The Soccer Desk

NWSL: Flash Continue to Shine in Week 10 Action

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As the 10th week in the NWSL came to a close, the race at the top remained in a dead-heat between Sky Blue FC and the Portland Thorns. Both teams sit at the top of the table with 25 points after 11 games played. Not far behind them is the Western New York Flash with 17 points, and FC Kansas City nipping at the heels of the Flash with 16 points. The standings are bound to change over the next few weeks, but one thing is clear, the race to the final is on now.

Thursday, June 13

Chicago Red Stars v. FC Kansas City

The Red Stars saw their two game winning streak snapped by FC Kansas City Thursday night as the Blues topped Chicago 2-0. Kansas City’s Casey Lloyd got the Blues on the board in the 27th minute beating keeper Vancil on a penalty kick to give KC a 1-0 lead. Chicago was unable to mount any real offensive threat and went into the half with only three shots on goal. The Kansas City defense proved to be too much for the Red Stars as they held strong in front of Bianca Henninger who was making the start in goal.

The second half saw the Blues keep the offensive pressure on and it paid off in the 66th minute when Courtney Jones beat Vancil in the top left corner to secure the win. With six regular starters out either on National team duty or nursing injury, Blues coach Vlatko Andonovski had to have been pleased with how his team played on the road. While Chicago saw their two game winning streak stopped there, they knew that they could get back on the right foot as they were traveling to KC for a back-to-back match up on Sunday.

Saturday, June 15

Washington Spirit v. Western New York Flash

The Washington Spirit haven’t been in action since May 25th and had some rust to shake off, while the Flash continued their strong play again to earn the win. The Spirit were without defenders Ali Kreiger and Robyn Gale and midfielder Diana Matheson who are on International duty but they were able to welcome defender Toni Pressley who joined from Russian club Ryazan VDV earlier this month. Western New York were without US International’s Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd, and Australian International Sam Kerr, but that didn’t stop them from scoring. In just the 10th minute, Veronica Perez would beat Ashlyn Harris to give the Flash a 1-0 lead. Perez’s shot came off of Harris’s hands to the right post and went in, giving Western New York the opening goal. The Flash would double their lead in the 31st minute when Vicki Di Martino beat Harris to make it 2-0.

The Spirit defense would hold strong in the second half not allowing a shot on goal, but they could not find a breakthrough offensively to bring the game back within reach. The Flash defense was up to task and Franch made sure that she was not letting a goal past her in this one. While the Spirit are awaiting the arrival of German International Conny Pohlers to help spark their offense, the Flash rolled on with their winning streak and sit in third place after this weekend’s action.

 

Sunday, June 16

Portland Thorns v. Seattle Reign

The Cascadian rivalry between the Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign was on full display this weekend as the two teams met at JELD-WEN field for the third time this year. Both of the previous two meetings saw Portland come away victorious and this time would be no different. With Alex Morgan, Christine Sinclair and Rachel Buehler away on International duty, Portland head coach Cindy Parlow-Cone made some changes up front that paid dividends. Laura Harvey would be without US keeper Hope Solo and Welsh International Jessica Fishlock, whose absence in the midfield was felt. After a scoreless opening 45 minutes, Harvey had to be feeling good about how her team played holding the Thorns to two shots on goal.

The second half would prove to be their undoing when in the 48th minute, Danielle Foxhoven would break the deadlock to give the Thorns a 1-0 lead. Foxhoven curled a strike past Reign keeper Michelle Betos, who got the start over Kopmeyer. Portland would double their lead in the 67th minute on a goal from Meleana Shim. It was Shim’s first professional goal and assist. Thorns keeper Karina LeBlanc was able to keep the clean sheet after a jaw-dropping kick save on a penalty shot in the 84th minute from the Reign’s Christine Narin. Portland remains tied at the top of the table with Sky Blue, and Seattle are still looking for their first win of the season.

FC Kansas City v. Chicago Red Stars

The Red Stars were looking for some redemption after a loss at home to Kansas City Thursday night, and it came in the form of a comeback on Sunday. After conceding a fourth minute goal to Renae Cuellar, Chicago was determined not to lose again to the Blues. Their persistent efforts paid off in the 29th minute when Inka Grings fired her shot past Henninger to tie the game at 1-1. The Red Stars were glad to go into half with the score line level.

The second half saw Chicago break the deadlock in the 58th minute. Ella Masar found the back of the net with a low one-timed shot into the corner. Now it was Kansas City’s turn to search for an equalizer that never came. The Red Stars defense proved up to task today and would not concede the lead. Lori Chalupny earned a penalty kick in the first minute of stoppage time that would certainly seal the win for the visitors. German International Sonja Fuss converted her PK shot past Henninger to give Chicago a 3-1 advantage. Tonight the points belonged to the Red Stars as they found redemption from their loss on Thursday.

Boston Breakers v. Sky Blue FC

Sky Blue were looking for a better performance after being shut out by the Flash last week against a Breakers team that hasn’t lost at home. The visitors got on the board early after dominating possession. Lisa De Vanna beat Ashley Phillips just four minutes in for the 1-0 lead. Sky Blue would double their lead in the 26th minute on a goal from Monica Ocampo. Ocampo was able to get possession of a ball that deflected off a Boston defender and slide it past Phillips for the 2-0 lead. That score line would hold through the half.

The Breakers came out in the second half looking to get on the board quickly, and  they certainly did. Joanna Lohman would beat Brittany Cameron to make it a 2-1 game. Just 10 minutes later, Sky Blue would restore their two-goal lead courtesy of Katy Freels. Freels was able to one-time her shot into the upper corner of the net to make it 3-1. Boston was once again on the back foot looking for another goal. The final goal came in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Kyah Simon scored a consolation goal for the Breakers. The win kept Sky Blue in a tie with Portland for first place in the league.

(Photo courtesy of the Washington Spirit)