Full slate of games on tap this weekend as all teams are back in action this weekend in week three of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The schedule kicks off with two games on Friday night.
Friday, April 29
Western New York Flash vs. Washington Spirit
Previously, on NWSL Week 2 The Flash lost to the Red Stars, 0-1. The Spirit defeated Sky Blue, 2-1, and moved to the top of the table.
Who and Watch to Watch Creating chances hasn’t been a problem so far for the Spirit. Even crosses are ending up as goals.* The Spirit’s front three have looked extremely dangerous, and Steph Labbé has been solid in net.
As for the Flash, scoring goals from the run of play has been a struggle so far, with their only goal coming from a penalty kick. — Rachael
While the Spirit’s front line is strong, Katie Stengel struggled last week against Sky Blue and has yet to establish chemistry with the rest of the attacking corps. The Spirit will need her to get it in gear because they’ll need to put goals in the back of the net if they want to stay at the top of the table. The back line, however, has been solid, and head coach Jim Gabarra has two excellent options at left back in Caprice Dydasco and Alyssa Kleiner, both of whom have shown very will in their time on the field.
Western New York will be without Jaelene Hinkle so will need to contain the Spirit’s right side, not an easy task that can feature Crystal Dunn with Ali Krieger flying up and down the side. The Flash have speed at every position but are a young squad, and at times it shows with the team’s strong starts that fade. Sam Mewis will be up against a steady Spirit midfield but will need help. Lynn Williams can definitely cause problems for Washington’s back line with her speed. — Brandi
Western New York defender Jaelene Hinkle has a fractured left toe, and forward Jess McDonald is ailing with a right knee impingement. Washington is at full strength.
Houston Dash vs. Sky Blue FC
Previously, on NWSL Week 2 Houston came back down to earth after a 1-3 loss to Orlando. It was doubly bad for the Dash as Carli Lloyd sprained the MCL in her right knee and will be out for three to six weeks.
Sky Blue lost to the Spirit, 1-2, but Raquel Rodriguez is settling in and showed the flashes we’re expecting her to bring to NWSL.
Who and Watch to Watch The Dash had a slightly disappointing performance after their excellent season opener, and will be looking to recover this week. They face a Sky Blue squad that will feel hard done by their result against Washington — they probably deserved a point.
Lloyd is still out for the Dash, so Ohai will likely retake her starting spot along the front line. Denise O’Sullivan has arrived for the Dash and the could make her NWSL debut. — Rachael
Houston got going late in the game against Orlando but showed resilience. The loss of Carli Lloyd for up to six weeks can’t be overlooked but the Dash showed in week one that other players are capable of stepping up, most notably rookies Rachel Daly and Janine Beckie. Kealia Ohai will most likely return to the starting lineup hungry and has the opportunity to prove she belongs there by making life difficult for Sky Blue’s rookie keeper.
Sky Blue’s midfield. That’s what you need to know. The duo of Rodriguez and Sarah Killion is young and still needs to time to figure out their partnership but when they do, they’ll be a headache-inducing tandem for any defense in the league. Killion didn’t have the game she did against Seattle but Rodriguez made up for it and was instrumental throughout the game. — Brandi
For Houston, Carli Lloyd is out with a sprained right knee, as is Melissa Henderson. Sky Blue is still without CoCo Goodson due to a left hamstring strain, and Sam Kerr, who is recovering from surgery on her left foot.
Sunday, May 1
Boston Breakers vs. Portland Thorns FC
Previously, on NWSL Week 2 Boston fell to the Reign, 0-3, in its home opener. Portland drew, 1-1, with Kansas City.
Who and Watch to Watch The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Boston, as the Breakers play yet another strong team this weekend. The Breakers have allowed a goal in the first 10 minutes of both of their games this season, so how long an already overworked defense can hold on against Portland is the big question.
As for the Thorns, they’ve be motoring along somewhat quietly, although they probably should have picked up three points in Kansas City. — Rachael
It’s easy to pick on Boston so I won’t. The side has shown improvement and was better in the second half of last week’s loss to the Reign. It won’t be easy for a slow defense against a Thorns’ side that has a ridiculously in-form Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan coming at them, but if the Breakers can get on the board for the first time this season, the shot of confidence it brings could be something to build on heading into next week.
For Portland, it’s Heath. She’s been on a tear of late at both the club and country levels. Not much else to say.
Injury Report Sinead Farrelly is on the disabled list for the Breakers. Kendall Johnson (not medically cleared), Christine Sinclair (left Achilles), and Kat Williamson (right meniscus) are all out for the Thorns.
Chicago Red Stars vs. Orlando Pride
Previously, on NWSL Week 2 Chicago picked up a 1-0 win its home opener against Western New York. Orlando won 3-1 over Houston in front of a record crowd.
Who and Watch to Watch The team with the least energy against the team that, in my opinion, has the most energy heading into this week. Orlando is coming off a huge win at home, and it will be interesting to see how, and if, they can follow it up with another great performance.
As for Chicago, will they show up? Sure, the Red Stars grabbed three points last week, but in brutal honesty, didn’t look impressive doing so. — Rachael
Chicago has been… disappointing? Not sure that’s the word here but a lot was expected from the Red Stars out of the gate and their play has been lacking. The Chicago side did play better after an opening loss is week one but still hasn’t shown the flashes of offensive power we saw last season. However, when Christen Press is on the field, you can’t count out the Red Stars.
For Orlando, it’s defense. Steph Catley and Laura Alleway have been terrific for the Pride on both sides of the ball. And it will be up to them to try and contain and frustrate Press and Chicago’s midfield. Offensively, Alex Morgan needs to see more of the ball for the Pride.
Injury Report Cara Walls is out for the Red Stars due to right ankle sprain. Toni Pressley is out for the Pride with an adductor strain.
Seattle Reign FC vs. FC Kansas City
Previously, on NWSL Week 2 Seattle defeated Boston, 3-0, but lost Jess Fishlock, who went down with a fractured tibia. Kansas City drew 1-1 with Portland
Who and Watch to Watch Well, the storyline is obvious here. Championship rematch. With the recent news of Jess Fishlock’s injury, this game could be a big chance for FC Kansas City to take an important three points.
That being said, FC Kansas City will be without Shea Groom so who can step into her forward role and establish chemistry will be key. — Rachael
How will the Reign handle life without Fishlock is the question. Especially this week in a rematch of last season’s final that will feature a midfield test for both sides. Even with Fishlock, breaking down Kansas City’s midfield with Jen Buczkowski and Desiree Scott is a tall order, but the Blues are still finding their footing and making adjustments to cope with the loss of Lauren Holiday. Shea Groom is also out after her red card in last week’s match.
In any event, it’s still early in the season, and both clubs have yet to find a rhythm so this one might be choppy, both in play and attitude. — Brandi
Injury Report Megan Rapinoe is out (ACL) and Jessica Fishlock is out with a fractured tibia for the Reign. Tiff McCarty is out for Kansas City with a right hamstring strain.