North Carolina Remains Atop NWSL Leaderboard
Week 16 of the 2017 NWSL season comes to a close with matchups between top teams highlighting the weekend. North Carolina defeated Seattle Reign, while the Portland Thorns recorded three points versus the Red Stars in Chicago.
The Orlando Pride hosted the Washington Spirit in a midweek matchup with Alex Morgan and Brazilian international Marta leading the second-year club to a 3-0 victory on Tuesday. FC Kansas City welcomed the Courage to Children’s Mercy Victory Field on Thursday as the league leaders were led by Lynn Williams who recorded the lone goal of the match.
The opening match of the weekend saw the Boston Breakers travel to Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex to take on the Spirit. In the 6th minute, Estelle Johnson put the hosts on the board after collecting her own rebound and sending home a right-footed strike. Adriana Leon answered back in the 44th minute as she recorded her first tally of the night.
Chyna Williams put Washington ahead in the 64th minute after finishing a deflected ball from Boston goalkeeper Abby Smith. Estefanía Banini’s chip from the right side of the penalty area was almost enough to drop over Smith, but she made a right-handed save that was pounced on by Williams for the 2-1 advantage. Leon equalized in the 79th minute after a cross from Ifeoma Onumonu fell to her feet near the penalty spot. The forward collected and calmly placed the ball in the back of the net to salvage a point on the road.
Washington (4/W-9/L-4/T) heads on the road during Week 17, while Boston (3-7-7) returns to Jordan Field in Massachusetts.
The Pride cruised past Sky Blue FC during a dominant 5-0 performance in front of 5,243 supporters at Orlando City Stadium. Morgan and Marta each recorded two goals and an assist as the duo emerges Orlando amongst playoff discussion. Marta has 11 goals and five assists on the season, while Morgan has five goals and two assists in seven matches following her return from Olympique Lyonnais of France.
Orlando (7-6-5) sits in fourth place, while Sky Blue FC (7-9-2) falls to sixth.
Portland Thorns forward Hayley Raso opened the scoring in the 3rd minute after collecting a long ball from Lindsey Horan in the penalty area and finishing alone on goal. Christine Sinclair extended Portland’s lead six minutes later from a layoff by Dagný Brynjarsdóttir in the penalty box. Raso sent Amandine Henry down the line as she sent in a cross on the ground to Brynjarsdóttir who set Sinclair up for the easy finish.
Christen Press and Sofia Huerta recorded two goals to draw things up just before halftime as the hosts looked to remain undefeated at home in 2017. Emily Sonnett recorded the game-winner in the 55th minute after heading home a free kick from Meghan Klingenberg.
Portland (9-4-4) jumps to second place, while the Red Stars (8-4-5) fall to third.
The Houston Dash faced off against FC Kansas City at BBVA Compass Stadium in Texas with Shea Groom leading the visitors to a 1-0 victory. FCKC had just two shots on goal, while Houston recorded six. The hosts were unable to get on the board as they now head to Boston to take on the Breakers.
Houston (6-9-2) sits in seventh place, while FCKC (4-8-5) is in eighth.
Seattle Reign FC welcomed the NC Courage to Memorial Stadium in the final matchup of the weekend. A brace from Samantha Mewis kept the league leaders atop the table as Seattle remains on the heels of the top four in the NWSL.
Mewis’ first strike came from the top of the 18-yard box after Jessica McDonald played in a hard roller that Lynn Williams laid off for the midfielder. Rumi Utsugi equalized for Seattle in the 40th minute after converting a cross sent in by Lindsay Elston from the right flank. Mewis scored the game-winner in the 74th minute after her head flick into the six-yard box fell to her feet following a poor Seattle clearance. Her low, right-footed strike was out of reach of the Seattle goalkeeper as the Courage return home with three points.
North Carolina (12/W-5/L-0/T) remains in first place, while Seattle (6-5-6) falls to fifth.
Header Photo Credit: Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos