The Soccer Desk

NWSL: Top of the Table Clash Awaits in Week 11

Photo Credit to: Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Thorns FC

As the 11th week in the inagural NWSL season is now upon us, teams are looking to make a push for the playoff positions in the standings. Can the Flash make it to seven games unbeaten as they travel to the windy city to face the Red Stars?

Wednesday, June 19

Chicago Red Stars v. Western New York Flash

The last time that these two teams met was on May 24 when the Flash came from behind to secure the win. The Red Stars will certainly have redemption on their minds when they host Western New York on Wednesday night. While the Flash will be without US National team players Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd due to National Team commitments, they certainly have the firepower to adjust and continue their unbeaten streak. Chicago will be without Canadian Internationals Erin McLeod and Carmelina Moscato who are also on National team duty with Canada, but coach Rory Danes is prepared to field his best staring XI against the Flash.

With a much improved Red Stars team, they certainly have the ability to win against the Flash, but slowing down one of the hottest teams in the NWSL is no easy task. If Chicago is going to be successful, Lori Chalupny will have to be a factor. If Chalupny scores there is a good chance Chicago walks away with all three points. For the Flash on the other hand, look for Veronica Perez or Adriana to play big roles in this game. Perez is coming off a strong game against the Spirit scoring the game’s first goal.

My Prediction: The Flash make it seven unbeaten and hold on to third place in the standings.

Saturday, June 22

Sky Blue FC v. Portland Thorns FC

The two teams that sit at the top of the NWSL table will go head-to-head once again. In their last meeting, Sky Blue came away with a 1-0 win at JELD-WEN. Both teams could have their US and Canadian National team players available with Canada playing Germany on Wednesday and the US playing South Korea on Thursday. The Thorns would certainly welcome back Alex Morgan, Christine Sinclair and Rachel Buehler while Sky Blue would be happy to see Kelly O’Hara, Sophie Schmidt and Christie Rampone back in the mix. If the National team players are not available, it will still be a great game.

Danielle Foxhoven has found her scoring touch lately with two goals in as many games for the Thorns, while Karina LeBlanc was solid in their last match against the Reign making a superb kick save stop on a penalty kick. Sky Blue on the other hand has the Australian sharp shooter Lisa De Vanna helping to keep them at the top of the table. If the Thorns can find a way to keep De Vanna out of the run of play, a win is possible. Letting De Vanna loose will spell trouble for Portland. If Sky Blue want to remain at the top of the table, then they will have to find a way to get De Vanna going and have a great team effort to secure the win.

My Prediction: Another close affair for these two teams ends in a Sky Blue victory.

Sunday, June 23

Western New York Flash v. Seattle Reign

Western New York return to Sahlen Stadium to welcome the Seattle Reign to town. This will be the first meeting between these two teams and it should be a great game. Seattle is still looking for their first win of the year and will be searching for the upset in New York. US keeper Hope Solo will be back from National team duty and Megan Rapinoe could dawn a Reign uniform for the first time this year. The Flash will have the league’s scoring leader Abby Wambach and midfielder Carli Lloyd back as well. Can Seattle’s defense fend off the Flash attack?

Laura Harvey has not had the kind of start she was hoping for as the Reign’s head coach, but she is not giving up. Seattle is expected to announce some roster changes this week, but it is too soon to tell if those changes will help them on Sunday against Western New York. The Reign are lacking a finisher up front, but once they have that, the wins will surely come for them. The Flash will have to remain playing the disciplined style of soccer that has been on display lately, and using the midfield to start the attack forward.

My Prediction: The Flash make it eight in a tow by over-powering the Reign who will remain win less for the time being.

FC Kansas City v. Washington Spirit

Kansas City is coming off a disappointing home loss to the Chicago Red Stars last weekend and will be happy to see their US and Canadian players back. The Spirit are in a similar situation suffering another shut-out defeat against the Western New York Flash last Saturday. While Washington will be happy to see Diana Matheson, Robyn Gayle and Ali Kreiger back from National team duty, they will be hoping that Conny Pohlers can make her Spirit debut. Pohlers joined the team on loan from Wolfsburg last week but all of her paperwork was not complete so she hasn’t been able to play yet.

If Pohlers is available for selection, she could be exactly the offensive spark the Spirit need. The Blues have been in good form lately, but the return of Lauren Cheney will certainly be a boost for them. With two very contrasting styles on display, it is hard to say who has the upper hand. Kansas City will need a win to stay in fourth place while the Spirit are searching for their second win of the season.

My Prediction: While Pohlers will be the offensive spark the Spirit need, the Blues will rebound and come away victorious.