as it kept them in the hunt for a top playoff spot. While they struggled to create scoring chances without Morgan up top, Rachel Buehler and the Thorns defense effectively shut down Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd. Lloyd did net a goal earlier in the week thanks to a slick give and go with her U.S. teammate. The Washington Spirit won more games in four days last week than they had in the entire first four and a half months of the season. The club defeated both the Chicago Red Stars and the Seattle Reign by 1-0 scores. Lori Lindsey and Ali Krieger played 90 minutes in the win over Seattle, while Krieger came on for 25 minutes against Chicago. As it stands, Kansas City has 38 points, while Sky Blue, Portland, and Western New York all sit on 35. No team enters the last week of the regular season with any true momentum, and all four playoff teams will play a team that has already been eliminated. Wambach is due for a big game, while the Thorns will struggle without Morgan. Sky Blue is grasping for consistency. In Europe, Whitney Engen’s Liverpool Ladies lost 4-2 to Lincoln City on penalties in their continental Cup competition and defeated Bristol 4-3 to regain a share of the top spot in the FAWSL. Engen played 90 minutes in both matches. Tyresö FF suffered a rare loss this weekend, falling to LdB Malmö 3-2. Both Christen Press and Meghan Klingenberg played the full 90, but didn’t register on the score sheet. It was the first league loss for the Swedish side since last October, and drops them into a first-place tie with LdB Malmö. National team defender Ali Krieger will be joining Press and Klingenberg, along with current Spirit teammate Ashlyn Harris and fellow defender Engen at Tyresö once the Spirit’s regular season ends on Sunday. The Equalizer reports that Krieger signed a short-term contract to play with the Swedish side for the second half of their season. Krieger spent five extremely successful years across the pond with FFC Frankfurt from 2007-2011. Maura Gladys, a featured ASN columnist, works in production for KICKTV. She also runs the goalkeeping blog All You Need Is Glove.
August 13, 2013
August 13, 2013