Photo by Jane G. Photography/Seattle Reign
By KAREEN DROT
Four clubs have an opportunity to steal second place from the Portland Thorns on Sunday, but will have to wait until after Portland hosts the Seattle Reign FC on Saturday.
Seattle sits seven points ahead of Portland, riding a five game win streak at the top of the National Women’s Soccer League table. The Reign triumphed on the road in Week 4 against Sky Blue FC and Washington, while Portland came from behind to equalize against the Western New York Flash.
Vying for that second place spot is the Flash, who sit in third with seven points. A win this week against Sky Blue FC could lift them to the spot just under the Reign.
Sky Blue FC and FC Kansas City are in the same boat, coming off their first wins of the season in Week 4 only to lose their stride in Week 5’s midweek matchups with FCKC losing to WNY as Sky Blue FC earned a point against the Chicago Red Stars. FCKC will have a chance to get back on track as they host the Washington Spirit on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Chicago hosts the Houston Dash for a chance to move up the league table as the Red Stars are in seventh place with Houston trailing by a point in eighth place.
Here’s a closer look at the NWSL’s Week 5 fixtures:
SEATTLE REIGN FC AT PORTLAND THORNS FC (SATURDAY 7:00 pm ET watch live)
Seattle’s defense is intelligent and cohesive – this could be an advantage for the Reign to earn another road win. Portland has struggled with set pieces and communication when pushing the ball forward, this could provide Seattle with an opportunity to set up Kim Little or Beverly Goebel down the field for a goal.
If Portland can get Christine Sinclair ninvolved, then maybe Portland could be the first team to defeat Seattle. Sinclair’s height is an advantage against a shorter Seattle defense, which should allow her to win goals off headers.
SKY BLUE FC AT WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH (SUNDAY 3:00 pm ET watch live)
Sky Blue should consider using the 4-4-2 formation that produced a win against Boston in Week 4, with Monica Ocampo and Jonelle Filigno up top. But the Flash defense is one of the best in the league, giving the opposition little space around the 18 yard box, so Sky Blue might have to work on the wings rather down the center of the field.
HOUSTON DASH AT CHICAGO RED STARS (SUNDAY 6:00 pm ET – watch live)
Houston has conceded nine goals in four games whereas Chicago has only conceded three goals thanks to goalkeeper, Karina LeBlanc. Chicago’s defense could make the difference in this game especially if defenders such as Julie Johnston or Rachel Quon can send balls down the wings for Adriana Leon or Zakiya Bywaters.
But when it comes to goals, neither team is superior – Houston has only scored in one game all season while Chicago has trouble placing shots on target.
WASHINGTON SPIRIT AT FC KANSAS CITY (SUNDAY 7:00 pm ET – watch live)
Washington is strong down the center of the field which could force FCKC to place more emphasis in the midfield in order to push the Spirit offense at bay. The Spirit might look to Crystal Dunn down the flank in order to provide Washington with a variety of options, if Dunn can link up with Christine Nairn or Diana Matheson, then Washington might clinch the lead.
What do you think of this weekend’s NWSL slate? Which matchup are you looking forward to the most? Will Seattle finally get less than a win? Can the Dash bounce back from their embarrassing loss last week?
Share your thoughts below.