NWSL Rewind Week 19: Seattle still alive with win over Washington

nwsl rewind week 19

by TOM SLATER

The Seattle Reign proved it has more than a pulse left.

With it playoff backs against the wall, the Reign blanked the Washington Spirit, 2-0, in week 19 of National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action.J

The victory put the Reign two points behind the Western New York Flash for the fourth and final playoff spot. The Reign play at Houston on Sept. 25 and the Flash play at Boston. A win by Seattle and a loss by Western New York would give the Reign the fourth playoff spot.

Seattle opened the scoring in the 28th minute. Jess Fishlock sent a long ball down the line to Megan Rapinoe, who received the pass in stride before sending a left-footed cross into the box. Beverly Yanez slid to meet the ball at the back post to give Reign FC a 1-0 lead.

“I thought it was a great build up from the team overall, and then Pinoe hit a ridiculous ball across the box,” said Yanez. “As I started the run, I kind of picked my head up and saw that I could get there first to the back of the net and to the far post. So I raised my hand, put it down, then I saw her make eye contact, so I knew right then and there to get to the back post as quickly as you can because the ball is going to come across.”

Seattle doubled its lead in the 78th minute. Lauren Barnes took a short corner kick, passing the ball off to Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi. Naho then whipped a cross into the box, that fell to the feet of Keelin Winters. The captain put the ball in the back of the net to double Reign FC’s lead.

“Obviously I want to score in every game, but with my position I don’t get very many scoring opportunities,” said Winters, who is retiring after this season. “For [a goal] to come in my last game at Memorial Stadium, means the world to me. More importantly it keeps our playoff hopes alive, so for me that’s the biggest takeaway coming from this game.”

In other matches:

Portland Thorns FC 3, Western New York Flash 2: The Thorns clinched a home playoff game by scoring three goals and then holding off the Flash over the final 15 minutes.

Thorns FC (11-3-5, 38pts) finished their 2016 home schedule with a record of 8-1-1 at Providence Park as they played in front of their third sellout crowd in team history. In 10 home matches this season, Portland set a new NWSL record for total (169,449) and average (16,945) attendance in the team’s fourth season.

Nadia Nadim began the scoring on a well-placed penalty kick in the 27th minute. Lindsey Horan sent a smart ball over the top to Nadim who was fouled. The penalty was her 9th goal of the season.

Ten minutes later, Nadim sent in a serve that banged off a defender to Canadian international Christine Sinclair. Sinclair left-footed it off the post and in the net. With her goal, Sinclair has now recorded a point in seven-consecutive games dating back to 2-0 win against Chicago on June 22, extending her team record. Just before halftime

Second-half substitute Dagny Brynjarsdottir upped Portland’s lead to 3-0, with what would be the game-winning goal in the 69th minute. After midfielder Tobin Heath played the Iceland international through on goal, her right-footed strike from inside the penalty area beat an onrushing Aubrey D’Angelo and found its way into the back of the net. The assist was Heath’s ninth of the year, which ranks first in the NWSL.

Down 3-0, Western New York (8-6-5, 29pts) threatened late in the match after forward Jess McDonald headed in defender Liz Eddy’s cross in the 77th minute to cut the lead to two. Three minutes later, McDonald found forward Lynn Williams, whose shot beat goalkeeper Michelle Betosin the 80th minute to set up a wild finish. In stoppage-time, a long-range shot from Williams forced Betos into an acrobatic tip save over her left post to preserve the win.

Chicago Red Stars 0, FC Kansas City 0; Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was the star of the day, making several acrobatic saves to help her squad punch their playoff ticket with a scoreless road draw against reigning champions FC Kansas Cit.

Having entered the match without center back Samantha Johnson, the Red Stars saw left back Arin Gilliland and forward Stephanie McCaffrey limp off the field within the opening 25 minutes and nonetheless managed to turn in a disciplined defensive display en route to a well-earned point.

The visitors had Naeher to thank for preventing an early opposition lead. In the eighth minute of play, FCKC’s Caroline Castor whipped in a cross from the left that was nodded down by Shea Groom, followed by a Brittany Taylor volley from the doorstep that seemed destined for the inside of the left upright if not for a spectacular diving parry by Naeher.

Houston Dash 4, Boston Breakers 1: The Dash broke out in a scoring spree while matching a club record for most wins in a season with a victory over the Breakers.

Carli Lloyd scored two goals while Kealia Ohlai added her league-leading 10th tally. Janine Beckie also scored for Houston.

With the victory, the Dash matched the club record for most wins in a season (six) and most wins at home (four) in a season.

Boston prevented the clean sheet in the 76th minute as second half substitute striker Elise Krieghoff scored her first goal of the season.

The first goal of the game came in the 26th minute as Lloyd found Beckie making a run into the box. The Canadian forward dribbled to the six-yard box and her shot beat Breakers goalkeeper  Jami Kranich at the far post.

Ohai scored her league-leading 10th goal of the season in the 35th minute as she finished a cross from Beckie at the near post. Lloyd found Beckie outside the box and her run created space for the team captain to finish unmarked inside the six-yard box.

With one game remaining in the season, Ohai is tied for the lead on goals scored. Ohai has scored all 10 goals in her last nine games to vault to the head of the NWSL Golden Boot race.

With the league going black for a FIFA break, the regular season will conclude on Sunday, Sept. 25.