NWSL Week 19- Recap and Goals of the Week
NWSL Week 19- Recap and Goals of the Week avatar

With the playoffs just a few weeks away, four games were played over the course of the weekend following Boston’s 5-2 defeat at the hands of Portland on Wednesday night.

There were some upsets and some lopsided wins and, amazingly, every team is still in contention to advance to the playoffs, which will begin September 13th.

Sky Blue Earn Three Points In Houston

In a must-win match for both teams, Sky Blue came out on top 2-0 winners against Houston Dash behind goals from Nadia Nadim and Samantha Kerr.

It was end-to-end stuff in the opening stages, with Brittany Cameron making a fantastic save to keep Melissa Henderson’s stinging volley from giving Houston the lead.

Nadia Nadim scored (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Nadia Nadim scored from a diving header. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

The save proved vital as Sky Blue took the lead in the 38th minute from a diving header from Nadia Nadim.

After Kelley O’Hara whiffed a cross, the ball found Cami Levin on the back post. The defender crossed the ball to the top of the six-yard box, where Nadim threw herself at the ball to put Sky Blue ahead.

Houston, knowing a loss would take them out of the 4th and final playoff spot, pressed for an equalizer for the next half-hour in search of an equalizer.

Jessica McDonald, whose seven goals lead the team, hit the crossbar with a looping header and Carli Lloyd had her free kick kept out of the net by a great diving save from Cameron.

Kerr scored the all-important second goal for the visitors in the 72nd minute to put them on course for their first road win since the season-opening win in Kansas City.

Cameron hoofed the ball forward to Kerr, who took a great touch to race towards goal. She took a shot once she entered the area that was blocked by Ella Masar, but she rifled home the rebound for the insurance goal.

Despite the two-goal advantage, Houston came close to cutting the lead in half in stoppage time, but Cameron came up big once again, this time racing off her line to prevent Carli Lloyd from scoring.

The win keeps Sky Blue in eighth place but closes the gap between them and a playoff spot.

Houston, who needed to win to keep the race for fourth place in their hands, fell to sixth place and face the top two teams three times in their remaining four games.

Boston Halt Nine-Match Winless Skid Versus Washington

The Boston Breakers defeated the Spirit 2-1 in front of 4,137 joyous home fans to remain in the playoff race.

Boston scored both of their goals in the opening twenty minutes to set them on course for the first win since May 30th’s 1-0 win Kansas City.

Julie King was on target for Boston. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Julie King was on target for Boston. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

The first came in the 12th minute from Julie King, who rose highest to head Kristie Mewis’ cross home, with Kelsey Wys inches away from making the save.

Their lead was doubled six minutes later through Kyah Simon on a great counter-attacking goal. Simon raced out of the defensive half and played a ball out to Stephanie McCaffrey on the right wing. McCaffrey played a ball into the middle that Wys came out to claim, but the goalkeeper failed to claim and the ball bounced to Simon who tapped the ball into the empty net.

The game’s next chance didn’t come until the second half, but as much as Alyssa Naeher tried, she couldn’t keep the Spirit from pegging a goal back.

Crystal Dunn raced towards goal from the right, but Naeher dove at her feet to stop the chance. The Boston goalkeeper blocked Dunn’s second chance but Diana Matheson hit the ball towards goal and a goalmouth scramble ensued. Matheson’s effort was cleared off the line to Victoria Huster. The defender took the shot that was somehow kept out by Naeher, but the ball hit the post and Matheson was on hand to tap it over the line.

Dunn had a great opportunity to equalize ten minutes later, but her shot fro six yards out was straight to Naeher, who made the save.

Chances were few and far between and Boston held on the three points, which keeps them in contention for the playoffs. They remain at the foot of the table on 15 points, seven behind Kansas City in 4th place.

Washington remain in 3rd place on 24 points but have a tough remaining schedule, playing all the teams in the top half.

Flash Routed In Kansas City

Kansas City ran out 4-0 winners in front a sold-out crowd to leapfrog Houston into the last playoff spot.

The first half was a close contest, with Amy Rodriguez having her effort saved by Chantel Jones and Western New York hitting the crossbar from a scramble inside the six-yard box.

FC Kansas City scored their only goal of the half in the 38th minute after a great run and finish from Leigh Ann Robinson. The defender ventured forward and received a ball from Mandy Laddish on the right wing and cut in towards goal and slotted a finish at the near post past Jones.

Averbuch scored a blinder for (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

Averbuch scored a blinder for Kansas. (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

Kansas City scored three goals in the second half to separate themselves from Western New York, the first coming in the 69th minute from Yael Averbuch. Kansas City earned a free kick outside the area and Averbuch curled the ball into the top right corner gloriously to double their lead.

Heather O’Reilly and Amy Rodriguez combined to score Kansas City’s third goal in the 84th minute. The latter played a through ball to the midfielder, who raced on goal and finished past Jones. The goalkeeper had more than enough time to come off her line and pick up A-Rod’s pass, but she opted to stay on her line and paid the price.

It was 4-0 three minutes later after Jennifer Buczkowski slid in at the far post to finish off Frances Silva’s cross.

The loss is a setback in Western New York’s playoff push, as it keeps them four points adrift in 7th place, while Kansas City now occupy that coveted 4th spot in the standings, tied with Portland on 22 points, who they play at home Wednesday night.

Portland Come From Behind To Defeat Chicago

The Portland Thorns defeated the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 behind a brace from Allie Long in front of 15,858 fans Sunday night.

After defeating Boston earlier in the week, Portland found themselves behind in the 29th minute after Alyssa Mautz’s cross looped over Michelle Betos into the far post.

Christen Press came close to extending the lead for the visitors as she lofted a bouncing ball over Betos, but it didn’t have enough power to reach the goal and was easily cleared away by a retreating defender.

Press was again at the heart of the action in the 36th minute, racing onto a ball over the top from Lori Chalupny and took a fantastic shot across goal, but the ball went off of the far post with Betos well beaten.

Allie Long scored a brace for Portland. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Allie Long scored a brace for Portland. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Instead it was Portland who score the next goal, Allie Long tapping in just one minute later to level the scoreline.

Tobin Heath’s footwork opened up space to play in a cross that was blocked by a defender, but Abby Erceg and Karina LeBlanc collided trying to boot it down field and Long tapped the ball into the empty net.

Allie Long grabbed her second goal of the night in spectacular fashion to put Portland ahead with 20 minutes remaining.

Sinead Farrelly was coming under pressure on the edge of the box and squared the ball to Long. After realizing no one was going to close her down, she hit a beautiful shot with her right foot into the side netting, giving LeBlanc no chance.

Chicago had some great chances to level the score but Betos came up big in goal to deny them.

Jen Hoy had a shot from the top of the box pushed away by Betos. The rebound was bouncing towards Julie Johnston, but Betos snatched the ball away to prevent a follow-up chance.

Her biggest save came in the second minute of stoppage time, palming a fierce angled shot from Press over the bar to keep Portland ahead.

The whistle blew shortly after and Portland got three points to keep them tied with Kansas City, who they can leapfrog with a win on Wednesday night.

Chicago remains in second place despite a valiant effort in Portland, but with five points separating them from 4th, they have little worries regarding missing the playoffs.

Team

Games Played

Wins

Losses

Draws

GD

Points

Seattle

15

9

3

3

13

30

Chicago

15

7

2

6

8

27

Washington

15

7

5

3

3

24

Kansas City

16

6

6

4

5

22

Portland

16

6

6

4

3

22

Houston

16

5

6

5

-2

20

Western New York

16

5

8

3

-9

18

Sky Blue

16

4

7

5

-6

17

Boston

17

4

10

3

-15

15

 

Goals of the Week: Week 19

Every week, GotSoccer will give you the top three goals of the week. We will factor in skill, difficulty, and importance to determine the top three finishes of the week.

#3: Allie Long (Portland Thorns) vs. Chicago Red Stars 8/9/2015

Heading into the last 20 minutes vs. the second best team in the league and you need three points to keep your playoff hopes. Those were the circumstances when Long received the ball on the edge of the area and she made no mistake, hitting a daisy cutter into the side netting to defeat Chicago.

#2: McCall Zerboni (Portland Thorns) vs. Boston Breakers 8/5/2015

In Portland’s first game this week, they demolished Boston 5-2. The first of Zerboni’s two goals that game was fantastic, settling a great pass from Long and finishing past Alyssa Naeher to put the Thorns ahead early in the second half. While Long showed great vision to find Zerboni’s run, the delicate touch from Zerboni to set up her shot was top class.

#1: Yael Averbuch (FC Kansas City) vs. Western New York Flash 8/8/2015

Free kicks don’t get much better than this. Averbuch stood over the ball from almost 30 yards out and curled a perfectly placed free kick into the top corner to double K.C.’s advantage.

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