NWSL Rewind Week 11: Naho makes great return for Seattle

naho

by TOM SLATER

Deuces were wild in the Week 11 fixtures of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). All four victorious teams scored two goals with three matches being decided by 2-0 scores.

Only Sky Blue’s Tasha Kai’s goal prevented all four games this weekend to be decided by the same score.

When the smoke cleared, Portland maintained a five-point lead over Western New York while Washington held at third place.

Here’s a look at what happened in Week 11:

Seattle Reign 2, Boston Breakers 0: The big news was the return of Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi to Seattle. And the Japanese midfielder made her return memorable with both goals in the shutout victory over Boston.

The win extended Reign FC’s (4-3-4, 16 pts) undefeated streak to five games and was the first win for Seattle since June 12. It also marked the fifth-straight game Seattle outshot their opponent, taking 12 shots (seven on goal) while Boston managed six (three on goal) for the match. Seattle moved into sixth place in the NWSL table, just two points out of a playoff spot.

Naho scored her first goal in the 15th minute. Just outside of the box, Naho slotted in Manon Melis on an overlapping run. Melis was able to control the ball right on the endline and send a cross into the box. After deflecting off a defender, the ball fell right to the feet of Naho, who made no mistake with her finish.

In the 62nd minute, Keelin Winters sent a long ball forward, finding a sprinting Naho behind the Boston defense. Naho controlled the ball and cut inside the penalty box, while Elli Reed made a run to her right that pulled Kallman away from goal and created just enough space for Naho to fire home her second goal of the match and put Reign FC up 2-0.

With the shutout, Seattle has now delivered five consecutive clean sheets, which is a new NWSL record. Reign FC are now just two minutes of shutout soccer away from setting a new NWSL record for most consecutive minutes without conceding a goal.

Western New York 2, Chicago Red Stars 0: A little thunderstorm didn’t prevent the Western New York Flash from taking sole possession of second place with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars at Rhinos Stadium in Rochester.

The win was the Flash’s fifth win over their last six games and broke a tie in the standings with Chicago. Western New York moved to 7-4-0 while Chicago fell to 5-3-3.

The match was delayed an hour due to strong thunderstorms.

Lianne Sanderson and Lynn Williams each scored goals for the winners. For Sanderson, it was her first score since being acquired from Orlando last week. Williams’ tally was her league-leading sixth goal, moving her ahead of teammate Jessica McDonald, who assisted on both goals Friday.

Sanderson opened the scoring in the 38th minute after McDonald headed a ball off the post and it landed at Sanderson’s feet. She made no mistake in slotting home her shot.

Western New York doubled its lead in the second half when McDonald delivered a long serve from the right side and Williams tapped it in for her sixth goal of the year.

Washington Spirit 2, FC Kansas City 0: The Washington Spirit (6-2-2, 20 points) defended its unbeaten streak in a match against FC Kansas City (2-5-4, 10 points) at home with a 2-0 win.

After one full half of shared possession and control over the game, second half substitutions helped lift the Spirit over the defending National Women’s Soccer League champions. A low-driven shot by forward Francisca Ordega in the 79th and a powerful volley by midfielder Tori Huster in the 85th earned the Spirit three points.

“I think there was a good energy. We were a lot more organized and we played well as a group. The second half with the insertion of Franny and Cheyna [Williams] really added some speed and dynamic up front. I think we started moving the ball a little quicker,” said general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra regarding the team’s strong finish.

Ordega scored the go-ahead goal for the Spirit in the 79th minute. Ordega came off the bench early in the second half and immediately showed off her attacking pace. After several close runs, Ordega finally capitalized. Midfielder Joanna Lohman drilled a shot toward goal in the box, but the shot was deflected by FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. The deflection landed right at the feet of Ordega, who was persistent in her forward attack. Ordega’s shot landed in the lower left hand corner past the extended arm of Barnhart.

The Spirit doubled its advantage in the 85th minute bringing the scoreline to 2-0. Midfielder Christine Nairn‘s lofted corner kick fell just a few feet from Lohman who took a shot on goal. Barnhart was not able to get to the shot, but the strike was deflected by the KC defensive line. Midfielder and Spirit veteran Huster advanced on the opportunity and sent a powered volley into the top of the net out of Barnhart’s reach.