Phase two of the 2015 NWSL season is officially underway with the United States and Canadian World Cup players out of action through the end of the tournament. Which teams will emerge unscathed from the next two month? It begins Friday night.
FC Kansas City (2-2-0) at Western New York Flash (1-2-0)
7:00 p.m. EDT, Sahlen’s Stadium
Series: Flash lead, 2-1-2
Points of Interest: FC Kansas City pulled themselves out of an 0-2 start with consecutive shutouts over Seattle and Houston. The Flash will be trying to do the same having started by defeating the Breakers 3-1 in last weekend’s home opener. The Flash are young, quick, and improving but they will have to deal with the loss of center back Whitney Engen to the United States World Cup team. Last time they went without their preferred pairing in back they conceded five goals in Seattle. They could also be without Abby Dahlkemper, who is questionable with a sprained left ankle, while FCKC defender Amy LePeilbet is probably with knee tendinitis.
Boston Breakers (1-2-0) at Chicago Red Stars (2-0-1)
5:00 p.m. EDT, Toyota Park
Series: Red Stars lead, 4-1-0
Points of Interest: The final leg of the Red Stars’ season-opening stretch of four home matches ends at Toyota Park as part of a doubleheader with the Chicago Fire. The Red Stars have done their part so far, taking seven of a possible nine points. This one will feature a battle between inexperienced backup keepers. Jami Kranich gets the nod for the Breakers and Michelle Dalton will start for the Red Stars. It will be the professional debut for both. The Breakers have already let nine slip by World Cup keeper Alyssa Naeher.
Seattle Reign FC (2-2-0) at Sky Blue FC (1-2-1)
7:00 p.m. EDT, Yurcak Field
Series: tied, 2-2-1
Points of Interest: Sky Blue’s offense has hit the skids. They have yet to score twice in a match this season and are struggling to get the ball to Nadia Nadim. The Reign did not lose a midfielder or defender to the World Cup and will be looking to keep Sky Blue’s attack at bay and pick up their first road points of the season. Dating to last July 12, the Reign are 1-4-1 outside Seattle.
Washington Spirit (2-2-0) at Portland Thorns FC (2-0-1)
10:00 p.m. EDT, Providence Park
Series: Thorns lead, 4-0-1
Points of Interest: The Thorns exit a bye week during which they had time to work on how things will look without their array of World Cup absentees. The Spirit will be the second club this season to play back-to-back weekends in the Pacific Northwest. The Flash were swept, a fate the Spirit will be hoping to avoid in a place they have lost both previous matches. The Thorns have played a 3-6-1 so far this season, a formation which could be risky against the Spirit’s group of aggressive forwards.
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