Friday night’s weather postponement in Houston meant that for the first time this season the NWSL did not play a full slate of games, and with the Washington Spirit and the Houston Dash thus absent from the schedule we had a change atop the league standings.
But we will get to that in a moment, instead, let’s start in Portland, where a remarkable crowd showed up to watch the Thorns and the Seattle Reign battle to a 0-0 draw.
Portland Thorns 0-0 vs. Seattle Reign
A big crowd at a soccer game in Portland? What’s a big deal about that, you ask? The Timbers sell out, always and the Thorns pack them in too. On Sunday, though it would have been fair to wonder what effect all the missing U.S. internationals would have on the crowd.
The answer turned out to be none at all. Missing for the home side were goalie Adrianna Franch, defenders Meghan Klingenberg and Emily Sonnett, and midfielders Allie Long, Tobin Heath, and Lindsey Horan.
Seattle was without U.S. number one keeper Hope Solo but the Reign were not as hard hit by USWNT selections, and even welcomed Jessica Fishlock back after a surprisingly quick recovery from injury.
18,114 showed up and given all the star power missing from the Thorns lineup, they likely were happy enough with the goalless draw.
For coming out in numbers like that, here is one Player of the Game vote for the Portland fans.
FC Kansas City 2-0 vs Orlando Pride
From two-time defending champs to winless through six games, that is the trajectory that the proud KCFC has endured this season, so this 2-0 win over Orlando had to feel like a mighty weight had been lifted from the team’s shoulders.
And they did it minus Becky Sauerbrunn and Heather O’Reilly, the veteran leaders who were called into U.S. WNT camp. Others stepped up to lead the way for the strugglers; first and foremost were goalscorers Yael Averbuch, Erika Tymrak, and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
Orlando had to make due without Alex Morgan and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, with the latter leaving a 348-minute shutout streak for her backup, Aubrey Bledsoe and her teammates to defend.
They couldn’t, and so KC finally have one in the win column and have climbed above the Boston Breakers, who lost again, and out of last place.
Western New York Flash 4-0 vs Boston Breakers
Prosperity proved too hard to handle for the Breakers who followed up their first win of the season, last week’s 1-0 triumph over FC Kansas City, with the club’s biggest defeat of the year.
After Taylor Smith opened the scoring in the 15th minute with her first NWSL goal this game was Gone in 60 Seconds as the league’s Player of the Week Lynn Williams banged home two goals in less than a minute to seal the win for WNY.
A late pk only added to Boston’s misery as the team, which has scored just one goal in 2016, fell into 10th place in the 10 team league.
Chicago Red Stars 1-1 vs. Sky Blue FC
Chicago was more heavily hit by U.S. national team defections than their visitors from New Jersey but despite that advantage, there was nothing between the sides after 90 minutes as the two sides settled for a 1-1 draw in the City of Broad Shoulders.
The home side could have been expected to struggle with first-team netminder Alyssa Naeher, defense leader Julie Johnston and in-form attacker Christen Press all off on national team duty, still it was the host team that jumped into the lead on Sofia Huerta’s first career NWSL goal in the 34th minute.
Huerta might have added another goal or two but the Red Stars were unable to add to their score and ended up paying the price when Sky Blue equalized in the 69th minute through substitute Leah Galton.
Sky Blue was without attacking fullback Kelley O’Hara, so coach Christy Holly will look at the trip to Chicago as a point gained rather than a point lost. Chicago may feel that all three points were there to be had but first place in the NWSL standings will likely soothe any disappointment the Red Stars may be battling.