NWSL Week 16 Midweek Recap

USA TODAY Sports

FC Kansas City moved to the top of the league table after defeating the Boston Breakers 3-0 at Verizon Wireless Field on Wednesday night, while Seattle keeps their play-off hopes alive with a thrilling 4-1 victory over Chicago.

FC Kansas City vs Boston Breakers, Final Score: 3-0

Three goals late in the second half in favor of FC Kansas City was enough to bury Boston 3-0 including an own goal by Kia McNeill.

A dull first half for the Boston Breakers who failed to place a single shot on target. The Breakers spent most of the opening half sitting back and defending with only Sydney Leroux and Lianne Sanderson forming attacks on net but neither hit an on frame shot.

The home side did well to overrun the visitors but failed to find the back of the net, unable to beat Boston keeper, Ashley Phillips. The FCKC defense, in particular, Kristie Mewis and Leigh Ann Robinson helped the front line throughout the night, pushing the ball out of their half and into the Breakers' quarter. Together in the first half, FCKC put five shots on frame.

Moving into the second half still scoreless, it looked like FC Kansas City would claim the lead if it were not for Phillips heroics between the posts. In the 53rd minute, Phillips knocked Jen Buczkowski's 18 yard shot wide of the post and would follow up with another crucial save in the 58th minute against Melissa Henderson.

Phillips' save against Henderson was questionable as it might have deserved a red card because she was outside her penalty box, inside the penalty arch, when she made the save possibly conceding a handball. No call was made by the referees.

The game remained scoreless for fifteen minutes until the Breakers gave FCKC a hand in securing the lead in the 72nd minute. Merritt Mathias ran up the flank towards the penalty box to drive a low shot towards the net but the ball deflected off the boot of Boston defender Kia McNeill, who redirected it into the net where Phillips was unable to get a hand to it. FCKC led 1-0 before doubling their lead in the 85th minute.

Lauren Holiday didn't score on Wednesday night but she recorded two assists for both of the closing minute goals by Courtney Jones and Merritt Mathias. In the 85th minute, Holiday, ran into the box to find Jones open in front of the goal. Jones effortlessly clipped the ball low into the net for a 2-0 FCKC lead.

The final goal of the night in the 90th minute of regular time was scored by Merritt Mathias who manipulated an own goal earlier in the night. Theresa Noyola and Holiday were working together to push the ball into the box as the Boston defense was closing in on the midfielders. Holiday flicked the ball over her head to find Mathias outside the penalty box. Mathias lobbed the ball into the net over Phillips head, shutting Boston out 3-0 at Verizon Wireless Field.

Seattle Reign FC vs Chicago Red Stars, Final Score: 4-1

Megan Rapinoe lifted Seattle to a 4-1 over Chicago Red Stars after a thrilling match which featured a PK for each side.

Thursday night's match against Chicago was Megan Rapinoe's night to shine. In the 5th minute, the U.S. midfielder opened the scoring with a fantastic ground hugging strike into the net off a free kick 25 yards out. The free kick was awarded to Seattle after Jessica Fishlock was taken down from behind by Adriana Leon.

Seattle would continue to dominate in the first half, maintaining possession and finding opportunities. Both squads sent up four shots on frame but only Seattle managed to keep a clean sheet entering the second half.

The style of play following the opening goal was aggressive as Seattle and Chicago were conceding fouls all over the field. As the pressure to find the equalizer was mounting on Chicago's shoulders, their defense was coming undone. Seattle managed to penetrate the box on several occasions and spread the back four thin.

In the 20th minute, Seattle earned a corner kick which provided them with a penalty kick opportunity after Leon cleared Kaylyn Kyle's header off the line with her arm. The handball was immediately called by the referee who assigned Leon a yellow card and awarded Seattle with a PK which was converted by Kyle.

Erin McLeod read Kyle's strike correctly but was too late to knock it out of the net as Kyle put Seattle up 2-0. The remainder of the first half played largely in Seattle's favor as they continued to push the ball forward and threaten the extend the lead.

The tempo would remain going into the second half despite Chicago's added attention to detail. The Red Stars tried to impact the scoreline early on in the 46th minute as Maribel Dominguez directed a header into the chest of Hope Solo for an easy save. Chicago's presence in the Seattle half for the early moments of the second half only proved that Seattle can handle the pressure and clear the danger, allowing Solo to keep a clean sheet until the 74th minute.

In the 68th minute, McLeod made an error in judgment as she dove towards Rapinoe to block her shot but failed to keep possession. Rapinoe picked the ball away from the keeper and knocked the ball into an open net for Seattle's third goal of the night.

It appeared Seattle was on their way to recording their first clean sheet but Chicago took away that opportunity in the 73rd minute when the second half substitute, Jen Hoy sunk the ball into the net. Before Hoy took joy in her goal, the Red Stars were given a golden opportunity to earn an earlier lead in the 71st minute when the Reign's Lauren Barnes was called out for a handball in the penalty box.

Inka Grings lined up to take the shot but her strike was well read by Solo who punched it out to keep Seattle in the game. A minute later, the Red Stars found the back of the net through Hoy snuck through the Reign back four and ran into a one on one with Solo but placed the ball around the keeper to find the back of the net.

With their clean sheet stolen by Hoy's goal, the Reign fought back to earn a fourth and final goal of the night. Rapinoe shipped a cross deep from the midfield into the box for a running Liz Bogus, who iced a low strike into the net for a 4-1 lead.

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