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NWSL Week 14 in review: Stay where you are

Washington gets a big win over Seattle, Chicago and Boston play to a draw, and Sky Blue comes from behind to salvage a point in Western NY.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Week 14 could have been the week when someone finally made a move. The Red Stars could have lost the top spot, Sky Blue could have gotten out of the basement, Seattle could have moved into first, the Flash could have pulled that much closer to the top four. Could have, except everyone, save for Washington, pretty much blew it.

The top two teams -- Seattle and Chicago -- came into the weekend tied on points. A Red Stars draw left the door open for Seattle to officially claim the top of the table. Except the Reign got crushed by the Spirit. A single point now separates the two, but Chicago remains in first for another week.

Washington did make a move with their win, claiming third and putting a three-point gap between themselves and fourth place FC Kansas City, though the Blues play Houston on Monday night.

The bottom five also remains a mess and completely unchanged, with Western NY letting a two-goal lead and a chance to go even on points with Kansas City slip away, twice. Instead, the fifth place Flash is still two back on FCKC. Boston, too, had a chance to leapfrog the idle Thorns and Dash, but the Breakers will remain in eighth for another week, a point back on those two teams thanks to the draw with the Red Stars. And Sky Blue had a chance to take advantage of that Breakers draw and finally get out of the basement, except they, too, could only muster a draw.

A sellout crowd watches Washington make a statement
If there was any question about whether Washington really is a top four team, Saturday's 3-0 win over Seattle provided something of an answer. The Spirit not only shut out the Reign -- it's the third time this season last year's Shield winners have failed to score in a game -- but also tallied three goals for only the second time in 2015.

Amanda DaCosta broke a 0-0 deadlock a minute into the second half, before Crystal Dunn doubled DC's lead a little more than 10 minutes later. Dunn's goal was her eighth of the season, keeping her atop the Golden Boot list. Seattle's Beverly Yanez and Chicago's Sofia Huerta are close behind -- both have six goals on the season. And there was more good news on Dunn's goal, too. Diana Matheson, making her first NWSL appearance of the season, following an ACL injury last fall, picked up the assist. Christine Nairn added the third goal for the Spirit in the 83rd minute, converting a penalty kick after Dunn was taken down in the box by Seattle's Stephanie Cox.

Spirit keeper Kelsey Wys earned her third clean sheet of the season, though Ashlyn Harris should be back between the posts for Washington sometime soon. Harris and defender Ali Krieger were in attendance for Saturday's game, but still haven't suited up for the Spirit since returning from the World Cup. Seattle was also without its American World Cup stars -- Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe -- for another week. Solo was on the injured list with a left knee strain.

Boston comes up with a point in Chicago
The Red Stars may still be sitting atop the table and as the team to beat, but is Rory Dames' side starting to show some cracks? Chicago played to a 1-1 draw with the eighth place Breakers on Saturday, managing to hold onto a one goal lead for less than 10 minutes.

Lori Chalupny, making her first appearance for the Red Stars post-World Cup, scored in the 53rd minute after some shaky defending from Boston allowed Chalupny to pick up a ball from Taryn Hemmings in front of goal and slot home an easy finish. Chicago's lead was short lived though, with Stephanie McCaffrey finding the equalizer in the 62nd.

Though Chalupny made her Red Stars return this weekend, Chicago's other USWNT affiliated players -- Julie Johnston and Shannon Boxx -- were still M.I.A. Alyssa Naeher, Boston's sole World Cup winner, returned to the lineup for the Breakers, making six saves.

Sky Blue salvages a point in a comedy of defensive errors
If you want a good lesson on how not to defend, look no further than Sunday's meeting between the Western NY Flash and Sky Blue FC. The two teams -- one of which is the lowest scoring in the league -- combined for six goals en route to a 3-3 draw. Western NY saw a 3-1 lead disappear, Christie Rampone scored her second professional goal ever, and at some point soon both defenses will find out there was a game that they totally slept through.

Jasmyne Spencer and Jaelene Hinkle both scored in the first half for Western NY, before the Flash had its lead cut in half thanks to Nadia Nadim. The Flash went back up by two after Michelle Heyman put away a rebound early in the second frame. However, Western NY's two goal lead again didn't last long as Katy Freels deflected a shot off Brittany Taylor to put the Jersey side back within one. Christie Rampone netted her team's third goal, and the game's sixth, to bring things level at three and salvage a point for Sky Blue. Before Sunday, Rampone had scored just once -- through three different leagues -- in her entire club career. That goal came last season at Yurcak Field.

Rampone wasn't the only USWNT player to make her NWSL return on Sunday. Sky Blue's Kelley O'Hara and Western NY's Whitney Engen also reentered their respective lineups, with everyone but O'Hara, who was subbed out in the 89th, going the full the 90. The only USWNT player on either team who didn't appear on Sunday? Sydney Leroux, who's done for the season due to ankle surgery.


Washington Spirit 3 - 0 Seattle Reign FC
Chicago Red Stars 1 - 1 Boston Breakers

Western NY Flash 3 - 3 Sky Blue FC