The NWSL playoff picture is coming into focus and many of the Aussies are front and center. Here’s how they did in Week 22:
Seattle Reign secured a playoff spot with their 2-0 home victory over the Houston Dash. Seattle goalkeeper Lydia Williams finished the game with four crucial saves, the last one coming off a shot on goal in the 75th minute. Williams was able to get her fingertips on the ball just enough to push the ball in the air, ricocheting off the post and back into her gloves.
Seattle defender Steph Catley, who just returned from a lengthy excused absence, picked up right where she left off – disrupting play, feeding crosses into the box, and pressuring opposition turnovers.
For Houston, midfielder Clare Polkinghorne spent the game on the bench and forward Kyah Simon did not suit up.
A few days later, Seattle hosted League-leaders North Carolina Courage, where they drew 1-1. Once again, it was Seattle keeper Lydia Williams to the rescue, coming up with nearly a dozen saves – one more miraculous than the next.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time, NC scored on a corner kick. The ball pinged around in front of goal, and after several blocked shots, the ball found the back of the net for the equalizer. This ended a four-game shutout streak for Williams.
Watch Williams’ many saves:
The visiting Utah Royals beat Washington Spirit 0-1. Defender Katrina Gorry never entered the game.
Portland Thorns edged Sky Blue, 2-1. Portland’s starting lineup was heavy with Aussies, featuring Hayley Raso, Caitlin Foord, and Ellie Carpenter. In the 34th minute, Raso sliced a shot across the front of the net, missing the far post by inches.
Watch the Portland Thorns vs. Sky Blue highlights:
In their second match of the week, Portland traveled to Washington D.C. to meet the Spirit at MLS stadium Audi Field. Portland scored the lone goal of the match in the 15th minute on a brilliant assist from Raso. Later in the 55th minute, a scary scene, as Raso had to be stretchered off the pitch after a hard collision with the goalkeeper.
After the match, Portland announced that Raso suffered a non-displaced fracture of the vertebrae. She will be out six to eight weeks, and will miss the remainder of the 2018 NWSL season. This was Raso’s ninth start of the season and has two goals and two assists in 2018.
With playoff hopes on the line, Orlando Pride fell to the Chicago Red Stars 1-3 at home. After experimenting with a three-back defence, Orlando Head Coach Tom Sermanni played a 4-3-3, starting Alanna Kennedy at center midfield. Regardless, there was no stopping Chicago forward Sam Kerr, who ended the match with a brace and an assist.
Kerr scored the opening goal in the 44th minute before finding Vanessa DiBernardo in first-half stoppage time. Kerr scored again in the 59th minute. Orlando is now eliminated from the playoff scenario. With two games left in their schedule, Chicago needs only a draw to punch the final ticket into the playoffs. The brace makes Kerr the league’s top scorer with 14 goals on the season so far.
Watch Kerr pick Kennedy’s pocket for her second goal of the match:
This the flow that got the block hot. pic.twitter.com/N4EY6tWd9P— Chicago Red Stars (@chiredstarsPR) August 26, 2018
Houston Dash put the hurt on visiting Sky Blue, 6-1. Soon after subbing in at the 75th minute, Forward Kyah Simon assisted on a goal, delivering a perfectly-placed corner kick for another Houston goal. Houston midfielder Clare Polkinghorne is out with a left ankle sprain.
Watch Simon’s assist: