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The Kronick Report: Rapinoe headlines Week 14 goal-action

Week 14 of NWSL play was both thrilling and wild! Let’s dive deeper into Rapinoe’s game-winner, Press’ breakaway finish, and Sam Kerr’s header.

Megan Rapinoe had quite the night in Week 14 of NWSL action scoring three goals in Seattle's 5-4 win over Sky Blue FC. (Photo: Seattle Reign FC)

Megan Rapinoe had quite the night in Week 14 of NWSL action scoring three goals in Seattle’s 5-4 win over Sky Blue FC.
(Photo: Seattle Reign FC)

Rapinoe-Johnson combo cap off five-goal night for the Seattle Reign

What Happened: In the 87th minute, Megan Rapinoe scored her third goal of the night and the fifth goal for the Reign to defeat Sky Blue FC in a thrilling 5-4 back and forth match in Seattle.

How It Happened: With four minutes left to go in regulation time and a game tied 4-4, USWNT and Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe and rookie Katie Johnson executed a great back and forth passing sequence that lead to the game winning goal. A long ball out of the back is played up field intended for Johnson. Before Johnson even gets the ball, she already knows where Rapinoe is, square to her left. With one touch out of the air, Johnson is able to settle the ball and get it to Rapinoe’s feet with a defender right on her back, now about 35 yards from goal. The second Johnson plays the ball to Rapinoe, she starts to make a run forward alongside Rapinoe who’s now taken a few touches to start driving into the box. Johnson’s run forward is parallel to Rapinoe, but she lags a bit and strategically keeps herself in between the two Sky Blue defenders who are now forced to track back because of Rapinoe’s movement. Rapinoe sees Johnson to her right and plays her a ball that splits two of the defenders, now right outside the 18 yard box. By playing the ball to Johnson, Rapinoe is able to free herself up which is key here. As she was dribbling forward before, three defenders started to close in on her. Once she played the ball to Johnson, almost all three of them shifted their focus and their positioning towards Johnson. Johnson notices that, and plays a square ball right back to Rapinoe who’s now unmarked at the top of the box. Johnson’s ball beat all three of those defenders who were trying to close her down instead. From here, the rest is pure Megan Rapinoe brilliance. A bit inside the box, Rapinoe hits the ball from Johnson first time with her left foot right into the top right corner past an outstretched Kailen Sheridan. Rapinoe scores a great goal and caps off an unbelievable 90 minute performance.

87′ WHAT. A. GAME. @mPinoe with the hat trick and the @ReignFC is back on top! #SEAvNJ 5-4 pic.twitter.com/Mjm5Q9iheT

— NWSL (@NWSL) July 23, 2017

Christen Press leads Chicago to first place in the NWSL standings after Week 14

 Christen Press' brace led the Red Stars to a 2-1 win over Orlando in Week 14 (Photo copyright Lewis Gettier)

Christen Press’ brace led the Red Stars to a 2-1 win over Orlando in Week 14 (Photo copyright Lewis Gettier)

What Happened: In the 29th minute, Christen Press scored her first of two on the day to give the Chicago Red Stars a 2-1 victory over the Orlando Pride and secure first place in the NWSL standings for the first time this season.

How It Happened: The attacking part of this play starts off with a beautiful ball in from Sofia Huerta. Huerta, who’s almost at the half way line, picks her head up and notices the positioning of Christen Press. Press does two really great things in the lead up to this goal, and the first one is her positioning here — she’s sitting on the shoulder of Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger. That is so important because it’s exactly what Huerta notices before she decides to play the long ball in to Press. It’s something that Press is so good at as an attacking player. She’s always on the shoulder of the last defender, looking for that ball through. And that’s exactly what Huerta gives her. She lofts one to Press a little outside the box who’s making a run on Krieger. Huerta’s ball is placed perfectly and hit just right so that Press is able to receive it out of the air, with Krieger beat for that split second. The next thing that Press does is instrumental in creating her scoring chance. Three words: that first touch. She settles the ball out of the air and not only keeps it under control, but pushes it ahead of her in a way that she’s able to completely cut off Krieger, who was trying to recover. If her first touch had been straight ahead of her, there would’ve been a high chance that Krieger’s recovery would’ve allowed her to close down. By pushing her first touch out diagonally in front of her and cutting off Krieger, Press ensures she’s going in on goal in a 1v1 scenario with the keeper. Then, Press does what Press does best. She takes another touch past the keeper and finishes into an empty net.

Kerr header momentarily ties it up for Sky Blue FC

 Kerr scores her 11th on the season with a header against Seattle on Saturday night (photo copyright Katie Cahalin for The Equalizer)

Kerr scores her 11th on the season with a header against Seattle on Saturday night (photo copyright Katie Cahalin for The Equalizer)

What Happened: Sam Kerr scored a goal in the 75th minute to tie it up 4-4 but. Rapinoe’s 87th minute rocket stole the game for the Reign.

How It Happened: The first thing I have to say here is: what a ball from Daphne Corboz. Sky Blue midfielder Daphne Corboz launches a ball into the box from 30 yards out that perfectly finds the head of Sam Kerr. Corboz, who has time and space, recognizes where she is on the pitch as well as where Kerr is before she plays her ball in. Kerr was, like Press was above, sitting on the shoulder of the last defenders inside the box. Corboz recognizes that and launches a beautiful cross in the box, with the intention of finding Kerr. In typical Sam Kerr fashion, she leaps off the shoulder of that last Seattle Reign defender and meets the ball in the air and redirects the ball on goal with her head. Her technique on this header is great. She gets up, redirects the ball with a strong touch and places it to Haley Kopmeyer’s right with force from just inside the six yard box. Kopmeyer gets a hand on it but it’s not enough to keep Kerr’s ball out of the back of the net.

To cap off this week’s Kronick Report, I will leave this stunning Rapinoe free kick right here for your viewing pleasure…

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