June will conclude with the Breakers and Red Stars trying to close the gap on the playoffs and the Thorns and Sky Blue attempting to pull away with the top two seeds. All eight teams play over the weekend. Here is a closer look at the remaining Week 12 action in NWSL:
FRIDAY FINAL: WNY Flash 4-0 Washington Spirit
Summary: Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick inside 55 minutes and Abby Wambach had three assists as Western New York routed Washington. Read the full match report.
Chicago Red Stars (3-5-3) at Seattle Reign FC (1-9-2)
Saturday, 11 pm EDT
Series: tied, 0-0-1
Quick Look: The Reign return home from a road trip that could have buried them but ultimately saw them first snap a nine-game losing streak and then collect their first win of the season. They’ll get Kiersten Dallstream back after missing the victory through red card suspension. And Megan Rapinoe will make her first appearance as a Reign at Starfire. The Red Stars will get there well rested having been off since outplaying the Flash and conceding a late equalizer 10 days prior.
Tactical Short: Rapinoe has made an instant impact on the Reign’s left side and her presence appears to have re-energized her hair-twin, Jess Fishlock. The strength of the Red Stars is up the middle. Someone in a Reign shirt will have to contain Lori Chalupny. The Reign will be looking to do so without taking Fishlock too deep into midfield and costing her time and effort in the attacking third.
Portland Thorns FC (8-2-2) at FC Kansas City (6-4-2)
Sunday, 4:10 pm EDT
Verizon Wireless Field
Series: Thorns lead, 1-0-1
Quick Look: Their last meeting led to a combined 7 goals scored in a variety of ways from a defender slipping to a penalty kick. The Thorns are a point off the pace at the top but have now conceded the fewest points in NWSL. The Blues are 6 points off the Thorns for 2nd place and a home playoff date. A loss will not only drop them farther back but give the Thorns the season-ending tiebreaker. Tiffany Cameron will be available for Kansas City after being signed during the week. The Thorns should have Marian Dougherty back after missing the weekend match to attend her sister’s wedding.
Tactical Short: Following a scoreless draw away to Sky Blue, Alex Morgan said she felt alone up top and that the team was not attack minded enough. We’ll see if coach Cindy Parlow Cone heard Morgan and if she reacts by moving Christine Sinclair closer to goal where she and Morgan can combine in the attacking third. The Thorns could also mimick what Sky Blue did late in their match against FCKC by trying to go over, instead of around, Desiree Scott.
Sky Blue FC (8-2-3) at Boston Breakers (3-5-3)
Sunday, 6:30 pm EDT
Series: Sky Blue lead, 2-0-0
Quick Look: In two meetings this season Sky Blue has put eight goals on the Breakers. Lisa Cole acknowledged that Sky Blue has embarrassed her team at times during those matches. Both of those matches came when the U.S. national team players were unavailable. They’re back for this one which swings the edge to the Breakers who will have Heather O’Reilly and Sydney Leroux while Sky Blue has not yet used Jill Loyden and Kelley O’Hara is questionable with her sprained right ankle. Both teams are also down Australians—Caitlin Foord and Lisa De Vanna for Sky Blue and Kyah Simon for the Breakers.
Tactical Short: Wednesday, Sky Blue elected to keep their most recent midfield alignment and stick Sophie Schmidt up top in place of De Vanna. The drawback was that the forwards spent too much time playing deeper in the midfield. Now they face the possibility of being without O’Hara and will also need a right back to fill in for Foord. Meanwhile the Breakers—winless in June—are looking for defensive stability, a hot topic after they coughed up a late lead and lost to Seattle on Wednesday.
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