Seattle is pretty much running away with the league at this point, a win in Western NY bringing the Reign's perfect season to thirteen games without a loss. FC Kansas City has lost a game or two this season, sure, but it's getting hard to remember exactly when. The Blues, meanwhile, are looking more and more and like the only team that could even think about challenging for the top spot.
Wins for Seattle and Kansas City put some distance between them and the middle of the table, where Chicago, Portland and Washington are locked in a three-way, one-point battle for the final two playoff spots. Week 11 also featured more struggles for the Red Stars against top tier opponents, a big regression from Washington and a huge win for Portland.
Portland has been anything but consistent this season -- dominant sometimes, and a disorganized disaster others. And one of Thorns' biggest struggles coming into Saturday's game was also one of the most unlikely for a team full of big names: scoring. Before Saturday, Portland had recorded a league-worst twelve goals, with just four different players managing to find the back of the net at all. Enter Washington, and a chance to climb back into the top four for the first time in a while.
The Thorns needed just five minutes to find the back of the net, and never let up after that. Alex Morgan and Jessica McDonald scored a pair each, and Christine Sinclair and Allie Long netted one apiece as Portland matched the largest margin of victory in NWSL history -- which, oddly, the Thorns were on the other side of not that long ago -- with a 6-1 rout of the Spirit. The win moves Portland into fourth, tied on points with Chicago, who has played two more games. Washington, meanwhile, drops out of the top four, but is still just one point behind Portland and Chicago for the final playoff spot.
Can you hear me now?
While Seattle gets all the attention on and, lately, off the field (sigh), FC Kansas City has been quietly making a push towards the top, and doing it in style. The Reign may still be undefeated, but this thing's not quite over yet. Kansas City's rocky start to the season has given way to a nice little streak -- the Blues have now gone seven games without a loss thanks to a Jen Buczkowski goal and a 1-0 win over the Red Stars on Saturday. FCKC is still eight points back of the league leaders, and the Blues have played at least one more game than everyone else, but even if it can't catch the Reign, Kansas City can at least make things interesting.
But as one team rises, another must fall, and Chicago is crashing, hard. The Red Stars' red hot May has given way to an ice cold June. Chicago is now winless in five games, and still in the top four thanks mostly to the ineptitude of everyone who isn't Seattle or Kansas City.
Typical Boston, typical Sky Blue
Alyssa Naeher was very, very good for Boston, making eight saves including a poster-worthy grab on a Katy Freels rocket and another on a Freels PK. Sky Blue outshot the Breakers 22-4, but in typical fashion couldn't finish anything, save for a Kelley O'Hara goal in the second minute -- because the goals in NWSL are regulation size and not 100 feet wide by 25 feet tall. Jazmine Reeves scored for Boston in the 32nd minute, Monica Ocampo was called offside (approximately) 95 times and Freels reminded everyone that there's a better chance of seeing a unicorn than Sky Blue converting a PK this season -- the Jersey side is now 1-for-4 on kicks from the spot.
Both Boston and Sky Blue had chances to pass, or at least pull even, with the idle Houston Dash in the seventh spot, but in typical Sky Blue-Breakers fashion, the best anyone could do was a point. The Breakers remain at the bottom of the table with 10 points, while the draw -- their league-leading sixth -- keeps Sky Blue in eighth with an only marginally better 12 points.
It would be easy to understand if this was the game when Seattle finally cracked. With internationals shuffling in and out -- like everyone else -- and a major off-field distraction hovering over the Reign that made their starting goalkeeper unavailable due to, well, having to spend the weekend in jail -- very much not like everyone else -- a loss would not have been the most shocking thing to ever happen. And with the Reign down a goal and the clock ticking past the 80-minute mark, a loss looked likely. Sam Kerr's 61st-minute goal had the Flash holding on a 1-0 lead heading into the final ten minutes. Enter Carli Lloyd: Scorer of Big Goals in Big Moments. After committing a foul in the midfield that set up a Kim Little free kick, Lloyd doubled down on this particular big moment, getting on the end of Little's free kick and sending it sailing past Lydia Williams, who, if you are not following along, is the goalkeeper of the same team that Carli Lloyd also plays for. And then, because Seattle is Seattle and it was bound to happen, Jess Fishlock and Sydney Leroux combined for the season's cheekiest game winner, completing the comeback and keeping the Reign perfect at the top of the table for yet another week.
Western NY Flash 2 - 0 Chicago Red Stars
Boston Breakers 0 - 2 Seattle Reign FC
Washington Spirit 1 - 6 Portland Thorns FC
FC Kansas City 1 - 0 Chicago Red Stars
Sky Blue FC 1 - 1 Boston Breakers
Western NY Flash 1 - 2 Seattle Reign FC