NWSL Week 14 Rewind: Playoff picture tightens with Olympic break looming

week 14 rewind

By TOM SLATER

The top of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) stayed the same but there’s a new entry in the playoff race.

With the Washington Spirit losing and Portland idle, those two stayed on top with 26 points. Western New York missed a golden chance to vault both but fell to FC Kansas City and is holding third place.

Chicago’s draw with Houston and Sky Blue’s victory over the Spirit have both tied for the final spot. And Seattle is sneaking back in, only two points behind.

Seattle Reign 5, Orlando Pride 2: The Reign scored a season-high five goals and climbed back in the playoff race with a convincing victory over the Pride.

Four different Seattle players hit the  back of the net with Kim Little scoring her 30th career NWSL goal to open the game. Little is the all-time leading career NWSL goal-scorer. Jess Fishlock, Kendall Fletcher and Manon Melis all scored for the Reign (5-4-5, 20 points). Orlando’s Toni Pressley knocked one on her own net to finish the scoring.

Jasmyne Spencer and Kristen Edmonds scored for Orlando (6-8, 18 points)

“I think that we can be pleased with the result,” said Fishlock. “I think that’s the most important thing for us at this stage, is that we got three points, but what was really good was that we scored a lot of goals, and a lot of different players scored a lot of goals.”

Before the match, Reign FC honored Amy Griffin as a Reign FC Legend for her lifetime of work growing the women’s game in the United States. Griffin is the head coach of the United States deaf women’s national soccer team, who just returned from Italy after winning their second-straight Deaf World Cup.

FC Kansas City 1, Western New York Flash 0: The Flash had a golden opportunity to be in first place alone, but the Blues had other ideas.

Shea Groom scored her sixth goal of the season in the 60th minute for the game’s only score, giving the Flash a rare home loss. Groom, the league’s third leading scorer, took a long pass from Tiffany McCarty and beat former teammate and Western New York goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland and fired a shot to the far post. It was McCarty’s third assist on the year, all on Groom goals.

Western New York (8-5-1, 25 points) had a hug 24-8 shot advantage but couldn’t solve Nicole Barnhart. FC Kansas City is now 4-6-4 for 14 points.

Chicago Red Stars 1, Houston Dash 1: Chicago scored early, dominated for most of the game — but watched Houston tie the match late to give the Dash the draw.

Danielle Colaprico scored in the second minute for the Red Stars. Vanessa DiBernardo served a short corner kick to Colaprico, who beat a play and fired the shot past goalkeeper Bianca Henninger for the early Chicago lead. DiBernardo had three golden chances to increase the lead in the opening half but hit the crossbar on one and was just wide on the other two. In the second half, DiBernardo and Colaprico worked their magic on a short corner with Colaprico releasing DiBernardo with a clever backheel, which also froze the Dash defense.  DiBernardo beat Henninger but Denise O’Sullivan cleared the shot off the line.

The miss came back to haunt Chicago  (6-4-4, 22 points) when Rachel Daly scored in the 82 minute on Houston’s (3-7-2, 11 points)only real offensive surge of the day.

Kealia Ohai drove down the left side toward the endline and sent a centering ball into the penalty area that found the feet of Daly. Facing away from goal, the English forward displayed outstanding skill in turning in tight space and firing a low, right-footed shot inside the near post to earn her side a point.

The tie allowed Chicago to be even with Sky Blue for the fourth playoff spot