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NWSL Week 15 preview: Lloyd returns to WNY

Last week, record attendances. This week, the flames of a rivalry stoked. Carli Lloyd tore into the Western New York Flash organization for the manner in which they traded her to the Houston Dash last November. This came ahead of her first trip back to Sahlen’s Stadium since the deal. Here’s a look at Week 15.


Houston Dash (3-4-5) at Western New York Flash (4-5-3)
7:00 pm EDT, Sahlen’s Stadium
Watch: Youtube
Series: Dash lead, 3-1-0

Points of Interest: Lloyd’s return to Western New York just got a lot more interesting. Not that it needed it. These are the top two chasers to the playoff positions looking to close the gap on idle FC Kansas City. The midfield battle could be sensational with Lloyd and Morgan Brian going up against Becky Edwards—one of the players traded for Lloyd—and rookie Samantha Mewis. The Flash are also trying to sort out their back line. Abby Dahlkemper slid to right back last week and the results were less than shining in a 3-3 draw against Sky Blue after the Flash led 3-1 early in the second half.

Boston Breakers (3-7-3) at Sky Blue FC (2-6-5)
7:00 pm EDT, Yurcak Field
Watch: Youtube
Series: Sky Blue lead, 3-2-3

Points of Interest: The two bottom teams on the table have to be feeling like it’s win or bust with only seven games remaining for each. Sky Blue recently broke two dubious skids—first a 10-game winless streak and next a streak of a dozen games (14 including 2014) without scoring more than one goal. And with Kelley O’Hara presumably spending the entire match in an attacking role they could suddenly be too much for the Breakers to handle. In particular the Caitlin Foord-Samantha Kerr combination on the right side will be a tough matchup for Breakers left back Mollie Pathman. The Breakers are also on the road for what will be their third match in eight days. Sky Blue won’t have Lindsi Cutshall (concussion) available for the first time this season. Will Kristin Grubka regain her starting spot or will it be Hayley Haagsma who dropped back to play next to Christie Rampone after Cutshall came out last weekend?

Chicago Red Stars (7-1-4) at Washington Spirit (6-4-2)
7:00 pm EDT, Maryland SoccerPlex
Watch: Youtube
Series: Spirit lead, 4-2-0

Points of Interest: The Spirit took all three points off the Red Stars in 2014, some of them in dramatic fashion. And the full allotment of points made the difference in the Spirit reaching the playoffs while the Red Stars sat them out. This time around the Red Stars are in 1st place while the Spirit are in a strong position in 3rd. The Spirit should have World Cup champions Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger back in the fold while Red Stars’ defender Abby Erceg has been upgraded to probable and could partner Julie Johnston in central defense. The match also features two of the most dynamic goal scorers in the league. Crystal Dunn leads the loop with eight while Christen Press has five in only four games. Two of Press’s have been match winners in the 89th minute or stoppage time.


Portland Thorns FC (3-5-4) at Seattle Reign FC (7-3-3)
7:00 pm EDT, Memorial Stadium
Watch: Youtube
Series: Thorns lead, 5-3-0

Points of Interest: The Pacific Northwest Derby has been squashed into a five-day period meaning the Reign and Thorns will not see each other again in 2015 barring a playoff meeting. And if that is going to happen the Thorns need to begin making their move. The team was not pleased with Wednesday’s 1-0 loss in front of a league record crowd at Providence Park. That leaves the Thorns 1-5-4 since their 2-0-0 start to the campaign. All they have to do to start turning things around here is to be the first team ever to beat the Reign at Memorial Stadium. Wednesday was the first time Clare Pokinghorne ever played for the Thorns and it was Steph Catley’s season debut. Tobin Heath and Christine Sinclair rejoined the side after lengthy World Cup absences. So there figures to be room for improvement. Don’t let the head-to-head fool you though. The Thorns won all four matches in 2013 but the Reign are 3-1-0 since reshaping the squad for 2014.


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