Week 11 saw Alex Morgan announce her return to both the international as well as the NWSL stage with a brace against France and against Washington. This translated into a resurgent Portland Thorns FC who suddenly are looking like a playoff contender once again.
Seattle Reign FC managed to hold on to their unbeaten record with a late comeback against Western New York. With Washington and Chicago coming back down to earth, 3rd place through 7th place is tight and the run in to the end of the season promises to be exciting.
This week marks the return to NWSL of Sarah Hagen, Tobin Heath and the NWSL debut of Meghan Klingenberg.
Here are the Orange in the Oven NWSL power rankings for week 11 (see last week’s rankings here):
1. Seattle Reign FC (11-0-2), 1st Place (Last Week – 1)
Seattle successfully came through two away matches this week by beating Boston, 2-0, and coming back to top Western New York, 2-1. It took goals from Kate Deines and Sydney LeRoux in the final 8 minutes to see Seattle through, however.
Haley Kopmeyer held her own in goal in the absence of Hope Solo. The questions going forward will be around Solo’s situation and whether that will prove to be a distraction for her or for the team.
Week 12 Schedule: Seattle returns home this weekend for what should be a win against Sky Blue FC.
2. FC Kansas City (8-4-3), 2nd Place (Last week – 2)
A 1-0 win at Chicago took FC Kansas City’s run to five wins in a row and seven without losing. This week they add Sarah Hagen to their very impressive arsenal of offensive weapons. How she fits in with Amy Rodriguez playing so well at the forward position remains to be seen. However, a player of the quality of Hagen is a great luxury to have coming off the bench.
Despite their great run, FC Kansas City is still eight points adrift of Seattle who have two games in hand.
Week 12 Schedule: A very tasty match-up awaits this weekend as FC Kansas City hosts the surging Portland Thorns.
3. Portland Thorns FC (6-4-2), 4th Place (Last week – 4)
A 6-1 thrashing of the Washington Spirit has observers wondering if Portland is finally back on track. A brace from Alex Morgan and influential play from Veronica Boquete would suggest they are.
Perhaps just as importantly, Christine Sinclair finally opened her goal scoring account for the season. If she regains her confidence and begins converting opportunities, Portland will be difficult to stop.
The impending return of Tobin Heath just makes this team look even more dangerous.
Week 12 Schedule: Portland are in mid-week action against Sky Blue FC. A weekend road trip to FC Kansas City will be a firm test of where this team really stands right now.
4. Western New York Flash (5-7-2), 6th Place (Last week – 5)
Western New York are in 4th place in the power rankings because somebody has to be. In truth, the Flash did not have an awful week. They continued Chicago’s recent woes with a 2-0 win at home and came very close to being the first team to beat Seattle. A late collapse ended that hope, however.
News that Abby Wambach will be out longer than originally anticipated did not do the Flash any favors. They remain in the playoff hunt, but only because of the up and down nature of so many of the teams around them. With Portland possibly kicking it into gear, the Flash need to step it up as well.
Week 12 Schedule: The Flash have a rare Friday match at home against Boston on tap this week.
5. Chicago Red Stars (6-6-2), 3rd Place (Last week – 3)
Despite five straight matches without a win, Chicago still sits in 3rd place in the standings. This is both a product of their earlier five game winning streak as well as the inconsistency of the teams around them.
Unless Chicago can get their act together, they will see Portland blow past them into third. 4th place, however, is another matter with neither Western New York nor Washington setting the world on fire. Still, the Fire need to right the ship quickly.
Week 12 Schedule: Chicago is off until a July 4th meeting with Portland.
6. Washington Spirit (6-6-1), 4th Place (Last week – 5)
Wow, just when Washington starts impressing, they go and lose three in a row including an absolute blowout against Portland this week. With only one goal scored over that period, the Spirit suddenly look fairly toothless. A trade brought in Lisa De Vanna; another forward who is struggling to score.
Crystal Dunn missing time due to injury is not helping matters. Christine Nairn and Diana Matheson continue to impress, however.
Week 12 Schedule: Washington travels to Houston this weekend to face the Dash. A loss would allow Houston to get into the race for 4th place.
7. Houston Dash (4-8-1), 7th Place (Last week – 6)
The Dash had the week off so scheduled a match against FC Dallas U-23 women which they dominated in an 8-1 victory as Randy Waldrum got a win over his son, Ben Waldrum.
The most important thing to happen this week for the Dash, however, is getting Whitney Engen and Meghan Klingenberg back with the latter finally ready to play this weekend against Washington.
Week 12 Schedule: The Dash have an important Saturday match against Washington. A win moves them to within touching distance of the pack.
8. Sky Blue FC (2-6-6), 8th Place (Last week – 8)
At this stage, Sky Blue and Boston are really 8a and 8b. A weekend 1-1 draw between the two teams confirms this.
While Sky Blue may have performed above their capabilities last season, they are severely under performing this season. This side should be capable of more, but is not achieving it.
Week 12 Schedule: Sky Blue has a brutal week in store for them with a road trip through Portland on Wednesday and Seattle on Saturday.
9. Boston Breakers (3-9-1), 9th Place (Last week – 9)
Boston’s seven match road trip is underway. They will not see Harvard Stadium again until August. This stretch is unlikely to be kind to the team.
Week 12 Schedule: At Western New York on Friday.