NWSL Week 21- Recap and Goals of the Week
NWSL Week 21- Recap and Goals of the Week avatar

Three out of the four playoff spots are locked up following another exciting weekend of NWSL action.

Three shutout victories and a goalless draw across the four games also meant that three more teams joined the Boston Breakers as teams eliminated from contention.

Seattle Eliminate Houston With Lopsided Win

Seattle stretched their lead at the top of the table to seven points with a 3-0 victory on the road over the Houston Dash.

Kim Little scored all three goals in the victory, which means that Houston are eliminated from playoff contention.

Despite scoring 16 goals in a MVP season last year, this was Little’s first hat-trick in the NWSL.

Little scored her first NWSL hat trick. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Little scored a hat trick to lead her team to a convincing victory. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

After exchanging multiple chances early on in the game, Little found the net in the 42nd minute for her first goal.

Seattle defender Lauren Barnes played a long ball over the top of the Houston backline and Little sprinted past Ellie Brush and finished emphatically past Erin McLeod.

The game’s next chance came in the 67th minute through Seattle’s Jessica Fishlock. The midfielder managed to get a head on Megan Rapinoe’s free kick on the left wing, but McLeod did well to palm the chance wide of the post.

But the Reign got the insurance goal their play deserved seven minutes later when Little gathered a pass from Rapinoe, dribbled towards goal and unleashed a bouncing shot across goal past McLeod.

The Scottish international saved her best goal for last as she clinched her hat-trick in the final minute of the game. Little received the ball on the corner of the box and turned towards goal. She cut past Toni Pressley, stutter-stepped past Meghan Klingenberg and Allyscha Chapman, before evading Pressley again and clipping the ball over McLeod.

At the beginning of the month, Houston occupied the coveted 4th spot in the standings, but four losses in the month of August has left the Dash eight points adrift of a playoff spot with two games remaining.

Seattle only need two more points to clinch their second-straight Supporter’s Shield after all but guaranteeing home-field advantage for their semifinal.

Sky Blue Narrow Win Over Thorns

In a match that Portland needed to win to keep a realistic chance of making the playoffs, they fell 1-0 on the road to Sky Blue FC in front of a sellout crowd.

Sky Blue, who have only lost in one of their last seven games, were eliminated despite the win since Kansas City got three points in their match Saturday night.

Nadia Nadim once again led her team to a 1-0 victory. (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

Nadia Nadim once again led her team to a 1-0 victory. (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

After dominating the opening quarter of an hour, Nadia Nadim finally gave Sky Blue a deserved lead in the 19th minute after some lackadaisical defending from Alyssa Kleiner.

Samantha Kerr played in a low cross to the back post from the left wing that found Kleiner. But rather than clearing, Kelley O’Hara stepped in front of her and played the ball back across goal to Nadia Nadim, who tapped it in the back of the net.

Kerr spurned a golden chance just a few minutes later when she found herself beyond the defensive line. The Australian international cut inside towards goal but hesitated on getting a shot off, which allowed defenders to get back and snuff out the chance.

The next quality chance fell to Christine Sinclair in the 67th minute. The Canadian international broke through on goal, leaving two defenders in her wake but after her initial shot was well saved by Brittany Cameron in goal, she had a follow-up chance that Cameron got a slight touch on to put it off the crossbar.

For all of Cameron’s heroics, she was a bit reckless to give away a penalty kick in the 87th minute when she brought down Sinclair on the edge of the area. Her angry protests to the referee only got her a yellow card.

With Sinclair off injured, Alex Morgan stepped up to take the penalty kick, but Cameron redeemed herself with a great double save to preserve Sky Blue’s lead. She made a good save to her right to save Morgan’s effort, but the rebound went straight back to Morgan. The American international put it back on goal, but Cameron went back her left to make a great save.

With the loss, Portland sit six points behind Washington in 4th place. While not eliminated, Portland will need to win both of their remaining games (vs. Washington and Western New York) and hope Washington lose their other two games (vs. Kansas City and Seattle), all while making up a goal difference gap of five.

Kansas City Clinch Playoffs With Win Over Boston

With the Boston Breakers already eliminated, FC Kansas City won 3-0 in front of 2,321 fans to clinch a playoff spot for the third year in a row.

Coming into the game, Amy Rodriguez only had two goals across eight NWSL games, but she doubled her total after scoring a brace and notching an assist on the third goal in a dominant performance by the hosts.

Her first goal came in the 29th minute after finishing well from a lay-off from Leigh-Ann Robinson. Her powerful finish from 12 yards left Alyssa Naeher with no chance.

Despite numerous chances to extend their lead prior to the break, Kansas City couldn’t find a way past Naeher in goal. A-Rod had a great chance to double their lead, but after rounding Naeher on a breakaway, her shot was well saved by Julie King, who retreated back to the goal line.

Kansas City finally made their domination count in the 50th minute as a neat passing move found Lauren Holiday through on goal. The American international slotted past the onrushing goalkeeper to double the lead and just two minutes later, the lead was extended further.

Amy Rodriguez ghosted behind defenders as Holiday dribbled around on the edge of the box. As soon as Holiday found a passing lane, she put Rodriguez through. While the defenders appealed for an offside flag, A-Rod fired the ball beyond Naeher to make it 3-0.

The hosts had plenty of chances through Frances Silva and Rodriguez to extend their lead even further, but it was all she wrote. The loss doesn’t affect the Breakers playoff implications as they were already eliminated following last week’s results. Kansas City will need to overtake Chicago and hold off Washington if they hope to host their semifinal in mid-September.

Chicago Headed To Playoffs Despite Draw With Flash

The Chicago Red Stars and Western New York Flash battled to a 0-0 draw Sunday afternoon in a game that eliminated Flash from playoff contention, while Chicago moved up to 2nd place with the draw.

There were a number of chances for both teams throughout the game, especially early on. Jamia Fields failed to make clean contact when she was free in the middle of the box, while Julie Johnston came inches away from heading Chicago ahead at the other end.

Michelle Dalton only had one save to make in the game for Chicago, but it was a great one as she tipped Jamia Fields’ angled shot over the bar.

Christen Press could not find the back of the net.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Christen Press could not find the back of the net.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Christen Press had a great effort from distance saved by Chantel Jones. Jones made another great save from Sofia Huerta. Huerta, who had another one-on-one chance saved earlier in the game, was in miles of space as she beat the offside trap, but Jones leapt to her left to deny the forward.

There were no shots on goal in the second half, but plenty of close calls for Chicago. It seemed that every Red Star corner led to a chance, but Julie Johnston and Abby Erceg could not connect cleanly with any of their headers to give the hosts their first win in six games.

These teams will meet again this weekend, but with their playoff fates already decided, Chicago should make easy work of clinching home-field advantage for their semifinal.

Team

Games Played

Wins

Losses

Draws

GD

Points

Seattle

17

11

3

3

17

33

Chicago

18

7

3

8

7

28

Kansas City

18

8

6

4

11

25

Washington

17

8

5

4

4

25

Portland

18

6

8

4

-1

22

Sky Blue

18

5

7

6

-5

20

Houston

18

5

8

5

-6

19

Western New York

18

5

8

5

-9

18

Boston

18

4

11

3

-18

15

 

Goals of the Week: Week 21

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: Kim Little (Seattle Reign) vs. Houston Dash 8/21/2015

Kim Little’s performance Friday night showed why she was a runaway winner with the MVP  winner last season. Her first goal was a good breakaway, but her second was a great shot from distance. She did well to gather a pass from Megan Rapinoe and turn towards goal. Since there weren’t any defenders that wanted to close her down as she dribbled towards goal, she unleashed a good, bouncing effort across goal past Erin McLeod in goal.

#2: Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City) vs. Boston Breakers 8/22/2015

While Holiday didn’t do any harm with her finish, the build up to her goal was some of the best passing you’ll see in the NWSL this year. Holiday started the move with a pass to Mandy Laddish. The midfielder played a smart ball into the path of Holiday, but the U.S. international let it go to Amy Rodriguez, who put the ball on a platter for Holiday to finish. One-touch passing doesn’t come much better than this.

#3: Kim Little (Seattle Reign) vs. Houston Dash 8/21/2015

It’s amazing that in her MVP season last year, in which she scored 16 goals, Little didn’t score a single hat-trick. But she managed to get one this season with a glorious solo goal in the 90th minute vs. Houston. Her tricks were on show as she cut back on Toni Pressley, hesitated to throw Meghan Klingenberg and Allyscha Chapman off, before keeping her composure to clip the ball over Erin McLeod.

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