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Week 9 Preview: Will Crystal Dunn finally score?

Cyrstal Dunn has yet to score this season in defense of her Golden Boot (Photo copyright Meg Linehan for The Equalizer.)

Cyrstal Dunn has yet to score this season in defense of her Golden Boot (Photo copyright Meg Linehan for The Equalizer.)

The Spirit have sold out the SoccerPlex and are planning a tribute to the victims of last week’s night club shooting in Orlando before taking on the Pride for the first time ever. Once the game begins the burning question will be whether or not Crystal Dunn can find the back of the net for the first time this season. Elsewhere Paul Riley will face the Thorns for the first time on Friday night and the Reign are at Sky Blue on Sunday where they will look to flip the results of their season-opening upset that ended their home unbeaten streak.


Portland Thorns FC (3-0-5) at Western New York Flash (5-3-0)
7pm EDT, Rhino’s Stadium
All-Time Series: Thorns lead, 3-2-3 (plus Thorns, 1-0-0 in playoffs)
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What to watch for: Paul Riley has the Flash fraternizing with the top of the table and he will get his first crack against the team that sacked him after missing the playoffs last season. Mark Parsons has yet to lose as Riley’s replacement but a handful of draws has them a point behind Riley’s side, making these three key points for both. A franchise record (NWSL era) fourth straight win will likely depend on the Flash’s ability to contain Tobin Heath who has been the engine that just about every attacking sequence has run through this season. The Thorns could also feature Amandine Henry for the first time after her recent arrival from France.


Orlando Pride (4-4-0) at Washington Spirit (4-1-2)
7:00 pm EDT, Maryland SoccerPlex
All-Time Series: first meeting
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What to watch for: The Spirit are suddenly searching a bit having been blasted by the Thorns followed by a rainout and scheduled off week and then a disappointing draw in Boston. Second year center back Megan Oyster has struggled in both matches, but the real question in Washington is whether Crystal Dunn will get off the duck and score a goal. The defending golden boot winner has only four shots on goal, playing mostly on the left side rather than center and spending way too much time taking on defenders instead of using her exquisite first touch and teammates. Will Jim Gabarra move her back to center forward? The Pride have been up and down as might be expected from an expansion side but their defense has been rock solid throughout.

Boston Breakers (1-6-1) at Chicago Red Stars (4-1-3)
8:00 pm EDT, Toyota Park
All-Time Series: Red Stars lead, 7-1-1
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What to watch for: The first place Red Stars will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak to eight against the last place Breakers, who despite a win and draw out of their last three matches, have still yet to score a goal in the run of play all season. The Red Stars won’t make that streak easy to bust as they will bring a top-notch defense to Boston with them anchored by May’s Players of the Month and former Breakers fan favorite Alyssa Naeher in goal. It’s not all rosy for the Red Stars though who are still looking to iron out some chemistry issues farther up the pitch. The Breakers took it to the Red Stars pretty good in their meeting last month in Boston but could not manage to find a goal in a 1-0 loss.


Seattle Reign FC (3-3-2) at Sky Blue FC (2-3-3)
6:00 pm EDT, Yurcak Field
All-Time Series: tied, 3-3-3
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What to watch for: Sky Blue’s opening weekend win in Seattle was one of the most surprising singular results in NWSL history and it ended the Reign’s two-year, 22-game unbeaten streak at Memorial Stadium. Now the Reign will be looking to return the favor although the two-time defending Shield winners have still yet to look like the team of the last two years. Sky Blue have two draws since their hellacious, 5-2 loss in Western New York last month. They also have rookie Lea Galton and a healthy Sam Kerr at their disposal. Neither has played more than 45 minutes at a clip but the pair, not present for the Memorial match, add to Christy Holly’s attacking options.

FC Kansas City (1-4-3) at Houston Dash (2-4-1)
8:30 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium
All-Time Series: Kansas City lead, 3-2-2
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What to watch for: It is getting late early for both teams, but the focus here should be squarely on the dash. After a dynamic, season-opening win over the Red Stars, the Dash have fallen into an offensive abyss with only three goals from six games since. The Dash are now missing Carli Lloyd (knee) and Rachel Daly (visa) but their current streak of three consecutive matches without a goal is still rather astonishing. The silver lining is that their last two goals were May 7 in Kansas City which was also their only win since the opener. The Blues are playing better though, particularly the combination of Shea Groom and Erika Tymrak.

note: streams are subject to change up to the last minute; please consult for the most up-to-date information


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