Can you believe we just finished up the third week of the 2014 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) season? It's true and while some pieces are falling into place (like say, that stellar Seattle troop), other waters seem a little murky (like the slow starts of Sky Blue FC and FC Kansas City).
The NWSL goal scoring leaderboard has midfielder Kim Little (SEA) at the top with 4 goals, followed by Diana Matheson (WAS) and Allie Long (POR) with 3 goals a piece. Goalkeeping leaders include: 1. Hope Solo (SEA), 3-0-0 with 2 shutouts; 2. Karina LeBlanc (CHI), 1-1-0 with 1 shutout; 3. Nadine Angerer (POR), 2-0-1 with 1 shutout.
But the season is still young! So let's take a look at how the teams fared in Week 3:
Seattle Reign 3, Washington Spirit 1
Seattle Reign FC continued their unbeaten streak with a mid-week home victory over the Washington Spirit in front of 1,754 fans at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, April 23.
Reign FC opened the scoring quickly during the 3rd minute when defender Kendall Fletcher sent the ball to the back of the net courtesy of a Jess Fishlock assist. Fletcher celebrated her first goal of the season with several backflips down the field.
Reign FC midfielder Keelin Winters (48') converted one of the six corner kicks Nahomi "Naho" Kawasumi made during the match.
A deflected ball hit Fletcher's hand while inside the penalty box. Spirit Midfielder Diana Matheson (73') took the PK, scoring her third goal of the season.
During the 80th minute, Fishlock narrowly snuck past the front post to finish off the game with a goal in the far left corner.
Portland Thorns FC 3, FC Kansas City 1
In front of over 14,000 screaming fans at Portland’s Providence Park, Thorns FC striker Jessica McDonald (84', 88') converted two goals in the final six minutes to give her team their second victory of the season.
FC Kansas City outshot the Thorns in the first half, but the only score came in the way of a Portland penalty kick. After Allie Long was tripped up by the outstretched leg of FCKC defender Becky Sauerbrunn, the midfielder converted a PK to give her side a 1-0 lead at the half.
In the 56th minute, FCKC's Erika Tymrak drove down the left side towards goal and was fouled just inside of the Portland penalty box. Lauren Holiday calmly stepped to the penalty spot and easily buried the resulting PK.
Boston Breakers 3, Sky Blue FC 2
NWSL Player of the Week, Lianne Sanderson (43', 60') factored into all three goals at Harvard Stadium, giving the Breakers their first win of the season. For Sanderson, it was her first two goals of the 2014 season.
Defender Julie King (15') scored her first professional goal and also assisted on one of Sanderson's tallies. Sanderson provided the assist on King's goal as the Breakers improved to 1-2-0 on the season.
Sky Blue FC equalized in the 29th minute as Monica Ocampo took a pass from Taylor Lytle on the counter attack, got around Breakers defender Ashley Grove, and hit it over keeper Alyssa Naeher.
SBFC threatened late in the match and pulled one back in stoppage time as Ashley Nick (93+) scored off a header, originating from a Katy Freels' corner kick.
"The most important thing was that we won," said Sanderson after the match. "Coming off the back of two losses, it's not easy. But it's important to keep believing in each other and the team and what Tom's (Durkin) trying to do."
Seattle Reign 2, Houston Dash 0
Seattle Reign FC remain unbeaten following their victory over the Houston Dash on Sunday, April 27. Scottish international Kim Little (19', 39') registered her second two-goal performance of the season and now leads the NWSL in goals with four.
Reign FC opened the scoring in the 19th minute, after striker Sydney Leroux was brought down in the box by Dash midfielder Becky Edwards. The resulting penalty was taken by Little who stepped up to the spot and placed the ball past goalkeeper Erin McLeod, giving Little her second converted penalty this season.
Little scored again in the 39th minute after Bev Goebel's through-ball split the Dash backline and fell to her feet. Little cut back to her right foot and placed in a strike to give her a brace.
“I truly believe that Kim is one of the best number 10’s in the world,” said head coach and general manager Laura Harvey. “The second goal really showed her class more than anything else."
The win is Seattle’s third of the season and keeps Reign FC in first place in the league standings with nine points.
Washington Spirit 1, Chicago Red Stars 0
With the sting of Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Seattle barely subsided, the Spirit regrouped and rebounded dramatically to hand the Chicago Red Stars their first loss of the season. Defender Tori Huster provided the fireworks for the night, knocking home the game-winner for the Spirit victory.
“It’s very pleasing to pick up three points on the road against a very tough team,” said Head Coach Mark Parsons. “It’s been a long stretch for us and to put in a performance like that shows the character of this team. Grabbing a clean sheet is very important to us and although we defended as a team, the back four and Ashlyn (Harris) really deserve that after all of their hard work these opening games.”
Upcoming Matches (all times are EST):
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Seattle Reign FC vs. Sky Blue FC at Yurcak Field, 7pm
Chicago Red Stars vs. FC Kansas City at Durwood Stadium, 8pm
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Seattle Reign FC vs. Washington Spirit at Maryland SoccerPlex, 6:30pm
Portland Thorns FC vs. Western New York Flash at Sahlen's Stadium, 7pm
Boston Breakers vs. Sky Blue FC at Yurcak Field, 7pm
FC Kansas City vs. Houston Dash at BBVA Compass Stadium, 8pm
This season's NWSL matches are available live and in high definition on YouTube.
For updates on all NWSL news follow @NWSL_Examiner on Twitter!