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NWSL mid-Week 6 preview: Reign back home for FCKC test

Hope Solo has four shutouts in six matches--all wins--for the Reign this season. (Photo: Liviu Bird/The Equalizer)

Portland Thorns FC (2-1-2) at Houston Dash (1-4-0)
BBVA Compass Stadium
Wednesday, 8 pm EDT
Series: Thorns lead, 1-0-0

The second meeting of the two MLS-backed sides in NWSL is also the first midweek home match for the Dash. The Thorns stole three points in the opener but enter this one licking their wounds a bit after losing a tough one at home to the Reign. The Dash are still trying to find themselves, a task made more difficult by their assorted injuries. Both of their keepers were listed on the midweek injury report though both are expected to be available. The Dash also get Osinachi Ohale back from her red card suspension.

What to watch for: Christine Sinclair was a non-factor in the attack the first time the teams met, and it would be in the Thorns’ best interest to get her going since their six goals have been scored by two players—Allie Long and Jess McDonald. That McDonald has been more dangerous should help get Sinclair a little more space. The Dash should be able to move Kaylyn Kyle back to midfield to see if she can work well with Becky Edwards, the key to keeping opposing forwards from getting good looks.

FC Kansas City (3-3-1) at Seattle Reign FC (6-0-0)
Memorial Stadium
Wednesday, 10 pm EDT
Series: Kansas City lead, 4-0-0

The Reign return home still perfect after three tough road wins, none more impressive than the 1-0 win in Portland on Kim Little’s 90th minute goal. FC Kansas City bossed them last season, but the new Reign are off to a fabulous start. They are still without Megan Rapinoe for this one and probably Stephanie Cox as well. For Kansas City, Erika Tymrak and her balky back are listed as probable, but Morgan Marlborough has been ruled out. The Blues have won three of four after the 0-2-1 start.

What to watch for: If Seattle has a mirror image it is FC Kansas City. The difference in the match could be the effectiveness of deep players making attacking runs. Jen Buczkowski and Jenna Richmond have been gradually taking more space for the Blues and Jessica Fishlock and Keelin Winters will pick their spots to make runs for the Reign. If Cox is out, look for Kansas City to try and generate the majority of their attacks down their right side.

Chicago Red Stars (2-2-1) at Boston Breakers (1-3-0)
Harvard Stadium
Thursday, 7 pm EDT
Series: tied, 1-1-0

Another NWSL scheduling quirk will see the Red Stars stay in Boston through Sunday when they play the Breakers for the second time in four days. The teams could not have played more different games to this point. The Breakers have already split a pair of 3-2 games while all five Red Stars games have combined to net six goals—never more than one in a game for them or the opponent.

What to watch for: The interesting thing about this matchup is that both teams are quick up top but not as much in the back. So which team will be able to take advantage? The Red Stars do a lot over the top and are aided by Julie Johnston’s ultra-aggressive center back play. The Breakers, who will have Kristie Mewis and Nikki Washington available for the first time this season, will look to play things wider and try to stretch their opponent out.

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