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NWSL: Portland clinches another playoff spot

Portland Thorns FC 4-0 Washington Spirit: A trip to Portland wasn’t all that fun for the Washington Spirit. Mark them down as losing their fourth match in a row.

Their playoff hopes have flown out the window, as they sit in last place in the NWSL standings. The best that the Spirit can do is not finish in that 10th place slot.

However, falling to the Portland Thorns on the road by a final of 4-0 doesn’t help. It also doesn’t help to not have your starting goalkeeper – in this case, Stephanie Labbé – not up for selection.

Instead, for the Spirit, Didi Haracic earned the nod. Haracic made four saves, but let goals fly by her from Nadia Nadim (22′), Christine Sinclair (25′, 81′) and Emily Sonnett (40′).

“Washington is a very hard team to play and that first goal was so important for us,” said midfielder Lindsey Horan. “I think it calmed us all down and it kind of got us going as well. We got confident and we were playing. We were knocking it and everyone was doing their job. It looked great.”

The Spirit also had trouble in the discipline factor as well, giving up 11 fouls compared to Portland’s seven. Haracic was shown a yellow card in the 21′ minute, while Portland’s Katherine Reynolds also received a yellow card from referee Ekaterina Koroleva in the 36′ minute.

As for the Thorns, in front of 19,141 fans at Providence Park, the No. 2 team in the NWSL clinched their spot for the NWSL playoffs. They join the North Carolina Courage, the No. 1 team, as clinched teams.

Only two more spots are up for grabs.

Orlando Pride 4-2 Boston Breakers: The Boston Breakers, just like the Washington Spirit, don’t have any playoff hopes alive. However, that’s not the case for the Orlando Pride.

The Pride currently sit in fourth place, in the last playoff position, with 35 points. Currently, they’re trying to hold off the Seattle Reign, who sit in the fifth place with 30 points. The Chicago Red Stars sit in third place, also with 35 points.

On Saturday, the Pride hosted the Breakers down south. It wasn’t a shut out for Ashlyn Harris, but she has her attacking players to thank for the victory.

Goals flourished for Rachel Hill, who scored a brace in the match. Her first goal came in the 8′ minute, assisted by Alex Morgan, and her second in the 15′ minute, unassisted.

Orlando’s final two goals were scored by Marta (67′) and Chioma Ubogagu (77′). Marta’s goal was assisted by Ubogagu.

“I thought the first 30 minutes we were superb. I thought that’s probably the best 30 minutes that we’ve had this season. We were slick, movement was great, we were creating chances. We really dominated the game,” head coach Tom Sermanni said. “But we need to be probably a little bit better when we’re not going through those spells and we’re playing really well. I think we were playing really well. We played some fantastic football.”

As for the Breakers, goals were scored by Rosie White (49′) and Julie King (88′). King’s goal was her first of the season. Of note for the Breakers was that Rose Lavelle made her return from injury, entering the match in the 72′ minute to replace Brooke Elby.

In goal, Harris wasn’t forced to make any saves. Meanwhile, Boston’s Abby Smith made three saves.

FC Kansas City 4-1 Sky Blue FC: Congratulations, Nicole Barnhart.

The longtime NWSL goalkeeper made her 100th regular-season NWSL appearance on Sunday, and helped FC Kansas City win a big match over Sky Blue FC. She didn’t have a clean sheet, but a win is a win.

Barnhart made five saves, as did Sky Blue FC’s Kailen Sheridan. However, the attacking players of FC Kansas City were more successful than Sky Blue’s.

Shea Groom put herself on the score sheet twice, scoring a brace. Her first goal came in the 44′ minute, assisted by Lo’eau LaBonta. LaBonta scored her own goal only two minutes prior, in the 42′ minute.

Groom’s second goal occurred in the 64′ minute, and was unassisted. Meanwhile, FC Kansas City’s fourth goal was scored by Sydney Leroux in the 90’+4′, and was assisted by Maegen Kelly.

Sky Blue’s lone goal was scored by Madison Tiernan in the 83′ minute, assisted by Taylor Lytle.

Neither side received a yellow or red card from referee Luis Guardia.

As for Sky Blue FC’s place on the NWSL chart, they sit in sixth place with 29 points. Sky Blue is right above FC Kansas City, who sit in seventh place with 26 point.

Chicago Red Stars 2-1 North Carolina Courage: The Chicago Red Stars have had some struggles at home in recent weeks. However, Sunday was their last home match at Toyota Park, and they wanted to send off the home season the right way.

They did that, by upsetting the No. 1 team in the NWSL: the North Carolina Courage.

Two second-half goals gave the Red Stars all three points, which now puts them in third place, a playoff spot. Yuki Nagasato scored Chicago’s first goal in the 52′ minute, then assisted Julie Ertz’ game-winning goal in the 84′ minute.

As for the Courage, Lynn Williams, assisted by Jessica McDonald, scored the opening goal of the match in the 15′ minute.

Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher kept busy throughout the match. She made five saves against the Courage. Meanwhile, Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland made one save.

Chicago had two yellow cards shown to Danielle Colaprico (40′) and Ertz (73′). Meanwhile, North Carolina had one yellow card shown to McCall Zerboni in the 77′ minute. The yellow card is Zerboni’s fifth of the season, and she will miss the Courage’s next match.

Of note for the Red Stars, Morgan Brian made her official appearance since being traded from the Houston Dash.

Houston Dash 0-1 Seattle Reign: With the havoc of Hurricane Harvey dismantling the city of Houston, the Houston Dash headed to Frisco, Texas to host the Seattle Reign.

The their first match since the hurricane, the Dash were blanked at “home” by the Seattle Reign.

Scoring the lone goal for the Reign was Merritt Mathias, assisted by Beverly Yanez.

However, all eyes were on Reign head coach Laura Harvey. Harvey earned her 50th NWSL regular-season win, and Seattle was the second NWSL club to reach the mark.

 

Photo of the Chicago Red Stars courtesy of Daniel Bartel/ISI Photos.

Follow @RachaelMcKriger on Twitter for all NWSL coverage.

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Rachael McKriger
Sports Journalist
Rachael McKriger writes for RSEN Report (Lead Editor), Pittsburgh Sports Castle (Content Editor), Mon Goals and W2M Network, in addition to being a sports stringer/reporter for the Mon Valley Independent newspaper.
A senior of California Univ. of Pennsylvania, you can follow her on Twitter, @RachaelMcKriger, where you can find all of her articles. Search "McKriger Photography" on Facebook, to see her photos.
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