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The Kronick Report: Kawasumi changes game late with classy finish

NWSL Week 17 was one for the books: filled with exciting mid-week and weekend game action, historic record-breaking performances, and LOTS of goals. Let’s check out some of the best that Week 17 had to offer.

Nahomi Kawasumi leveled the score in the 90th minute, paving the way for Katie Johnson’s 92nd-minute game winner. (photo by Lewis Gettier)

Kawasumi changes the game late with classy finish

What Happened: Naho Kawasumi tied it up at 1-1 in the 90th minute in mid-week  NWSL action as Seattle catapulted a come-from-behind victory in the last two minutes. A later finish by Katie Johnson in the 92nd minute gave the visitors the 2-1 win over the Chicago Red Stars.

How It Happened: After a messy Chicago clearance, Seattle Reign midfielder Rumi Utsugi finds herself with the ball at her feet almost 30 yards out from goal when she recognizes a major hole in the Red Stars back line and takes advantage of it flawlessly. She sees Naho Kawasumi on the left side of the pitch in a one-v-one scenario and executes a perfect through ball that not only finds Kawasumi past her defender, but also splits the second defender that was coming over to help. Utsugi’s perfectly weighted ball finds Kawasumi on the run, now inside the box with only one defender between her and the goal. Kawasumi recognizes that her angle could be better and instead of getting a shot off early at a difficult angle, she sets herself up for success in the best way possible. Kawasumi takes a touch to settle on the corner of the six yard box and begins to cut inside. By doing that, she quite literally makes her defender trip over her own feet and finds herself in a position six yards in front of goal in the perfect spot to let one loose. Then, she does just that and buries one into the back of the net.

Utsugi’s through ball to start off this play was instrumental as it put Kawasumi in such a great position moving forward. Kawasumi, who very easily could have tried to take a shot from a poor angle, was calm and collected, allowing her to take a touch to cut inside. By cutting inside, she freed herself up perfectly, giving her another moment to set up the perfect shot, which she really hit home and into the back of the net. The 90th-minute goal from the Japanese international spurred a comeback for the Reign, who ended up taking the game 2-1 through regulation time.

Four shots on target, four goals: Sam Kerr, everyone

Sam Kerr as she was most of Saturday night, surrounded by Reign defenders. They didn’t stop her from scoring 4 times. (photo copyright EriMacPhoto for The Equalizer)

What Happened: In a night where Sam Kerr once again solidified the magic that is her scoring ability, she led Sky Blue FC to a 5-4 win after being behind 3-0 to the Seattle Reign. Kerr, who made NWSL history by being the first player to score four goals in one game, scored her third of the night in the 71st minute to tie the game up 3-3. Her eventual 92nd minute winner gave the three points to the New Jersey side.

How It Happened: Sam Kerr is a special player. There’s so much to say about this 23-year-old Australian phenom who, for more than a few times this season, has put Sky Blue FC on her back and carried them to come-from-behind victories. In the 70th minute, it’s hard to imagine that when Kerr gets a ball to her chest 60 yards from goal, that in a few short seconds, she will have scored her third on the night. Kerr settles a long ball out of the air from Sarah Killion with her chest on the turn with a defender at her back and one in front of her. She’s able to control it and settle the ball at her feet, and immediately she’s on the move, driving at three Seattle defenders. Kerr makes a close to 40-yard run towards the center of the pitch. Her speed and ability to take it right at Seattle’s back line means that those defenders, all three of them, have no choice but to continue to back pedal and keep Kerr in front of them to avoid getting beat. But, unfortunately for Seattle, Sam Kerr takes advantage of the fact that she had her defenders on their heels and capitalized on a tiny bit of space to set up a shot from outside the 18-yard box. Kerr tucks her ball perfectly inside the right post to level the game.

Morgan chip gives her brace over Boston

Alex Morgan scored twice against Boston in the Pride 2-1 victory this past weekend.
(photo by Mark Thor, courtesy of Orlando Pride)

What Happened: In the 73rd minute, Alex Morgan scored her second goal of the afternoon as the Orlando Pride beat the Boston Breakers by a score of 2-1.

How It Happened: From a set piece, Ali Krieger sent a lofted ball in the air that found Morgan’s chest. Krieger’s ball was key here, as she picked out Morgan perfectly. Morgan makes her run once the ball is picked to ensure she stays onside and meets Krieger’s ball with her chest as her first touch. Her run ends up getting her in behind the Boston backline, too. With a controlled touch off her chest, she aims to set up her right foot for a strike. It appears like the ball off her chest bounces a little higher than originally planned, but she’s able to adjust accordingly, ensuring she’s still able to make the most out of the position she’s in right in front of goal. Morgan takes the ball with the inside of her foot off the bounce and chips the keeper to put it in the back of the net. Again, Morgan is able to put a great effort on goal even though her first touch wasn’t amazing. She also recognizes that on Krieger’s ball, Boston keeper Abby Smith had come a bit off her line, so she takes complete advantage of that by chipping it right over her head.



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