Finally, some movement. After weeks of Chicago doing just enough to stay in first, a draw this week against the Spirit made room for a new team atop the table. The Seattle Reign are the new league leaders, a pair of wins over Portland sending last year's Shield winners back into first. But a new top team wasn't the only change in Week 15. The bottom half of the table saw a shakeup, too, with Sky Blue FC getting a big win over Boston to leapfrog Portland into seventh and send the Breakers into the basement. The Thorns, meanwhile, slid all the way into eighth.
There are now just six weeks left to play, and with more intriguing matchups ahead in Week 16, the playoff picture is still anything but clear.
Crystal Dunn adds another one
A week after knocking off Seattle, the Washington Spirit were at it again on Saturday, this time stealing a point from the Chicago Red Stars. Thanks to another goal from Crystal Dunn, Washington was able to salvage the draw. The goal was Dunn's league-leading ninth of the season, keeping her atop the Golden Boot race, though Seattle's Beverly Yanez did add a pair on Sunday to pull within one.
Dunn's latest goal came just in time, too, with the Spirit down 1-0 to the Red Stars with less than 10 minutes to play. Christen Press had scored for Chicago in the 31st minute, and Rory Dames' side looked headed for another win. Instead, Dunn picked up a deflected Christine Nairn shot and sent it past Karina LeBlanc for the equalizer.
The draw left Chicago in a precarious position on the table, and the Reign's win over Portland on Sunday knocked the Red Stars out of first -- they're now a point behind the new league leaders. With the draw, Chicago is unbeaten in five. The Red Stars face FC Kansas City next weekend in Chicago.
The point did help the Spirit -- they've now got a three-point lead on fourth place FC Kansas City. The Blues next play on Wednesday, while Washington doesn't have a game until next weekend when it'll host the Houston Dash.
Carli Lloyd makes her return to Western NY count
After blasting the Flash for trading her in the offseason, Lloyd continued her assault on her former team on Saturday, scoring the game's only goal to give Houston a 1-0 win in Rochester.
Lloyd scored her second goal in as many games, and third of the season, in the 49th minute, heading in a floating ball from Meghan Klingenberg to give Houston the 1-0 win.
The result moves Houston into fifth, just a single point behind FC Kansas City for the final playoff spot, and the Dash play the Blues on Wednesday in Houston.
Western NY moves into sixth with the loss.
Things finally start to click for Sky Blue FC as Boston hits bottom
A season ago, we were left to wonder what things would have been like had Sky Blue FC had the services of Nadia Nadim for an entire season. A year later, there is the same question, though the names have been changed, with players like Kelley O'Hara and Sam Kerr absent for a large chunk of the season due to the World Cup. Saturday was an example of what could have been, as the Jersey side pummeled Boston with 26 shots en route to a 3-1 win.
O'Hara scored twice -- her first and second of the season -- and Kerr added the third, while Lauren Lazo scored the lone goal for Boston. Lazo's goal was the first of her NWSL career.
Sky Blue FC came into the weekend at the bottom of the table and as the league's lowest scoring team. The Jersey side has now scored three goals in two consecutive games, however, to overtake Portland at least in the scoring department, and after Saturday, they're not in last place anymore either. Sky Blue leapfrogged both the Breakers and Thorns right into seventh place with the win. With six games to play, Sky Blue is now just four points out of the final playoff spot. They face Western NY next Saturday in New Jersey.
For all Sky Blue managed to do to move up the table, Boston did the opposite, sliding down as far as you can go. Feel that? That's the cold, cold cement of the basement floor, which is exactly where the Breakers find themselves after a second loss in as many games. Boston is one of three teams with just three wins on the season -- Sky Blue FC and Portland are the others. They've also allowed a league-worst 28 goals, and haven't won since May 30. If you're counting, that's now seven straight games without a win for the Breakers. Boston is still, somehow, only six points back of fourth place, but with six games left to play and four of those six games against top four teams, that dot on the horizon that used to be the postseason is looking increasingly tiny.
Seattle takes another three points as Portland's slide continues
Four days after knocking off the Thorns in Portland, the Reign did it again, this time in Seattle. After 1-0 win on Wednesday, the Reign invited their Cascadia rivals over to do it again, except this time with triple the goals.
Jess Fishlock scored in the first half, and Beverly Yanez added a pair in the second frame as the Reign shut out their Pacific Northwest neighbors for the second time in a week.
Seattle, thanks to the win and Chicago's draw with Washington on Saturday, moves into first, though the Reign are only a point up on the Red Stars. The Reign have six games remaining, and all but one are against teams currently outside of the top four. After having an eight-game unbeaten streak snapped by Washington last weekend, Seattle has now won two straight.
Portland, meanwhile, saw the return of Nadine Angerer in net, but the former World Player of the Year's presence did little to help the Thorns stop the slide that's now landed the one time league champions in seventh. And that's not the only bad news for the Thorns. Despite a stacked roster, Portland has now failed to score in three straight games, landing on the wrong end of a shutout streak that's now at 281 minutes. Sunday was also the third consecutive loss for the Thorns.
FC Kansas City 1 - 1 Houston Dash
Boston Breakers 1 - 2 Chicago Red Stars
Portland Thorns FC 0 - 1 Seattle Reign FC
Washington Spirit 1 - 1 Chicago Red Stars
Western NY Flash 0 - 1 Houston Dash
Sky Blue FC 3 - 1 Boston Breakers
Seattle Reign FC 3 - 0 Portland Thorns FC