Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
And the sixth week of the National Women’s Soccer League was the week when the Seattle Reign finally got beat.
But FC Kansas City came awfully close, managing to score twice on the Reign — more than any team has in one game so far this season. Unfortunately for Kansas City, they continue to be haunted by late goals that have the effect of wiping out the rest of their hard work. They score a lot, but they give up a lot of goals too — and for that, slip in our rankings.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Red Stars took full advantage of facing the last-placed Boston Breakers twice in one week, posting their biggest wins of the season to surge up in the league table and our rankings.
It was a week for some big shuffling, thanks to an interesting schedule.
Here are the SBI NWSL Power Rankings this week:
SBI NWSL Power Rankings (Week 5)
1. (Last week- 1) SEATTLE REIGN FC (7-0-0)
OUTLOOK- After six relatively easy wins, the Reign finally found a worthy competitor in this week’s iteration of FC Kansas City – and Reign passed the test. In the first hint of cracks in the Reign team, they let Kansas City back into the game after holding a 2-0 lead for most of the first half. But they rallied late and found a win against an FC Kansas City team that looked to be at their strongest all season. It was a close call that showed that the Reign may not forever stay on top, but for now, Seattle still reign supreme.
2. (Last week- 6) CHICAGO RED STARS (4-2-1)
OUTLOOK- Chicago certainly earned their bump in the rankings this week – they won two matches for six points and the sole second spot on the league table. The Red Stars showed they are capable of scoring more than one goal in a game, which is huge for a club whose defensive power hasn’t been matched in the attack. But it needs to be noted that NWSL’s scheduling quirks pitted the Red Stars against the beleaguered Boston Breakers twice in the same week. Boston is the worst team in the league and it’s not even close, so the Red Stars’ boost this week should be taken with a grain of salt as much tougher challenges lie ahead. Still, they get a boost for taking full advantage of playing a vulnerable team and performing the best they have all season. If they can keep it up, they can fend off tougher tests.
3. (Last week- 5) WASHINGTON SPIRIT (3-4-0)
OUTLOOK- The Washington Spirit had only one game this week, but they sure made it count. Against a full-strength Western New York Flash side that had Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd, with each scoring a goal, the Spirit was buoyed by Jodie Taylor’s breakout performance. It showed the Spirit don’t need to just rely on Diana Matheson every game. And the fact that Washington came back after being down at the half shows this team’s transformation from last season is complete. When Spirit are playing their best, they are a team that is in the top half of the league, without question.
4. (Last week- 3) PORTLAND THORNS FC (3-1-2)
OUTLOOK- The Portland Thorns remain a formidable team and a big part of that is Nadine Angerer, who saved a penalty kick and single-handedly kept Portland ahead of the Dash with a couple stretching saves. But the Thorns still have problems controlling the midfield as the Dash threatened Portland repeatedly in their match this week. Personnel-wise, the Thorns may be the second-best team in the league — but their lines look out of sync. Against a Dash team that looked so weak just the week prior, the final result was too close to heap praise on the Thorns for the win.
5. (Last week- 2) FC KANSAS CITY (3-4-2)
OUTLOOK- FC Kansas City is finding a rhythm and becoming a scary opponent. Look no further than midfielder Erika Tymrak’s two blockbuster goals this week – her first of the season. Without Amy Rodriguez needing to carry the team on her back, FC Kansas City has been looking for more threatening. Unfortunately, Kansas City continues to earn their reputation as a team that can’t close out games. Consider this: They are second overall in goals scored behind the first-placed Seattle Reign, but second overall in goals conceded behind the last-placed Boston Breakers. They nearly became the first team to squeeze a point out of the unstoppable Seattle Reign, until they conceded late. And they had the Dash beat until the same thing happened. If they want to be competing for the title, they need to stop giving up late goals, which is an all too common occurrence.
6. (Last week- 9) HOUSTON DASH (1-5-1)
OUTLOOK- As they sit in second-last place, the best news for the Dash is that they haven’t lost faith, even after some very discouraging results in the early part of this season. This week they kept a strong Portland Thorns side mostly at bay, falling 0-1 at home again, but showed good signs of fight. Better yet, they tied an FC Kansas City that is doing well to find its form and is making it tough for teams. It appears the Dash are digging deep as Randy Waldrum searches for a solution. No one should be surprised if he finds it, but sitting all the way in eighth place out of nine teams, the Dash better hope it happens sooner rather than later.
7. (Last week- 4) WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH (3-2-1)
OUTLOOK- The Flash have all the pieces to be a great team and continue to create good chances on goal. But the team chemistry is not quite there yet as they seem to have trouble finishing. Last season, it took the Flash a few weeks to get on the same page and they really hit their stride late before playoffs. Only time will tell if the Flash are going through the same thing again this year.
8. (Last week- 7) SKY BLUE FC (1-3-3)
OUTLOOK- Sky Blue had the week off and that’s probably a good thing. Their current seventh place standing in the league table is about what they deserve and they will need to come back from their break focused and refreshed because tough opponents in the Washington Spirit and the Portland Thorns lie ahead next week.
9. (Last week- 8) BOSTON BREAKERS (1-5-0)
OUTLOOK- There’s not much to say about the Boston Breakers that hasn’t been said already. The Chicago Red Stars went into this week having never scored more than a goal per game this season, but came away scoring seven in two matches against the Breakers. The Breakers have the worst defense in the league and unsurprisingly have conceded the most goals in the league. It’s unclear if they need a new formation, a new mentality, or new players, but something’s got to give.
What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Is there a team that should be higher? Would you rank a team lower?
Share your thoughts below.