Sky Blue’s Kerr on Cusp of a Record

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sky blue logoThere will be no National Women’s Soccer League playoff berths on the line when North Carolina visits Sky Blue at Yurcak Field on Sunday evening, but there will be plenty of story lines.

The most notable will be Sky Blue striker Sam Kerr’s assault on the NWSL single-season goal-scoring record. Kerr has been stuck on 16 the last two games and remains tied with the former Seattle Reign forward Kim Little.

Sunday’s match with North Carolina will be the last time in 2017 New Jersey fans will have an opportunity to see in person one of the world’s top female players — at least that’s the conventional wisdom.

It is obvious, however, that some disagree. Kerr was in the news on Friday without being on the field. Despite having a tremendous year for both club and country, the Australian international didn’t make the final three cut for FIFA’s Women’s Player of the Year. Carli Lloyd (United States), Denya Castellanos (Venezuela) and Lieke Martens (the Netherlands) were named as the three finalists. None have the body of work that compares to Kerr, and Lloyd has been injured for most of the summer.

With the announcement coming days after two impressive Australian victories over Brazil — with Kerr scoring three goals in the two games — social media immediately lit up.

On Sunday, Kerr will face a formidable Courage defense. Goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, and defenders Abby Dahlkemper, Taylor Smith, Jaelene Hinkle and Abby Erceg have formed one of the stingiest defenses in the NWSL. Together they’ve produced an 0.86 goals-against average, tied with Portland for best in the league.

And while the Courage have already clinched home field advantage in the postseason, they do have something to play for. First-place North Carolina (16-5-0, 45 points) can clinch the NWSL Shield with a win. The Courage holds a two-point lead over Portland with a game in hand. A Thorns loss and a Courage victory would clinch it.

Kerr is not the only one looking to set a record. North Carolina has 11 shutouts this season, which matches the single-season record set by FC Kansas City in 2013. In addition, another victory would tie the single season win record at 17, set by Seattle in 2014.

Sky Blue (9-11-2, 29) is looking to compete a highly successful home season. A win would give them seven wins at Yurcak against four losses and a tie.