Week 9 of the National Women’s Soccer League saw the 10 teams return to action from an international break plagued by injuries to several key players, and while some teams were able to adjust to their misfortunes, other teams did not fare so well. And to recap it all, here are the latest Power Rankings.
1 (+2): North Carolina Courage (7-3-0; def. Boston 3-1)
Although North Carolina entered their match against Boston with Lynn Williams, Jess McDonald, and Sabrina D’Angelo ruled out by minor injuries, the depth of the Courage attack stepped up and carried the day. Kristen Hamilton took full advantage of her first start in two years and scored a brace in the first 15 minutes, and Ashley Hatch added a third to ice the result by halftime. Although Katelyn Rowland was unable to stop a shross from Adriana Leon crossing the line in the second half, she was otherwise unchallenged by the few forays from the Boston front line.
Next match: 6/24 @ Boston at 4 PM EST
2 (-1): Chicago Red Stars (5-2-2; drew Washington 1-1)
One of the only teams unaffected by the injury bug, Chicago hosted Washington in a rematch of their epic 2016 semifinal looking to close the gap on league leaders North Carolina. But their hopes of securing yet another home win were shelved when the Spirit took a first half lead and, still trailing with 10 minutes remaining in the contest, the Red Stars were on track for their first home loss of 2017. But Chicago was handed a lifeline when Christen Press earned a penalty, which she converted to pull her side level and salvage a point.
Next match: 6/25 vs Sky Blue at 6 PM EST
3 (-1): Portland Thorns FC (4-2-3; lost to Sky Blue 1-3)
Portland entered their match against Sky Blue hoping to sweep the Jersey side and move into second place in the standings. But in a match marred by physical play, the Thorns conceded after 25 seconds and despite their best efforts to equalize, could not break through until the final kick of the game when Sky Blue had already added two second half goals to their early strike. Christine Sinclair was able to keep Portland from being shutout right at the death when she buried a rebound from her saved penalty kick but the Thorns definitely didn’t come out the way they wanted to last week.
Next match: 6/24 @ Washington at 10 PM EST
4 (+1): Sky Blue FC (5-4-1; def. Portland 1-3)
Sky Blue traveled to the fortress of Providence Park to face a Portland team that had outplayed them two weeks prior, and they flipped the script on the Thorns to snatch the 3 points. Raquel Rodriguez’ record-tying goal 25 seconds in put Sky Blue in front and Sam Kerr became only the third player in NWSL history to score 30 regular season goals with a second-half brace, erasing any doubt about the game’s outcome. A stoppage time goal from Portland after a penalty save by Kailen Sheridan was the lone downer in what was an otherwise strong win for Sky Blue.
Next match: 6/25 @ Chicago at 6 PM EST
5 (+2): Orlando Pride (3-3-3; def. Houston 2-4)
It was the Marta Show for Orlando, as they earned their second consecutive win with a thumping of bottom-of-the-table Houston. The Pride forward was involved in all four Orlando goals, scoring twice and assisting both Camila and Alanna Kennedy’s tallies. But it was not smooth sailing for the visitors in the last few minutes, as two defensive lapses allowed Houston to strike twice.
Next match: 6/24 vs Houston at 3:30 PM EST
6 (-2): Seattle Reign FC (3-2-4; drew Kansas City 2-2)
Looking to rebound from a disappointing performance against Chicago, Seattle squared off against Kansas City and came away with a hard-fought draw. With a first half long range strike from Megan Rapinoe and Nahomi Kawasumi putting the Reign ahead late in the second half, it seemed like the visitors were on track to earn their first ever win in KC. But it was short-lived, as Seattle’s defense failed to clear a corner just three minutes after Kawasumi’s goal and were punished with an equalizer from the Blues.
Next match: 6/24 vs Kansas City at 10 PM EST
7 (+1): FC Kansas City (3-3-3; drew Seattle 2-2)
Kansas City hosted Seattle in the first match of a home and home series and started off well when Alexa Newfield returned from suspension to give the Blues the lead in the 23rd minute. But Seattle equalized less than 10 minutes later and took the lead late in the match, leaving KC fans dreading a second consecutive loss. However, Maegan Kelly popped up in the 84th minute to head home a cross from Yael Averbuch and give her team the draw.
Next match: 6/24 @ Seattle at 10 PM EST
8 (+1): Washington Spirit (2-5-2; drew Chicago 1-1)
Washington hit the road to Chicago, and despite surrendering the majority of possession and space, found themselves with a first half lead when Francisca Ordega burned the Red Stars’ backline and fired home for her third goal of the season. But the Spirit were denied the win when Shelina Zadorsky brought down Christen Press in the penalty area late in the second half, and the Chicago forward made no mistake from the spot to end Washington’s hopes of a victory.
Next match: 6/24 vs Portland at 7 PM EST
9 (-3): Boston Breakers (2-5-2; lost to North Carolina 3-1)
Boston traveled down to North Carolina looking to avoid a third consecutive loss, but similar to their two previous games, the Breakers found themselves in a 2-0 hole within 15 minutes. And with star rookie Rose Lavelle sidelined by a hamstring injury, Boston’s offense was rendered impotent by the intense pressure of the Courage defense. But Adriana Leon ensured that Boston would not leave without a consolation when she found the back of the net with an endline cross to spoil the clean sheet for the home side.
Next match: 6/24 vs North Carolina at 4 PM EST
10 (-): Houston Dash (2-7-0; lost to Orlando 2-4)
Houston fans were given reason to hope that their team’s struggles would end when Carli Lloyd made her return to the Dash lineup against Orlando. That hope was in vain, as Lloyd failed to land on the scoresheet, and the reshuffled backline was hit for four goals by the Marta-led Pride offense. Poliana and Nichelle Prince each scored for the Dash in the final few minutes, but the late strikes were little consolation for a team in total freefall.
Next match: 6/24 @ Orlando at 3:30 PM EST