NWSL Rewind: Orlando out as playoff picture comes to focus

nadia nadim week 17 rewind

by TOM SLATER

Houston Dash 4, Orlando Pride 1: The fourth time was the charm for the Houston Dash. After losing three straight contests this year to the Orlando Pride, the Dash prevailed in a 4-2 contest in Houston.

The Dash (5-8-4, 19 points) scored the game’s first three goals only to see the Pride (6-11, 18 points) mount a late comeback to cut the lead to 3-2. Kealia Ohai’s second goal of the night sealed Orlando’s fate.

With the loss, Orlando was officially eliminated from the NWSL playoff race.

Janine Beckie, Polina and Ohai scored for Houston, giving them a lead after just over an hour’s worth of play. Alex Morgan and Kristine Edmonds scored seven minutes apart late in the match but Ohai beat goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris on a one-on-one situation in stoppage time to end Orlando’s comeback.

Ohai’s brace gave her nine goals this season, which now leads the NWSL.

The game was halted in the second half when a fan rush the field and tried to approach Morgan.

Washington Spirit 1, Western New York Flash 1:  The draw was all the Spirit needed to clinch a playoff spot and they got that.

Washington (11-3-3, 36 points) were led by a goal from Katie Stengel and some outstanding goalkeeping from Kelsey Wys to secure the one point they needed to clinch a playoff spot for the third straight season.

Stengel gave the Spirit the lead in the 64th minute when Crystal Dunn found her open in front of the net. Stengel beat goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo who had come out to challenge the forward and then jumped over the diving keeper and slammed a hard shot into  the net.

In the 86th minute, Christine Nairn made a jumping save, heading the ball off the line after a shot from Western New York. Just seconds later, after chaos in the box, Mewis collected and equalized with a low driven ball from the top of the penalty box. Wys was able to get a hand on it, but could not stop the force of the ball, bringing the score to 1-1.

Wys recorded 12 saves throughout the 90 minutes, several of which were deciding factors in the Spirit securing the draw.In the 37th minute, a cutback cross landed right at the feet of Western New York’s Lynn Williams just inches from the top of the six yard box. Lynn Williams blasted a ball toward Wys, but her quick reaction allowed her to tip the ball away from the net to roll out for a Flash corner.

Chicago Red Stars 2, Seattle Reign: 2; Seattle moved out to an early 2-0 lead only to see Chicago tie the match on a late penalty kick from Christen Press in the 79th minute.

Chicago (8-4-5, 29 points) extended its unbeaten streak to five games. Seattle is 6-5-6 for 24 points and sits in fifth place, four points behind Western New York for the final playoff spot.

Seattle forged a two-goal lead before the 10-minute mark. In the fifth minute, Beverly Yanez slipped the ball through to strike partner Manon Melis, who calmly finished past onrushing goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher for a well-worked tally. A mere four minutes later, Seattle struck again on a curling free-kick by Lauren Barnes that found its way inside the right post. Reign FC could have added a third around the quarter-hour mark, but Naeher sprinted off her line to deny Melis another one-on-one strike on Kim Little’s excellent through ball.

The Red Stars began its comeback in the 27th minute. Vanessa DiBernardo swinging in a corner kick from the left that found Sofia Huerta at the back stick for a close-range header into the upper ninety. The goal marked Huerta’s fifth of 2016, with DiBernardo bagging her sixth assist.

With 11 minutes remaining, Casey Short made a strong run into the penalty area and was fouled. Press stepped up and converted easily for the game-tying goal, her sixth of the season.

Portland Thorns FC 5, Boston Breakers 1: Nadia Nadim scored three goals to lead the Thorns to an easy win over the last-place Breakers.

Portland also got goals from Christine Sinclair and Allie Long in the victory.

With the win, Thorns FC (9-3-5, 32pts) currently sit in second place in the NWSL standings, four points behind the Washington Spirit (36pts), while holding a three-point lead over Chicago (29pts) and a four-point advantage over Western New York Flash (28pts).

Sinclair scored her first club goal in more than two months to get the Thorns off to a quick start

Nadim scored once in the first half and twice in the second to bring her season total to eight, most on the team.