Hot Summer for Kerr and Sky Blue Continues at Seattle

Piscataway, NJ - Wednesday June 28, 2017: Game action during a regular season National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) match between Sky Blue FC and the Orlando Pride at Yurcak Field.  Orlando defeated Sky Blue, 3-2.

By TOM SLATER

sky blue logoThere’s no denying that Sam Kerr has owned the long hot summer.

Kerr, 23, has won just about every award she’s been eligible for in 2017. Player of the Month(s). Player of the Week. Goal of the Week. And that’s only the ones available in the National Women’s Soccer League. And it’s only July.

Add to her résumé ownership of the career scoring record of both Sky Blue and the NWSL.

She was also Player of the Year in her native Australia’s W-League for the 2016-17 season. Kerr is certainly one of the favorites to win the NWSL’s Most Valuable Player Award.

After this weekend’s game at Seattle, Kerr will shift to international play for Australia in four-team the Tournament of Nations, which will be played in the United States.

But first there’s a trip the Pacific Northwest where third-place Sky Blue (7-6-2, 23 points) will play the fifth-place Reign (5-3-6, 21) on Saturday night (10 p.m. Eastern) in the last match before the league’s second international break.

Kerr leads Sky Blue and the NWSL with 10 goals and 3 assists. All her goals have come from the run of play and for the last two weeks, they’ve come late in games to help Sky Blue rescue four points.

She set a league record with the fastest ever hat trick in the final 12 minutes of Sky Blue’s 3-2 win over FC Kansas City two weeks ago. Last weekend, she scored in the 90th minute on a clever header in a 2-2 draw with visiting Chicago.

Those two games are a microcosm of a familiar season-long theme: Fall behind early then play like madwomen to catch up in the final 45 minutes.

Sky Blue has recovered a league-best eight points from losing positions this season and recovered to wipe out a deficit six times this season. In all the team has fallen behind 12 times in 2017. Sky Blue has been the league’s best team playing catch up, outscoring the opponents by 16-8 after halftime. Ten of those goals have come after the 75th minute, twice as many as any other team in the league.

Sky Blue features a young defense in front of the rookie goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Sheridan, a Canadian international, leads the league in saves with 60.

The Reign are unbeaten in their last 14 matches and have scored in each of the previous 25 games – at Memorial Stadium. Seattle has lost just two out of its previous 40 home games and has gone undefeated in eight games at home. Sky Blue, however, is one of those two teams to win at Seattle.

Coach Christy Holly and his team have are in a good position to reach the postseason for the first time in four years with only one out of the remaining 10 games against a team in playoff contention – a Sept. 24 against the visiting North Carolina in the final home game of the regular season.

The Reign enter the match on the heels of a 1-1 home draw with the Boston Breakers in Week 13. Nahomi Kawasumi notched her fourth goal of the season and Haley Kopmeyer made two saves as Seattle recorded its league-high sixth draw in 2017.

Seattle’s Megan Rapinoe trails Kerr in the goal-scoring race with nine and it tied with Orlando’s Marta.

Notes

Striker Kim DeCesare was waived by Sky Blue this week. DeCesare played for three years with Sky Blue. She did not get on the field this year but started 7 games over 15 appearances in 2015 and 2016. DeCesare is expected to continue her career overseas.