The ninth week of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is in the books and as in past weeks, the action was fierce and fiery. Seattle Reign FC (9-0-2) remains atop the NWSL table with 29 points, with the help of the NWSL goal-scoring leader Kim Little (11 goals in 11 games).
Seattle also has the NWSL’s leading goalkeeper, in Hope Solo. In Saturday’s match against the Chicago Red Stars, Solo made four saves and has now passed Karina LeBlanc for the best goals against average in the NWSL at 0.818.
The past week also saw a shuffling in the standings, with FC Kansas City (6-4-3, 21 pts) taking over the second place spot all by themselves. Washington Spirit (6-4-1, 19 pts) dropped into a tie for third place with Chicago Red Stars (6-4-1, 19 pts). And hanging tough in 5th place are the Western New York Flash (4-5-2, 14 pts).
With newly-signed players entering the NWSL in upcoming weeks and many more departing for international duties, expect even more surprising results, as well as the table shuffling to continue!
In the meantime, here’s how the NWSL fared in week 9:
FC Kansas City 1, Western New York Flash 0 (Wednesday, June 4, 2014)
ARod strikes again as Amy Rodriguez and her FC Kansas City teammates shut out the Western New York Flash in front of 2,674 people on Verizon Wireless Field.
The lone goal came from ARod (her ninth on the season) in the final minute of the first half on a pass from Leigh Ann Robinson.
A caution was issued early in the first half when Vicky Losada was shown a yellow card for a reckless foul in the eleventh minute.The second half saw more intensity than the first; both teams became more physical.
The big moment of the match was when fan-favorite, Amy LePeilbet took the pitch in the 84th minute. LePeilbet has been rehabbing a knee injury and sat out the last NWSL season as well as national duty. Abby Wambach did not play due to injury.
Washington Spirit 1, Chicago Red Stars 0 (Wednesday, June 4, 2014)
The Spirit moved up in the NWSL standings with their second win against the Chicago team this season.
As with most Spirit games, goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris kept her team in the game with a solid performance against a very dangerous Red Stars team. Center backs Ali Krieger and Tori Huster also playing big parts in securing the shutout.
The deadlock wouldn’t be broken until the 78th minute when spirit mid, Veronica Perez took a shot from outside the 18-yard box and deflected back by goalkeeper Karina Le Blanc. Jodie Taylor jumped on the return and slotted it home for what would stand as the winning goal. Taylor, who was passed over by Mark Sampson on the current England Women’s National Team, is finding her form in the NWSL and currently has 6 goals (behind leaders Amy Rodriguez and Kim Little).
FC Kansas City 2, Boston Breakers 0 (Saturday, June 7, 2014)
Lauren Holiday punched in two penalty kicks in the first half, resulting in the only goals of the match.
The first goal came in the 14th minute when Amy Rodriguez was tripped up and fouled just inside the box. Holiday stepped up and easily netted the goal past Boston goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to take the early lead.
The goal boosted FCKC’s confidence and saw a clear momentum take shape. Sneaking between two defenders inside the box, Erika Tymrak was taken down for a foul. Holiday (35’) once again stepped up to the line and went the opposite way to throw off Naeher for the second and final goal of the night.
Seattle Reign FC 3, Chicago Red Stars 1 (Saturday, June 7, 2014)
This was a game of Feast or Famine, with the feast coming in the last half of the match. The Red Stars drew first blood in the 63rd minute, after Australian international and former Reign FC midfielder Emily van Egmond headed one past goalkeeper Hope Solo after a failed clearance.
Just three minutes later, forward Bev Goebel was tackled in the box resulting in a foul. Scottish international Kim Little (66’) did what she’s been doing all season, taking and converting PKs with ease. Forward Sydney Leroux (69’) scored her second goal of the season, sending a blistering strike from outside the box off a defender, past a leaping Karina LeBlanc, and just under the crossbar.
Little (77’) put the game out of reach and scored her league-leading 11th goal of the season with her second PK conversion after Leroux was fouled in the box.
Western New York Flash 5, Portland Thorns 0 (Saturday, June 7, 2014)
Paired with the strong offensive showing, the Flash posted one of their best defensive performances of the season, as goalkeeper Lydia Williams picked up the first shutout of her NWSL career.
This was the match the BAON Nation has been waiting all season for – the 2014 NWSL debut of Alex Morgan. But despite the star forward’s return from injury, by halftime the fans couldn’t wait for the match to be over.
It was McCall Zerboni (11’) who opened the scoring off a Vicky Losada corner kick with a brilliant back-to-the-net heel flick past Thorns keeper German international Nadine Angerer.
The fireworks started in the 27th minute when Angerer was shown a straight red when challenging Samantha Kerr in the box. Backup goalkeeper, Michelle Betos entered for the Thorns but Carli Lloyd (28’) buried the PK.
Kerr (32’) struck on a mean header off another Losada corner kick. Though Kerr’s first attempt hit the near post, the ball came right back to her easily heading it into the open net to put the Flash up by three by halftime.
Kerr (47+’) completed her brace before the first half ended, as she and teammate Jasmyne Spencer ran passes between Thorns defenders, leading Kerr to finish them off with another great goal.
Lloyd (51’) found her second of the match, capitalizing on a smooth feed from Kerr. With a triangle of players in front of her, Kerr was able to draw all three Thorns defenders and found a wide-open Lloyd at the top of the box. Betos didn’t stand a chance against the Carli Lloyd blast.
In addition to Morgan, Veronica Boquete and Step Catley also saw their NWSL debuts spoiled by the Flash.
Houston Dash 3, Sky Blue FC 0 (Sunday, June 8, 2014)
The Dash put together perhaps their most complete performance of the season in their first-ever shut-out win on the road in New Jersey.
Tiffany McCarty (10’) got the Dash on the board early with a curling shot just over Sky Blue goalkeeper Jill Loyden. This was the first time that the Dash have scored an opening goal, as they’ve played from behind in each of their previous 10 games.
Ella Masar (20’) powered a header from a Becky Edwards cross that Loyden was only able to deflect into the net.
The third goal came off a rare Loyden mistake when the Sky Blue keeper came off her line for a ball at the top of the box, but wasn’t able to clear it as she collided with her own defender. McCarty (80’) picked up the loose ball and chipped it to the open net.
Upcoming Matches (all times are ET):
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Boston Breakers vs Washington Spirit, Harvard Stadium at 7pm
Houston Dash vs. WNY Flash, BBVA Compass Stadium at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Houston Dash vs. FC Kansas City, BBVA Compass Stadium at 9pm
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC, Benedictine U. Sports Complex at 2pm
Portland Thorns FC vs. Washington Spirit, Providence Park at 5pm
All NWSL matches are available live and in high definition on YouTube.
For updates on all NWSL news follow @NWSL_Examiner on Twitter!