Every time the Thorns meet FC Kansas City, something interesting happens. Wednesday, someone will emerge with the coveted fourth position on the table.
Sky Blue FC (4-7-5) at Chicago Red Stars (7-2-6)
2:00 pm EDT, Benedictine University Sports Complex
Series: Red Stars lead, 3-0-4
Points of Interest: Reshaped Sky Blue are clinging to playoff hopes and head to face a team they have never defeated. They do have the edge on rest having last played Friday while the Red Stars were in action Sunday night in Portland where they took only their second loss of the season. An area to watch will be the Red Stars’ left flank where Arin Gilliland likes to spend lots of time in high positions. The Thorns did a nice job of pinning her back, and Sky Blue’s right of Caitlin Foord and Samantha Kerr is as good as any in the league. The Red Stars’ attack is much better if Gilliland can be part of it. It will also be interesting to see how the Red Stars utilize their forwards and how the Christen Press-Sofia Huerta will evolve this week. Huerta though has a right quad contusion and is listed as probable on the injury report. Abby Erceg is also questionable with a sprained ankle.
Western New York Flash (5-8-3) at Washington Spirit (7-5-3)
7:00 pm EDT, Maryland SoccerPlex
Series: Flash lead, 5-2-1
Points of Interest: Two teams that can score but are also susceptible to defensive breakdowns square off with one trying to solidify a playoff position and the other trying to get there. The Spirit were left to rue a brief lull that cost them in a 2-1 loss in Boston over the weekend. Crystal Dunn did not score but was her usual dynamic self, and the Flash will be looking to slow her down. The Spirit gave partial rests to Christine Nairn and Whitney Church on Saturday, moves that could reap benefits in this one.
Portland Thorns FC (6-6-4) at FC Kansas City (6-6-4)
8:00 pm EDT, Swope Soccer Village
Series: tied, 3-3-2 (plus 1-1-0 in playoffs)
Points of Interest: NWSL matches do not get much better than this. Two teams with equal records split for the final playoff spot on goal difference. They are also teams with a good bit of history over their three seasons playing each other. Most recently the Thorns stole a draw in stoppage time when Michelle Betos snuck all the way into the FC Kansas City goal box to get on the end of a corner kick to create a 1-1 draw. Lauren Holiday is likely out again for the Blues so they will need to lean on others to help win the midfield. Look for some good battles between Leigh Ann Robinson and Tobin Heath who has been roaming but spending more time on the left than anywhere else. That could be the matchup that determines the match.
Houston Dash (5-6-5) at Seattle Reign FC (9-3-3)
10:00 pm EDT, Memorial Stadium
Series: Reign lead, 3-0-0
Points of Interest: The Dash have played themselves into a bit of a pickle. After reaching fourth place they were eaten up by Crystal Dunn and then outplayed by Sky Blue. Now they are two points behind two teams that play each other Wednesday and face two straight against a Reign team that dominated them in 2014. And the Reign are back to being NWSL’s best team and still have never lost at Memorial Stadium. The Dash will be banking on their glut of newcomers—notably Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian—to turn the tables against the Shield holders. Reign goalkeepers Hope Solo and Haley Kopmeyer have both been upgraded to questionable so either could start.
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