NWSL Week 18 Midweek Recap

Peter Aiken

With Chicago's loss, the final four spots for the play-offs have been set. FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Western New York Flash and Sky Blue FC have booked a ticket to the post-season.

Boston Breakers vs Portland Thorns FC, Final Score 2-1

Heather O'Reilly clinched the game winner as Breakers beat Portland 2-1 at home.

A lot of attention was placed on Wednesday's match for the sole purpose that Portland could clinch a playoff spot or Boston could increase their chances at making it into the top four. However, eight minutes into the game, Portland would be faced a difficult predicament. Alex Morgan exited the field with a knee injury that was sustained following a challenge from Jazmyne Avant.

Following her exit from the field Portland rallied together with Christine Sinclair and Nikki Marshall putting great shots on frame but were blocked by Cat Whitehill and Alyssa Naeher. Both teams walked into the locker rooms at halftime scoreless.

At the start of the second half, Tiffany Weimer, who came on for Morgan, took very little time to get Portland on the board. In the 51st minute, Weimer slid past the Boston defense and struck the ball towards the far post, beyond Naeher's reach. Weimer's first goal of the season put Portland up 1-0 over Boston.

Fifteen minutes later, Lianne Sanderson received a through ball into the box from Sydney Leroux and clinches the equalizer. Portland struggled defensively against Boston late into the second half, as the Breakers put up six on frame shots. In the 84th minute, Heather O'Reilly, with an assist from Whitehill, scored the game winner from inside the box.

Western New York Flash vs Seattle Reign FC, Final Score 1-0

Carli Lloyd's lone goal in the second half sealed a trip to the playoffs for the Western New York Flash.

The Flash had the upper hand from the kickoff. Offensively, they dominated the field putting five shots on frame to Seattle's one during the opening half. Despite failing to hit the back of the net, the Flash continued to maintain possession and press the Seattle half for a majority of the first half.

Carli Lloyd had the best opportunities on goal in the first half but couldn't place her strikes on target. In the 13th minute, her 20 yard shot intended for a semi-open net sailed wide of the post. Seventeen minutes later, Lloyd's 18 yard shot hit the crossbar. Seattle tried to counter late in the first half with a one-on-one encounter between Adriana Franch and Christine Nairn, but the Seattle midfielder struck the ball wide of the post.

Seattle nearly clinched the lead minutes into the second half after Kaylyn Kyle's on target strike was cleared off the line by Sarah Huffman. Shortly after, Lloyd had the final say in the 53rd minute when she broke the deadlock. Lloyd carried the ball towards the 18 yard box but laid it off for Wambach before making run in between two defenders. Wambach sent Lloyd a through ball into the box and defeated Solo one-on-one. Lloyd's goal was enough to defeat Seattle, 1-0, and carry bump the Flash from fourth place to second.

Washington Spirit vs Chicago Red Stars, Final Score 1-0

The Spirit earned their first shutout of the season and won with a lone goal from Lupita Worbis in the 58th minute against Chicago.

Despite two weather delays and lightning alerts, Washington got off to a great start in the first half. The Spirit dominated the field offensively, putting five shots on frame but could not find the back of the net. Their defense played a large role in keeping a scoreless first half as they managed to frequently disposess Chicago up top.

Chicago pressed the Spirit on several occasions but keeper Chantel Jones was there to make multiple saves. The Red Stars had two back to back opportunities to open the scoring in the 17th minute with headers on target from Julianne Sitch and Jackie Santacaterina but they were easy collections for Jones.

At the start of the second half, Chicago worked hard to gain possession but struggled to interrupt the flow of the Spirit's midfield passing. Chicago out shot Washington 4-1 but only put one shot on target. Lupita Worbis scored the lone goal of the night in the 57th minute.

Worbis moved out of the central midfield towards the box to find Diana Matheson on the edge of the 18. The Canadian international with three Red Stars players trailing behind her set up a cross for Worbis into the box where the Mexican international struck a low ball towards the far post that eventually earned Washington their second win this season.

The match concluded in the 81st minute due to severe weather warnings and the result was final due to league rules.

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