The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is still surprising fans in this third week of play. FC Kansas City recorded their first win of the 2015 season, Sky Blue FC ended their 7-game undefeated streak (carrying over from last year), and the Breakers came away with a much-needed win against an on-fire Houston Dash team.
These were some of the last matches before the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) players depart for international duties pre-Women’s World Cup. They will return to the league after the end of Women’s World Cup, which runs from June 6 to July 5, 2015 in Canada. Here’s how the NWSL weekend matches stacked up:
FC Kansas City 1, Seattle Reign 0
The much anticipated NWSL championship rematch between FCKC and Seattle Reign kicked off at Swope Soccer Village in front of 2,466 fans in Kansas City. With the home team struggling out of the gate, Coach Vlatko Andonovski came out with a little different formation which featured Sarah Hagen on top next to Amy Rodriguez and Jen Buczkowski as the lone center midfielder.
Three minutes into the second half, FC Kansas City forward Sarah Hagen played a through ball for Rodriguez to put her in behind Seattle’s back-line where she chipped a shot over Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo to put the home side up 1-0.
Throughout the second half, both teams created offensive opportunities but couldn’t find the back of the net despite recording 10 shots each. Reign FC almost had its equalizer in the 75th minute when Megan Rapinoe took a shot from the top of the box that almost snuck by FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
“First of all, I want to thank my players,” said FC Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “They gave everything on the field. Also, I want to congratulate Seattle on putting on a big fight. We are really happy with the result.”
Chicago Red Stars 2, Portland Thorns FC 2
It only took Christen Press four minutes to bag her first goal of the game. The play started with an on-point long ball by Lori Chalupny directed towards Press, who cut to her right then sent a beautiful curler past the outstretched Nadine Angerer for the go-ahead goal.
Another four minutes later, it was Press again, as she took a ball by midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, cut to her left and fired at the goal from inside the box. The ball took a deflection off defender Courtney Niemiec, then slipped underneath Angerer.
Just before the half-hour mark, Allie Long fed Christine Sinclair at the top of the box where she fired through traffic for a well-placed effort inside the left post. The visitors nearly tied things up four minutes from the halftime whistle, as former Portland goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc came up with a point-blank parry to keep out Sinclair’s toe-poke from close range.
Early in the second half, Portland fan-favorite Mana Shim tied up the score as she picked up a loose ball at the edge of the penalty area then found the inside of the far post with a left-footed drive.
Washington Spirit 3, Sky Blue FC 1
Sky Blue FC suffered its first defeat of the NWSL season, falling to the visiting Washington Spirit. Washington got on the board early in the 6th minute when Spirit forward Francisca Ordega fed the ball to Chrystal Dunn, who immediately struck a hard shot beyond the reach of Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Brittany Cameron.
Before the close of the opening half, Dunn (who was named NWSL Player of the Week for week 3) was able to strike again for the visiting Spirit in the 40th minute. After being delivered a well-placed feed from the midfield, Dunn fired a point blank shot that Cameron was somehow able to punch away. However, Dunn was there for the rebound and struck the ball into the open net.
In the 48th minute, Ordega collected on the left side of the penalty area before sending a hard roller to the front of the frame, where midfielder Christine Nairn one-timed a hard shot into the back of the net.
Sky Blue FC then responded in the 62nd minute on a well-orchestrated play that started from a free kick by captain Christie Rampone in the midfield. After striking the ball forward, O’Hara continued its trajectory on a header that found Danish striker Nadia Nadim on the left side of the penalty area. Nadim then took a few touches to open up space before chipping to midfielder Katy Freels on the near post, who headed in the goal.
“Washington was able to punish us tonight on the counter,” said Jim Gabarra, Sky Blue FC technical director and head coach. “We squandered some chances throughout the game, and we need to rectify those problems going forward. As deflating as their three goals were, I give credit to our team for continuing to battle back.”
Boston Breakers 3, Houston Dash 2
The Breakers wasted no time putting pressure on Houston’s back line. In the eighth minute, Rafinha sent a corner kick into the box that bounced off several players in front of Houston keeper Bianca Henninger before defender Julie King knocked it in for her first of the year.
Seven minutes later forward Stephanie McCaffrey burst down the left flank and then into the box before sliding the ball to Nkem Ezurike, who chipped in a low drive to give the Breakers a 2-0 lead.
Houston gained steam in the 35th minute when Jessica McDonald scored the first of her two goals on the night. Kealia Ohai sent in a cross from the left side where McDonald was there to head it past Breakers keeper Alyssa Naeher. The Dash came close to tying the match in the 45th minute had it not been for a massive save by Naeher, who stopped a well-hit ball by Morgan Brian.
The Dash leveled the match in the 68th minute when McDonald just beat Naeher to ball at the top of the box and chipped it past the USWNT keeper. In the 72nd minute, Kristie Mewis sent a free kick from 25 yards out to the far post where Kassey Kallman got a head on it, as did King, but as the ball came toward ground, Carli Lloyd knocked it into her own goal.
“It was a huge turnaround confidence-wise,” said Breakers’ head coach Tom Durkin. “They battled. Getting control of our nerves was a big problem in Portland (a 4-1 loss April 11). We didn’t settle in until we were down 2-nil. Kudos to the girls today because the spirit was really good. We’re a really young team, but I really like this team. I have a lot of confidence that this group of players is going to come together, they’re going to gel. We just need time with them.”
Week 4 matches:
Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC – Saturday, May 2 at Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, 6 p.m. (ET)
Western New York Flash vs. Boston Breakers – Saturday, May 2 at Sahlen’s Stadium, 7 p.m. (ET)
Houston Dash vs. FC Kansas City – Saturday, May 2 at BBVA Compass Stadium, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
Seattle Reign VC vs. Washington Spirit – Saturday, May 2 at Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium, 10 p.m. (ET)
Portland Thorns FC have a bye.
All NWSL matches can be seen live and in high-definition webstream available at YouTube.com/NWSL
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