NWSL Week 13 Preview: The Seattle-Western New York rematch

nwsl preview week 13

By TOM SLATER

The quartet of Saturday matches in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) are intriguing to say the least.

One is the rematch of the most talked about match in league history. You know, the one that was played on a baseball field in New York.

Others have playoff implications.

Let’s take a look:

Western New York Flash (8-4-0, 24 points) at Seattle Reign (4-4-4): This is the second leg of the home-and-home series that began with the ‘Fiasco at Frontier Field’ last weekend. Everyone knows the story of the way-to-small pitch in Rochester and the social media firestorm that ensued. This weekend’s match should be decided strictly on the field in Seattle.

The biggest intrigue is whether Megan Rapinoe will make an appearance for the Reign. She’s been put on the active roster for the match and it is being billed as a send off match for the American international on the Reign, which also includes Hope Solo. Last week’s match saw Seattle’s league-best shutout streak of 531 minutes end in the high-scoring affair. Abby Erceg scored twice for Western New York — her first NWSL scores. Both came off throw-ins tossed into the box by forward Jessica McDonald.  The NWSL’s leading scorer, Lynn Williams, added the game-winner in the 83rd minute.

Nahomi Kawasumi continued her remarkable return to the NWSL with a goal in the 23rd minute to follow up a two-goal effort in her season debut. Seattle substitute Rumi Utsugi scored a late consolation goal for the Reign in 91st minute to produce the final score.

It was the fourth time this season the Flash scored three or more goals in a game and the first time in 20 matches that Seattle conceded three times in a game.

The victory for Western New York wrapped up a successful seven-game home stand during which the Flash went 6-1-0. The Flash will play six of their final eight matches of the regular season away from home, where they are 2-3 so far.

Washington Spirit (7-2-2, 24 points) at FC Kansas City (3-5-4, 13 points ) FC Kansas City may have stumbled out of the gate this spring but the Blues are currently one of the hottest teams in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

The Blues are currently 3-1-2 over the last six matches and are in the middle of a five-game stretch against teams that are currently in playoff spots. Last weekend, it was the league-leading Portland Thorns. This week, they will host the Washington Spirit Saturday night.

Shea Grooms and Tiffany McCarty led the Blues to a 2-1 win over the Thorns in Portland, snapping the Thorns 12-game unbeaten streak. Grooms had both goals while McCarty assisted on both to lead the FC Kansas City attack.

Nicole Barnhart was strong in goal for the Blues.

The Spirit are the solid third-place team in the NWSL and gave themselves some distance between them and the fourth-place Chicago Red Stars. The Spirit beat the Red Stars, 2-0, with Estafania Banini and forward Francisca Ordega leading the way.

Ordega assisted on Banini’s 20th-minute goal against the Red Stars – giving both players two goals and an assist in the last four games. Forward Katie Stengel added an insurance tally in the second half courtesy of an assist from midfielder Christine Nairn.

Coach Jim Gabarra will be looking for all four players to step up Saturday as the Spirit go in search of their first away win against the Blues.

Washington has never won (0-3-1) in four matches all-time on the road against FCKC.

Chicago Red Stars (5-4-3, 18 points) at Orlando Pride (6-6, 18 points): After last week’s dramatics for Orlando, this match may figure in who has the final playoff spot.

The Pride is coming off the most dramatic victory in NWSL history with a 2-1 win over Boston last Sunday.

The Pride scored once in the 90th minute and again in stoppage time to become the first NWSL team to win after trailing in the 85th minute. That covered 263 league matches.

Kristen Edmonds scored both goals — one on a viscous free kick and the other on a timely chip shot on the final play of the game. Edmonds was injured on the play when she collided with goalkeeper Jami Kranich but she hopes to play Saturday.

The victory gave Orlando 18 points — tying them for an expansion team high with seven matches left in the season. More important, it puts the Pride level with the Red Stars for the fourth playoff spot. Chicago currently holds a tie-breaker with Orlando.

Chicago fell to Washington last week, 2-0. Danielle Colaprico, last year’s NWSL Rookie of the Year, will be the key player for the Red Stars, who will again be without internationals Christen Press, Julie Johnston and Alyssa Naeher. Jennifer Hoy and Sofia Huerta will be counted on for scoring as well.

Orlando will be missing internationals Steph Caitley (Austrailia), Monica, Laura Allaway, Ashyln Harris and Alex Morgan. Edmonds, Fortune and Jasmyne Spencer hold the keys to the Pride’s second straight win.

Portland Thorns FC (7-1-5, 26 points) at Houston Dash (2-7-1, 7 points) :  Two teams at opposite ends of the table face each other. Both lost last week.

The Thorns loss was the first one of the season and it snapped its club-best 12-game unbeaten streak, second longest in NWSL history.

Houston continued its scoring woes with its sixth-straight 1-0 loss — doubling the previous lead record. On the good news side, the Dash don’t give up a lot of goals.

The Thorns have not looked the same without its international players and have not done so well against the teams at the lower end of the table. But they still have dangerous players in Nadia Nadim, Hayley Raso and Dagny  Brynjarsdottir.

Houston can count on English international Rachel Daly, Melissa Henderson and Kealia Ohai all are scoring threats while Amber Brooks holds down the midfield.