Western New York Flash vs Washington Spirit
Match Date/Time: Friday June 28 2013 at 7:05 pm ET
Venue: Sahlen's Stadium, Rochester, NY
Online: WNYF LiveSport Stream
National Team Duty: Adriana and Samantha Kerr
Following Seattle's triumphant victory on Wednesday, Washington is now only a point ahead of the eighth placed team. For Washington to secure a victory or draw against WNYF, they will need to produce a powerful defense that can withstand the amount of heavily artillery that the Flash pack up front.
The Flash are unbeaten in eight games including a 2-0 defeat over Washington earlier this month. WNYF's star striker, Abby Wambach is tied for first place with Lauren Cheney for the NWSL's leader in goals. With seven goals under her belt in eight appearances, she is a threat from anywhere on the field but more precisely, within the box scoring on her famous headers.
Washington's biggest problem is that without Diana Matheson, they cannot produce dynamic attacks down the center or challenge the oppositions defense. Without Matheson's attacking prowess in the midfield, the Spirit suffer offensively. In addition, their defense is weakened without Tori Huster in the back four alongside Ali Krieger and Robyn Gayle. Huster was unconventionally left out of the starting XI last week against FCKC which resulted in a 2-0 loss.
Seattle Reign FC vs Chicago Red Stars
Match Date/Time: Saturday June 29 2013 at 8:00 PM PT, 11:00 PM ET
Venue: Starfire Stadium, Tukwilla, WA
Online: NWSL Soccer YouTube Channel
Seattle has a chance to record their second consecutive win against a team that has also experienced a turbulent season, picking themselves up from the bottom. Despite Wednesdays 2-1 victory over Boston, Seattle remain in the eighth place but this does not forecast their future performance.
With the addition of Megan Rapinoe, Kennya Cordner and consistent performances from Hope Solo, Seattle are looking at a bright future in the NWSL. Rapinoe has demonstrated why she is one of the most anticipated arrivals of the season after her performance on Wednesday against Boston. She opened up the game, threatening to take the lead early with powerful strikes that ricocheted off the crossbar or blocked by the keeper. Rapinoe has a knack of finding pockets outside the box and connecting with her teammates. She knows where she wants to play the ball and this allows her to create opportunities.
Solo continues to make crucial saves between the posts for Seattle and more so, her back four are combining their strengths to preventing conceding many goals. Seattle has all the right tools now but as does Chicago after bringing on broad German internationals, Inka Grings and Sonja Fuss. Both players have scored for Chicago and have lifted Chicago into sixth place.
Chicago has gradually improved their performance on the field, creating opportunities through Lori Chalupny, Ella Masar and Inka Grings but in order to continue their stride, they will need to utilize the flanks because that is where Chalupny is most dangerous and Seattle's midfield might not be well equipped to shut her down without committing fouls.
FC Kansas City vs Portland Thorns FC
Match Date/Time: Sunday June 30 2013 at 3:10 PM
Venue: Verizon Wireless Field, Overland Park, KS
Online: NWSL Soccer YouTube Channel
Entering their third meeting, FC Kansas City trails Portland by six points. Both clubs perform well against each other with the record currently favoring Portland after an inaugural match draw and a week nine 4-3 win over FCKC. In both games, a penalty kick was awarded to either club.
The main difference between both clubs going into the game on Sunday is that FC Kansas City has improved immensely while Portland is struggling to prove that they are one of the top teams in the league. While the NT players were away earlier this month, Portland's underrated players came out in full force. Mana Shim and Danielle Foxhoven shined and could have prevented a scoreless draw against Sky Blue if they were chosen to start the match.
Shim has a great attacking presence, she is aware of her surroundings and does well to maintain possession and link up with her team. If Shim can start for Portland, she might be able to give the Thorns a much needed lead because FC Kansas City are ready to turn the tables on Portland.
Lauren Cheney leads the NWSL in goals with seven under her belt. She proved on Wednesday she can score with any foot even when she is being closed down inside the box. Her footwork on the ball is what makes her dangerous and difficult to dispossess so the Thorns defense will need to focus on her. In addition to Cheney, FCKC also have a dangerous attacking threat through Melissa Henderson, Courtney Jones and Erika Tymrak.
This trio pulled FCKC out of a trying set of matches while the NT players were away. Tymrak continues to produce goals for the club and break down the opposition. Sundays battle at Verizon Wireless Field will be epic as FCKC has a score they want to settle and defeat the second ranked team in the league.
Boston Breakers vs Sky Blue FC
Match Date/Time: Sunday June 30 2013 at 6:30 PM ET
Venue: Dilboy Stadium, Somerville, MA
Online: Boston Breakers live stream
National Team Duty: Kyah Simon, Lisa De Vanna and Caitlin Foord
Sky Blue has defeated Boston in two previous meetings. The Breakers continue to struggle defensively despite the rotation of keepers that Boston has recently undertaken with Alyssa Naeher and Ashley Phillips. On Sunday, they may have caught a break because in those two previous meetings, the Breakers were scored on by Lisa De Vanna. She is currently away on international duty.
Without De Vanna running circles around the Boston defense, Sky Blue will have less opportunities on goal unless the midfield broaden their awareness of players on the pitch. Sky Blue could have increased their shots on goal, on Wednesday, if the midfield sought to link up with Kelley O'Hara. The midfield let down the home team against FC Kansas City when they continuously overlooked the unmarked striker out on the wing. Instead of passing to O'Hara who is fast and accurate on the ball, the midfield tried connect with Sophie Schmidt who was heavily marked outside the box.
While the Breakers defense is in need of repairs, the offense is what is keeping the team afloat. SBFC will need to shut down communications between the midfield and Sydney Leroux because she does find the back of the net often and her speed will need to be contained.