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NWSL Week 9 Preview — big match at the Plex

In case you missed the memo, the World Cup starts on Saturday. There are also four NWSL matches that while poorly placed in the women’s soccer calendar, could nevertheless play key rolls in which teams are around come playoff time. They are the final four league matches until June 19.

Saturday

Boston Breakers (3-3-1) at Washington Spirit (4-3-1)
7:00 pm EDT, Maryland SoccerPlex
Watch: Youtube
Series: Breakers lead, 3-1-3

Points of Interest: The Breakers are rolling of late and will be trying to transfer recent form to the road where they have lost all three matches by an aggregate 10-2 score. If they win, they will go to the short World Cup break in second place. If the Spirit win they have a chance to break at the top depending on what the Red Stars do. Last time the teams played was a chippy, 3-3 draw last July that saw Maddy Evans sent off and Ashlyn Harris give the referee a small shove. Harris is at the World Cup and Evans is unlikely to start, but the uneasiness could carry over nonetheless.

Chicago Red Stars (4-0-3) at Western New York Flash (2-3-1)
7:00 pm EDT, Sahlen’s Stadium
Watch: Youtube
Series: tied, 2-2-2

Points of Interest: An interesting contrast of styles here with the counterattacking Red Stars paying a visit to the speedy Flash. The Flash prevailed last match despite playing without both contracted goalkeepers. For this one, Chantel Jones returns from a suspension and Sabrina D’Angelo is doubtful in her recovery from a shoulder separation. The Red Stars meanwhile haven’t missed a beat since rookie Michele Dalton stepped in for Karina LeBlanc.

Portland Thorns FC (2-3-2) at Houston Dash (2-2-3)
8:30 pm EDT, BBVA Compass Stadium
Watch: Youtube
Series: Thorns lead, 3-1-0

Points of Interest: They played two weeks ago in Portland and the Thorns dominated every statistical category except the one that matters—goals. The Dash’s 1-0 win was their first over the Thorns and set the stage for their return home in 5th place with a chance to leapfrog idle Kansas City into a playoff position ahead of the break. The Thorns have lost three straight and are winless in five. Both teams are missing many key players to the World Cup.

Sky Blue FC (1-3-4) at Seattle Reign FC (2-2-2)
10:00 pm EDT, Memorial Stadium
Watch: Youtube
Series: tied, 2-2-2

Points of Interest: Neither team is where it wants to be. The Shield holders are a half step off where they were a year ago while Sky Blue are closing in on desperation status having gone seven matches without a win. Sky Blue have still not scored twice in the same game and worse still, Nadia Nadim looks frustrated and has seen her work rate tail off. By all rights the Reign were the better team last month in New Jersey but a late handball gave Sky Blue a penalty and stoppage time equalizer.

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