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NWSL Week 19 Preview — points at a premium

Alex Morgan Portland Thorns

This weekend will go a long way toward determining if the last two weeks will be a mad scramble or not. In one scenario, the Red Stars can clinch this weekend, Kansas City can go to the brink, and the Flash, Dash, and Sky Blue can all be eliminated. However it is also feasible for all of those teams to make it to next week alive. Here are the match-ups:


Portland Thorns FC (6-7-4) at Sky Blue FC (4-7-6)
7:00 pm EDT, Yurcak Field
Watch: Youtube
Series: Sky Blue lead, 4-2-2

Points of Interest: The rubber match of the season series will be played out in front of the largest crowd of the season at Yurcak Field. Both teams sit outside the top four needing points and help to reach the playoffs. Things are especially desperate for Sky Blue who are eliminated with anything but a win and even that won’t be enough to last the day of Kansas City wins. The Thorns are three points behind Kansas City against whom they will lose a tiebreakers. But they win a tiebreaker against the Red Stars and have a chance against the Spirit who they host next weekend. Either way, anything less than three points at a place they have never won will do major damage to playoff hopes. Alex Morgan played for the United States on Wednesday so she figures to be available in some capacity for the first time since leaving for the World Cup. She is listed probable on the injury report. The Thorns will be without Emily Menges who has bilateral lower extremity stress fractures. Sky Blue could have Maya Hayes back.

Boston Breakers (4-10-3) at FC Kansas City (7-6-4)
8:00 pm EDT, Swope Soccer Village
Watch: Youtube
Series: Kansas City lead, 6-2-0

Points of Interest: It has been an up and down season for Kansas City but they exit one of their biggest ups, a 3-0 smashing of the Thorns that gave them control of fourth place on the table. Lauren Holiday did not play in that match, but she went 90 for the United States on Wednesday indicating she is healthy. Interestingly the Blues have not played as well with Holiday in the lineup this season. She is listed as probable. KC could also be close to getting Shead Groom back from her broken foot. The rookie is listed as questionable for the first time since the injury. The Breakers also come to the match on a rare high note having defeated the Spirit to wrap up their home season. Despite that they are officially eliminated so Tom Durkin may well mix things up a bit for the last three games, all on the road. The Breakers did edge FC Kansas City, 1-0 back in May. An FC Kansas City win eliminates the Dash.


Western New York Flash (5-8-4) at Chicago Red Stars (7-3-7)
5:00 pm EDT, Benedictine University Sports Complex
Watch: Youtube
Series: Flash lead, 3-2-2

Points of Interest: On the surface it seems like all is well with the Red Stars. But they have not won a match in a month and are heading in the wrong direction at the wrong time. And prior to their current five-match winless streak their only loss had been to the Flash, who they play again in Western New York next Saturday. If they can cut down on the defensive mistakes and finish a chance or two, they should get points off the Flash and be in the playoffs. But if they continue to struggle things could get dicey heading to the season finale against the Dash. That said if the Thorns do not win Saturday, the Red Stars will be in the playoffs with a win in this one. The Flash, who have suffered from a letdown in midfield play in recent weeks, need wins and help. If Kansas City wins on Saturday the Flash are eliminated with a loss or draw. A Kansas City draw and a Flash loss does the same.


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