It seems that the only thing predictable about the NWSL this season is unpredictability. A week ago we declared that Portland Thorns FC were back, only to watch them drop a pair of matches this week. Sky Blue FC looked like they were in store for a world of hurt with a Cascadia road trip, but came away with 4 points. Washington looked like they were falling out of the playoff race but are now sitting in 3rd.
The only things certain at this point in the season are Seattle Reign FC and FC Kansas City (as well as the probability of Boston losing). The two teams at the top are steadily pulling away from the rest of the field. Can they maintain their current pace or will the curse of uncertainty strike them?
Here are the Orange in the Oven NWSL power rankings for week 12 (see last week’s rankings here):
1. Seattle Reign FC (11-0-3), 1st Place (Last Week – 1)
Is this a chink in Seattle’s armor that we are now detecting? Seattle drew at home against what had been a struggling Sky Blue FC side one week after having to stage a late comeback to avoid a loss against Western New York.
It could simply be a case of the Hope Solo issue momentarily distracting the team. On the plus side, Seattle still has not lost and Megan Rapinoe is looking closer to returning. Over three matches, Haley Kopmeyer has only conceded one goal, so Solo’s absence from the lineup has not resulted in an epidemic of goals against.
Kim Little’s goal scoring has slowed down as was always likely to happen at some point. No other player has shouldered the goal scoring load, however. Sydney Leroux has only 3 goals on the season as does Naho Kawasumi. Seattle needs Leroux to increase her goal scoring production or get Rapinoe back in the lineup and scoring goals in order to re-inject some energy into the team.
Week 13 Schedule: Seattle is away to Western New York in mid-week action – will the third try be the charm for the team that has twice had Seattle on the ropes and let them off? The weekend sees Seattle back at home against Boston.
2. FC Kansas City (9-4-3), 2nd Place (Last week – 2)
FC Kansas City closed the gap to Seattle to 6 points with a 1-0 win over Portland Thorns this weekend. The headline for FC Kansas City continue to be the defense, which has conceded only once goal in the last six matches after a pretty horrendous start to the season.
Amy Rodriguez has followed Kim Little in cooling off from her earlier goal scoring pace, but it has not mattered. If opponents cannot score goals against you, then you generally have a pretty good chance of winning. FC Kansas City has proven that by winning each of the last 6 matches.
July will prove a challenge for the team as they only have one game at home during the course of the month, however as of late home or away as not mattered. They simply have won.
Week 13 Schedule: FC Kansas City travel to face the suddenly resurgent Sky Blue FC.
3. Western New York Flash (6-7-2), 4th Place (Last week – 4)
At the moment you could basically flip a coin as to who belongs in 3rd place in the power rankings. In truth, based on consistency of performance nobody really belongs here. We would be justified in keeping 3rd empty and going with a 4a and 4b instead, however someone needs to fill this spot so we go with the Flash.
Western New York beat Boston Friday evening off of a brace from Carli Lloyd. It was a phenomenal performance from Lloyd who was a one woman show and won a deserved NWSL Player of the Week award as a result. If the Flash can continue to hover around the playoff spots, then they should be well positioned for a late season run once Abby Wambach returns from injury.
Week 13 Schedule: The Flash host Seattle on Wednesday followed by a weekend trip to Houston where they will attempt to avoid being swept by Dash this season.
4. Chicago Red Stars (6-6-2), 5th Place (Last week – 5)
Chicago did not play this week and move up in the power rankings as a result. They have a narrow edge on Washington here, despite what the standings say, but a continuation of their recent losing streak would change that.
Week 13 Schedule: Chicago is back in action with a July 4th meeting at Portland. When they take the field, it will have been nearly 2 weeks since their last match.
5. Washington Spirit (7-7-1), 3rd Place (Last week – 6)
A week after taking a beating at the hands of Portland, the Spirit went to Houston and came away with a 1-0 win. It was a very direct style of play by Washington that netted the win as they sought to take advantage of Houston’s high defensive line. The pace of Jodie Taylor gave the Dash defense problems all night and she finally was rewarded for her efforts with a 2nd half goal.
Ashlyn Harris put on a good show in goal to preserve the victory for Washington; a shutout for the team with the worst goals against total in the league.
Week 13 Schedule: The Spirit can make it two in a row when they host Boston on Wednesday night.
6. Portland Thorns FC (6-6-2), 4th Place (Last week – 3)
It was an awful week for Portland. Just as it seemed that they might be positioned for a good run, they drop two matches in one week including one against Sky Blue FC.
It seems as though consistency is going to be a season long issue for Portland. That is, unless Tobin Heath can give the team a lift in the midfield when she starts playing again, which could be as early as this week.
The only other piece of good news for Portland is that Christine Sinclair followed up her first goal of the season with a second against Sky Blue. She may be poised for a goal scoring streak which would come at the perfect time for Portland.
Week 13 Schedule: Portland host a July 4th match with Chicago Red Stars.
7. Sky Blue FC (3-6-7), 7th Place (Last week – 8)
It was a surprising week for Sky Blue as they went on the road to Cascadia for a pair of matches and came home with 4 points. The results pushed them past Houston in the standings and in the power rankings.
Sky Blue got results with the same players who have featured for them all season long, making the sudden 4 points all the more puzzling.
Week 13 Schedule: If NWSL form holds this season, Sky Blue will lose at home against Houston tonight before heading on the road for a Sunday meeting with FC Kansas City.
8. Houston Dash (4-9-1), 8th Place (Last week – 7)
It was a disappointing outcome for Houston this week as they could have closed the gap to Washington to 3 points but instead are now 9 points back of the Spirit and 7 points back of the final playoff spot.
Their two matches this week become critical in terms of staying in touch with the pack. Meghan Klingenberg, who has two false starts, should finally get her first start in a Dash shirt against Sky Blue.
Week 13 Schedule: Critical week with a mid-week trip to Sky Blue FC and a home match with Western New York over the weekend.
9. Boston Breakers (3-10-1), 9th Place (Last week – 9)
Boston played and lost. What else is new?
Week 13 Schedule: The month long road trip continues with trips to D.C. to face the Spirit in mid-week and a weekend trip to Seattle.