No. 4 Sky Blue FC, No. 3 Portland Thorns, No. 1 WNY Flash and No. 2 FC Kansas City prepare for the NWSL playoffs this Saturday with the Blues taking on the Thorns on home turf in Overland Park, KS while the Flash host Sky Blue at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester.
Its been one wild ride for the inaugural NWSL season, and as it comes to a close with WNY Flash claiming the honor as the regular season champ last minute, it’s safe to say that as the semis and Championship loom- who knows who will win overall.
WNY Flash vs. Sky Blue FC
All eyes have been on the Flash for the past few weeks, as they have managed to surge ahead in standings with decisive wins that were not won by mere luck, but with diligence and determination that really showed their skill and aggression to get work done.
U.S. WNT forward Abby Wambach has been a key tool in orchestrating goal producing plays whether heading the ball into the net herself or heading it over to a ready-and-waiting teammate. Australian National Team striker, Samantha Kerr has also made her mark for the Flash this season, boasting five goals and five assists in 16 games.
Meanwhile, Sky Blue FC is looking to buckle down and bite the bullet as they go up against the team that has beaten them three times in a row during the regular season. But though Sky Blue hangs behind the big dogs at No. 4, don’t underestimate this sleeping giant, which could be waiting for the semis to awaken, as being at No. 1 isn’t new for them. Forwards Danesha Adams and Lisa De Vanna have been a dangerous combo throughout the season and Mexican forward Monica Ocampo has contributed her fair share of goals as well and was selected by media as the NWSL player of the month for August.
“We are going to take a close look at this postseason match and develop our game plan in the next day or two,” Sky Blue head coach Jim Gabarra told Empire of Soccer. “The biggest thing for us is that we had three of our four worst performances of the season against the Flash. Being a playoff game, I expect us to show up with the proper energy, focus and intensity level that will be needed to beat a very good team.”
FC Kansas City vs. Portland Thorns
Kansas City tasted victory at the top of the table for a little bit and though they were shaken by the Flash in the final week, this team has the talent to bring it back- everyone has a bad day every once in awhile, right? I mean, you’ve got NWSL goalkeeper of the year, Nicole Barnhart, NWSL rookie of the year Erika Tymrak and NWSL Golden Boot winner Lauren Holiday leading the Kansas City pack. Need I say more?
The Blues raised eyebrows back in week 12 when head coach Andonovski adopted a new game strategy to keep the team focusing on a strong game finish that earned them a surprise win against the Thorns. It set off a win streak like no other for Kansas City that ended with them at No. 1 with home field advantage for the semis.
And now, they will meet the Thorns once more in the semis-ironic, huh? The Thorns made their mark in the beginning of the season and was the team to watch, but they have had their fair share of injuries towards the end, including a knee sprain for U.S. WNT forward Alex Morgan sustained against the Boston Breakers Aug. 7. Though she sat out the final season match against Seattle Reign FC last Saturday, she is expected to be ready to go for semis.
But even if Morgan doesn’t pull through, the blues need to be weary of Christine Sinclair- Portland’s other goal-scoring machine. She spoke volumes during the Thorns final match against Seattle last week, scoring a brace to beat them 2-1. Sure, it didn’t clinch them a host spot in the semis, but it definitely added some fire to the competitive atmosphere.
|2.||FC Kansas City||22||11||6||5||38|
|3.||Portland Thorns FC||22||11||6||5||38|
|4.||Sky Blue FC||22||10||6||6||36|