Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
Another week in the National Women’s Soccer League? Another week to talk about how good Seattle Reign are playing.
But the third week of the NWSL brought another league power to the forefront — Portland Thorns FC won a hard battle against FC Kansas City and showed they can close out games.
Meanwhile, the Washington Spirit dealt with the NWSL scheduling demons relatively well and the Western New York Flash managed to come away from a bye week looking worse off.
Here are the SBI NWSL Power Rankings this week:
SBI NWSL Power Rankings (Week 3)
1. (Last week- 1) SEATTLE REIGN FC (3-0-0)
OUTLOOK- Three weeks, three games, three wins — three big wins. Seattle Reign FC are looking like an early title contender and the only question now is if there is any team in the NWSL that can beat the Reign, who is it? It looks like other teams will be chasing the Reign for a while, but we can’t forget that Sky Blue’s early winning streak came to a screeching halt by the end of last season. But for now, Reign look to be sitting comfortably at the top of the table and the top of the power rankings.
2. (Last week- 2) WASHINGTON SPIRIT (2-2-0)
OUTLOOK- The Washington Spirit have been uneven results-wise, but they seem to be holding their own quite well. With no help from a packed travel schedule, the Spirit lost to a well-rested first-place Seattle, which can’t be held against them too much, especially as they robbed Hope Solo of a clean sheet. They then headed to Chicago for their third game in eight days and pulled out a win. It’s hard to be down on a team that has been playing like the Spirit have.
3. (Last week- 4) HOUSTON DASH (1-2-0)
OUTLOOK- The Houston Dash lost this week — true. But it’s hard to fault them for losing to a team like Seattle Reign, that is so clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the NWSL rosters. It should concern the Dash a bit that they couldn’t manage at least one goal on Hope Solo, but Randy Waldrum has done a good job of building solid team chemistry in a new expansion franchise. This group plays well together and if they can get their finishing figured out, they will continue to be a strong team.
4. (Last week- 6) PORTLAND THORNS FC (2-0-1)
OUTLOOK- Their effort against a struggling FC Kansas City this week wasn’t a complete performance as they seemed to struggle at times to connect through the midfield and build an attack. But when it came down to it, they showed enough glimpses of what the club is capable of for a big 3-1 win at home. Better yet, they proved they won’t only have to rely on Allie Long to score all their goals, with Jessica McDonald becoming the surprise hero of the match. If more players in Portland’s talented roster can step up, they will surely compete for the title again.
5. (Last week- 4) CHICAGO RED STARS (1-1-0)
OUTLOOK- The middle of the pack is where Chicago belongs right now, as they can go either way. They’ve played two games and each time, it’s looked like a different team on the field. They can’t just hold on for Christen Press to show up after the UEFA Champion’s League season ends. They need to figure out who their consistent scoring threat will be, or they will fall back to where the spent most of last season.
6. (Last week- 5) WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH (1-1-0)
OUTLOOK- Western New York had a bye week, but move down the rankings for two reasons. First, Portland earned a bump up the list because of their performance this week. But second, Carli Lloyd was suspended for two games, the league announced Tuesday, for “use of excessive force” against Chicago midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo in the Flash’s loss there. Whether Abby Wambach returns from her eye injury or not, losing Lloyd is going to be a massive blow to the Flash offense.
7. (Last week- 8) FC KANSAS CITY (0-2-1)
OUTLOOK- FC Kansas City put up quite a fight against the Portland Thorns and outplayed them for stretches with one-touch passes and a calm, organized attack. But of course — as has been the case for them continually this season — in the waning minutes of the match, they lost control and gave up not only goals, but any chance of a comeback. So far, it’s looking like their 2013 problem of not being able to finish out games has not been resolved.
8. (Last week- 9) BOSTON BREAKERS (1-2-0)
OUTLOOK- Boston continues to look like a team that is in for a tough season with a defense that has conceded eight goals in just three games. But credit where it’s due — they pushed hard and a breakout performance from Lianne Sanderson carried them to their first win of the season. Sanderson, who was voted Player of the Week for her performance, will need to pull off similar heroics if Boston can’t stop letting their opponents score so much.
9. (Last week- 7) SKY BLUE FC (0-1-2)
OUTLOOK- Sky Blue put an end to a streak of ties — but it was with a loss to a Boston Breakers team that went into their matchup in last place. Sky Blue is struggling on both sides of the ball and their offseason shuffling (or lack thereof) is beginning to look like a mistake with the benefit of hindsight. For a team that probably peaked too soon in 2013, Sky Blue better hope they are just saving their best for a late-season surge.
What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Is there a team that should be higher? Would you rank a team lower?
Share your thoughts below.