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NWSL Week 3 preview: Wambach out, Chapman available

Candace Chapman is expected to be available for the Spirit for the first time on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Patricia Giobetti | http://www.printroom.com/pro/psgiobetti)

Following a week in which only half the league was on the field, the NWSL season gets into full swing with all eight teams in action this weekend.  Things get started Friday night in Kansas City with the other three games Saturday.  The Flash play their home opener Saturday night against the Breakers, but will do so without Abby Wambach.

Here is a closer look:

Seattle Reign FC (0-1-1) at FC Kansas City (0-0-1)
Friday, 8:35 pm EDT
Shawnee District North Stadium
Series:  First meeting

Quick Look:  Seems like the Blues haven’t played a match in quite awhile after they hosted the league opener and then got cancelled out by the Breakers’ travel issues last Friday.  Now they’ll take a shot at the first Friday night NWSL match.  It is a time slot that has worked well for Sporting Kansas City.  For the Reign it is the last of three straight away matches to open their history.

Tactical Short:  The Reign have been woefully inept at creating sustained possession in the attacking third and that task will get no easier against KC’s defensive midfield duo of Desiree Scott and Jen Buczkowski plus a very good back line.

 

Sky Blue FC (1-0-0) at Washington Spirit (0-0-2)
Saturday, 7pm EDT
Maryland SoccerPlex
Series:  First meeting

Quick Look:  The Spirit have been nothing if not exciting in their first two matches.  Three of the four goals scored (two for and two against) have been in the 85th minute or later and Ashlyn Harris is making an early bid to be recognized as the league’s top goalkeeper.  The match represents a homecoming of sorts for Sky Blue FC coach Jim Gabarra, who coached the Washington Freedom for 10 years across three leagues, playing many home matches at the SoccerPlex.

Tactical Short:  Look for Kelley O’Hara to make every effort to insert herself into the attack out of the left back spot for Sky Blue.  It will be up to the Spirit’s right-sided players to thwart that tactic.  Candace Chapman, on the mend from a knee injury, is expected to dress for the Spirit.

Boston Breakers (0-0-1) at Western New York Flash (0-1-1)
Saturday, 7:35 pm EDT
Sahlen’s Stadium
Series:  First NWSL Meeting (Flash led 3-0-1 in WPS)

Quick Look:  The Breakers return to the field after being forced to abandon their trip to Kansas City last weekend.  As for the Flash their home opener will be dampened some after Abby Wambach was ruled out of the match for precautionary reasons thanks to a ball inadvertently hitting her in the face last weekend in Washington.

Tactical Short:  With Wambach out the offensive focus for the Flash will shift to Adriana whose notable moment early in the season is having her penalty saved by Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Brittany Cameron in Week 1.  The Flash do not have much forward depth so they could line up Adriana alone up top or possibly mix a young player like Vicki DiMartino into the mix.

Portland Thorns FC (1-0-1) at Chicago Red Stars (0-0-1)
Saturday, 8 pm EDT
Benedictine University Sports Complex
Series:  First Meeting

Quick Look:  The Thorns looked much more free and easy in their second game, against the Reign, than they did in their opener and now the Red Stars will be hoping for the same after a scheduled week off.  It will be interesting to see how the game fares at the gate with decent weather expected and the highest profile team in the league paying a visit.  No one could have been too pleased with 1,255 for the opener outside Chicago.

Tactical Short:  Shannon Boxx should be rested and ready for 90 minutes after being used as a sub on opening day when she was practically straight off the plane from Europe.  Can she and Leslie Osborne prevent the Thorns midfield from getting quality service to the forwards the way FC Kansas City did two weeks ago?

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