Another week is in the books for the NWSL -- a short one given that two teams were on the bye and another pair had their game postponed due to extenuating circumstances -- but nevertheless, there were two excellent games played, and once again the Canadian contribution made themselves known to the American WoSo watcher.
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Washington Spirit 1-1 Western New York Flash
Goal: Diana Matheson 87' (PK)
The Spirit came off week one with a draw against a high powered attack that was the Boston Breakers, and this week they faced off against the Western New York Flash, a team that boasted Abby Wambach. But once again, the Spirit defence, again including Robyn Gayle in the central defensive role, were largely up to the task of defending the American superstar. It would take about 20 minutes before Wambach would start asking questions of the defence, but it wouldn't be until the 85th minute, on a free kick that Australian Samantha Kerr would break the deadlock with a tip in from Wambach that the Spirit couldn't answer.
But cometh the hour, cometh another hero: Diana Matheson, who missed a glorious chance in the seventh minute to open the scoring from a cross off Ali Krieger, would make it up by converting a penalty in the 87th minute, and saving a point for the Spirit, which is still having troubles on the left (a role that Candace Chapman, who was once again unavailable, will likely be called on to fill.) Meawhile, Jodi-Ann Robinson would be a very late substitute for Kerr, but had little to do.
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If I didn't know any better, Portland definitely likes their soccer. What else could explain the 16,479 that attended the Thorns' first match? Well, that and it was the Seattle Reign that they drew (the first of four meetings this first season of the NWSL) -- but still, when all was said and done, the Thorns, who looked shaky against FC Kansas City last week, rebounded nicely after finally getting a week together.
Emily Zurrer once again got the start in the Reign defence, and largely kept her national team captain quiet...well, mostly. The Seattle back line was under siege for most of the afternoon, the only break coming when Welsh international Jessica Fishlock would score on a mix-up in the Thorns box in the 73rd minute, breaking what was a command performance from Karina LeBlanc, who gave up the NWSL's first ever goal to Renae Cuellar last week on a soft pass, turned in a master class in front of the home crowd, corralling her defenders and steadying them.
Christine Sinclair didn't score, but was full value for the match; Portland's first goal by Marian Dougherty was the byproduct of a speeding Sinclair whose shot was called for handball, the ensuing free kick from Nikki Washington put home by Dougherty. The second goal was a Sinclair through ball to Morgan, that evaded every Reign defender and put home from six yards out after Michele Betos was beaten. On the other side, Kaylyn Kyle got very involved in the Seattle attack, getting herself mixed up with the Thorns defenders and getting a number of looks at goal. In a Seattle side that is relying on Fishlock (similar to how TFC is relying on Robert Earnshaw for offense), Kyle looks to be due for a few goals soon.