By SARAH HALLETT
Last week saw the Seattle Reign FC suffer their first loss all season at the hands of the Chicago Red Stars. One week later, the Reign have the chance to avenge the loss with a rematch on Sunday night.
A full slate of games are on the schedule this weekend, including the first nationally televised game of the season on Sunday night. ESPN2 will feature the Boston Breakers at the Portland Thorns FC at 5 p.m. ET. There is not a better venue in women’s soccer than Providence Park, as the Thorns FC regularly draw a rowdy atmosphere of more than 10,000 fans per game.
On Friday night, the Western New York Flash will face a determined FC Kansas City team looking to rebound after an embarrassing loss in Portland last weekend. The pressure will be on the Flash, as the team is still without veteran forward Abby Wambach and currently sits in sixth place.
The Washington Spirit will face Sky Blue FC on Sunday night after being held to a 1-1 draw against the Houston Dash on Thursday. The midweek result was just enough to keep the Spirit in third place over the Portland Thorns FC, but the team will be looking for the full three points against Sky Blue if they want to keep pace in the playoff hunt.
Here is a closer look at this week’s National Women’s Soccer league fixtures:
FC KANSAS CITY at WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH (Friday at 7 p.m. ET – watch live)
FC Kansas City traveled to Portland last Sunday night looking for their eighth win in a row. Instead they suffered their worst loss of the season thanks to a 7-1 drubbing by the Portland Thorns FC. The second ranked team has a strong grip on a playoff spot, but will be looking to erase the memories of that defeat. The Blues should also have midfielder Lauren Holiday back in the lineup, after she missed Sunday’s game due to food poisoning.
The Flash however suffered another huge injury loss this past week when news came out that goalkeeper Lydia Williams will miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL to her left knee. The injury occurred last weekend against the Washington Spirit. This is the second goalie on the Flash roster this year to go down with an ACL tear after Adrianna Franch injured her right knee during the preseason. Kelsey Wys will handle the net for the remainder of the year for the Flash.
BOSTON BREAKERS at PORTLAND THORNS FC (Sunday at 5 p.m. ET – live on ESPN2)
The Portland Thorns FC put together their biggest win of the year last Sunday night against one of the best teams in the league. They followed that up on Thursday against the Chicago Red Stars with a 1-1 draw, keeping the reigning champions in fourth place going into the weekend and very much in the thick of the playoff race.
The Boston Breakers on the other hand continue to have a rock solid hold on last place in the standings and are still searching for their fourth win of the season. However, one of their three wins did come against the Thorns FC at the end of May. Boston’s best player this year has been goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and she will do her part to keep the Breakers in the game. It should prove to be a good test for Portland – a team loaded with talent but that has also struggled with consistency throughout the season.
WASHINGTON SPIRIT at SKY BLUE FC (Sunday at 6 p.m. ET – watch live)
Sky Blue FC returns after a couple weeks off and while not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs quite yet, it is hard to imagine this team finding a role in the postseason. The team has lacked a true striker and their offensive numbers have suffered this season due to their lack of talent on the front line.
The Washington Spirit need to pick up some easy points against Sky Blue FC as they head into a rough stretch of games in the upcoming weeks. The Spirit are wrapping up a three game road trip, which has proven to be fairly successful as the team has picked up four points so far. A win on Sunday night should give them the confidence they need as they face top teams in the next few weeks.
CHICAGO RED STARS at SEATTLE REIGN FC (Sunday at 7 p.m. ET – watch live)
This may be the game to watch this week as the Seattle Reign FC will be looking to avenge their 1-0 loss last Sunday against the Chicago Red Stars. This time however they will have home field advantage and the beauty of a full week’s rest.
The Red Stars are coming off a 1-1 draw against the Portland Thorns FC on Thursday night, but are starting to peak at the right time with the playoffs only a month away. However, if they can beat the Reign FC two weeks in a row, they might be able to ride that momentum all the way into August.