Recap with notes and .gifs

Portland and Houston have a lot to mull over, now that the first game of the season is in the books, and the results are less than impressive. The NWSL Champions, Portland Thorns, shut out the home team, Houston, on the back of a 1-0 goal by Allie Long in the first half.

Upcoming Fixtures: 

Sky Blue FC vs Portland Thorns FC - Saturday, April 19 @ 7 PM ET

Boston Breakers vs Houston Dash - Sunday, April 20 @ 6:30 PM ET

I woke up this morning to a few people messaging me about how they think Caitlin Foord is better suited for the defense and not midfield. Well, this is my argument for why Foord should be in the midfield. She is crafty on the ball. 
Sky Blue FC vs. Chicago Red Stars - May 8, 2013

I woke up this morning to a few people messaging me about how they think Caitlin Foord is better suited for the defense and not midfield. Well, this is my argument for why Foord should be in the midfield. She is crafty on the ball. 

Sky Blue FC vs. Chicago Red Stars - May 8, 2013

When asked about Kelley O’Hara’s position, either as a forward or defender, Gabarra said that; “We really have not finalized a position for her and we will see how the next two weeks go.”

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Currently, Sky Blue FC is playing their third exhibition match and it appears as though O’Hara is in defense. 

A review of Sky Blue FC’s record setting 2013 NWSL season and some of the new recruits, that Jim Gabarra has gathered together for the upcoming 2014 season. 

A review of the Chicago Red Stars 2013 NWSL season and a look at how their 2014 season could be a real contender for the NWSL Championship Title. 

The Washington Spirit concluded their regular season campaign in last place of the inaugural NWSL season with a 3-14-5 record. Despite being the first ousted club last season, Washington demonstrated their unrelenting fighting spirit until the final whistle was blown on August 18, 2013.

To say the Spirit had a rocky season would be an understatement. With fourteen losses under their belt, the Maryland club only managed to log three wins, but two consecutive wins in the final month of regular season play, shutting out Chicago and Seattle. However, with the Spirit, the glass is always half full. The double digit losses do not reflect the attitudes of the players that walked onto the field every week. The score lines were hard fought but the Spirit never gave up. Their defense conceded 39 goals but none of the remaining seven clubs showed as much heart for the game to never throw in the towel before the 90 minutes were called.   

Washington should be commended for their motivation on the field but unfortunately, this passion did not prove beneficial when it mattered most, advancing to the post season. The Washington Spirit suffered several shake-ups not only to their roster but to their management. The Spirit replaced Head Coach Mike Jordan, in favor of Mark Parsons, the teams Head Coach for the reserves squad. This was a brilliant move because the Spirit appeared to adopt a sharper focus and technical skill on the ball following the addition of Parsons. The first game with Parsons at the helm would see the Spirit host the heavyweights, FC Kansas City, who at the time, were riding a three game unbeaten streak. The Spirit tied Kansas 1-1, following a last ditched effort by Tiffany McCarty who earned a penalty kick in the 85th minute and was converted by Diana Matheson. Kansas had trouble breaking down the Spirits midfield in the first half, unable to score until the 54th minute. Under Parson’s guidance, the Spirit scored more frequently for the remainder of the season and survived their toughest month yet. In the month of July they were scheduled for seven games, nearly double the amount of matches than any other month that season.  

Speaking of Matheson, she remains one of the strongest players that the Spirit have going into the next season. She is the team’s leading scorer and helped pick up the slack of the back four while also maintaining an offensive mind-set when the team’s forwards couldn’t control the ball. One of the Spirits largest problems last season was the disorganized attack and the late-to-respond defense. Luckily, Matheson alongside Lori Lindsey helped balance this out as much as possible.

It is a shame that Matheson had to overload her duties on the field because the Spirit actually had some sparkling talent up front but might not have spent enough time improving their skills. Recently, Stephanie Ochs was drafted to the Houston Dash alongside Tiffany McCarty but as a Spirit, Ochs was agile and talented on the ball but it seemed that a lot of the time her partner up front struggled to connect with her. This might be because the only forwards the Spirit enlisted were inexperienced players on a professional level. Caroline Miller lifted many of the Washington fans hopes but unfortunately an injury took her out of the game late into the season. Next to Miller was the youngster McCarty who spent the most time on the field up top but failed to score even a fraction of Matheson’s tally. This is disappointing considering that McCarty’s job is to score goals while Matheson’s job is primarily to link passes with the forwards.

It became obvious that not enough training was being set aside for the forwards because using an excuse such as they were rookies is weak. Granted, they were rookies last season but McCarty and Miller were both MAC Hermann trophy finalists and broke records with their scoring talent at their respective colleges.

Lastly, the Spirit’s 2013 season would not be complete without the goal stopping heroics of Ashlyn Harris. Yes, the Spirit conceded the most goals but at the end of the season, Harris made 85 saves in 18 games, placing her third only to NWSL champion Karina LeBlanc and second place victor, Adrianne Franch. Statistically, Harris did a fantastic job between the posts and will hopefully have more communication with her back four next season so that she can record more than two shutouts.  

Onwards and Upwards

Luckily for Spirit fans, Parsons is here to stay after having his interim coach title removed and promoted to Head Coach and General Manager of the Spirit. Considering that he now has more time to develop a tremendous team that will work well together and more importantly communicate on the field. His vision is slowly being pieced together as it was recently announced that the Spirit have acquired two U.S. NT players, Crystal Dunn and Yael Averbuch. These are interesting picks and it’s slightly obvious where Parsons is looking to place them on the field.

Dunn is a guaranteed starter in the back four alongside Ali Krieger, Robyn Gayle and Toni Pressley. Placing Dunn in the midfield is not the best idea because without Dunn, the back four remain the same from last season. This means that Washington risks conceding another 39 goals. However, Dunn could be the Washington Spirit’s version of a Kelley O’Hara. She could be the next hybrid to play two positions depending on the opposing team the Spirit will face that week. For tougher teams like WNYFlash or FCKC, Dunn would be great as a defender. For lesson competitive teams such as Chicago or Boston who lack strong defense, Dunn would be perfect as an outside midfielder.

So, on the one hand, to place Dunn in the midfield is futile because the midfield is already packed with talented players such as Matheson, Lindsey and Christine Nairn. Not to mention, Averbuch who possesses a taller stature than her midfield comrades. This is a valuable commodity when playing against vertically gifted teams such as the WNYFlash. Averbuch has the ability to win 50/50 balls in the air while Dunn is more suited to play in the back four, possibly keeping her left back position.

The regular season roster has yet to be finalized but it is concerning why Parsons has overloaded his recent picks with forwards and not taken the time to split it up evenly with forwards and defenders joining the ranks. Think of it this way, Gayle, Krieger and Dunn are all NT players that can be called away for National Team matches during the season. This means that Parson’s needs a strong reserve of defenders because many teams like Portland and Sky Blue do just fine without their NT players.

Judging by the college draft, aside from Dunn, Washington only chose two other players, Molly Menchel (D) (decided not to play this season) and Shasta Fisher (M). Fisher will face a tough time finding minutes on the field now that the Spirit have acquired Dunn (D), Nairn (M) and Averbuch (M).

Much of the focus was placed on the forwards. Parsons added Tiffany Weimer, Danesha Adams, Renae Cuellar and Jodie Taylor. These are great strikers with a plethora of experience on an international level but the best pick was Jodie Taylor. Taylor is an English footballer who has played in Canada, U.S., England, Australia and Sweden. She has demonstrated that she can score on any team she is placed, which makes her a safe bet for a starter position up front.

Playing alongside Taylor, it would be easy to imagine Cuellar or D. Adams. In terms of goal scoring abilities, Cuellar is the best option because of her record with FC Kansas City, scoring five goals in eleven appearances. In terms of handling and linking the ball up top, the best option is Adams. The former Sky Blue FC forward had a good but not great season with the New Jersey club. Adams started the season on a high note, netting three goals with the last goal finding the back of the net in early June. This is a bit worrisome but hopefully something that she has improved upon during her time abroad playing for the Atasehir Belediyespor in the Turkish Women’s League.

It is unlikely that the Spirit will make many changes to their now tentative roster during the preseason but at least this roster has provided fans with an insight into the areas Parson’s is targeting to improve and has done a very good job fixing the problem areas from last year. Finally, Spirit fans can rest easy because it looks like Washington is gearing up for an exciting and competitive season and a spot in the post-season.  

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Asker Anonymous Asks:
I agree, I think that not putting in Krieger and Engen will cause a very weak back line resulting in a lot of pressure on Solo. I'm interested in seeing what happens and how long it'll take until subs are brought in.
turtlerooter12 turtlerooter12 Said:

I hope I am wrong and that this back line is awesome but it’s just a bit weird that Sermanni would choose to start Cox … she hasn’t been that great this tournament or in any of the international friendlies earlier this year. 

I think he will only make subs early in the second half, but hopefully US will score an early goal now that Leroux is back and Press is starting! lol 

Granted the game hasn’t started yet and I haven’t seen how the back four plays against Denmark but so far, this isn’t the greatest defense that Sermanni could have assembled. Just saying.

Rampone and Engen are superb but Klingenberg and Cox aren’t the strongest.

Would have been better if he added Krieger and O’Hara alongside Engen and Rampone and then for the second half subbed Broon in for Rampone or Engen

Chicago Red Stars are an awesome team but they definitely need a better back four presence and I think Casey Short can provide them with that. 

Washington Spirit vs Sky Blue FC

Match Date: Sunday August 18 2013

Time: 5:00 PM ET or 2:00 PM PT

Venue: Maryland Soccerplex, Boyds, MD

Online: NWSL Soccer YouTube Channel

Sky Blue nearly clinched three points last week until a late equalizer in overtime from Jackie Santacaterina left the New Jersey club still fighting for sole possession in the top four.  This week, Sky Blue might have some relief in their starting XI if Danesha Adams and Lisa De Vanna’s injuries have improved. Both strikers are currently listed as probable alongside Nayeli Rangel.

This week, Sky Blue competes against a team that has risen from the bottom. The Washington Spirit have recorded two consecutive wins but lost 1-0 to Sky Blue early in August. The Spirit are fighting fit while Sky Blue is gradually getting back into form. This season finale is one that should not be missed as it could end in the Spirit concluding their season on a high with three consecutive wins and preventing Sky Blue from gaining sole possession of second place. In addition, Sky Blue might have their best chance to gain a lead in the top four.

The Spirit are strong defensively but still struggle offensively. Lupita Worbis and Diana Matheson scored the Spirit’s game winners this month but the teams goals for record is the lowest in the league with fifteen goals. Washington needs to overcome their former statistics if they wish to defeat Sky Blue, the team that has defeated them three times this season.

This season finale is unpredictable because Sky Blue struggle offensively when Monica Ocampo is not on the field. It is unlikely that Ocampo will not start but she might have some difficulty manevouring around the Spirit defense. Washington’s midfield is not as strong but could still push the Sky Blue offense at bay, leaving Sophie Schmidt frustrated.

When Schmidt gets frustrated she usually finds more pockets for her teammates up front. Offensively, Sky Blue will rely on Ocampo, Schmidt and Freels to find the back of the net while Manya Makoski and Taylor Lytle push the ball forward.


Washington Spirit – Candace Chapman, Caroline Miller, Toni Pressley and Colleen Williams

Sky Blue FC – Brittany Bock, Caitlin Foord and Kelley O’Hara

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FC Kansas City vs Chicago Red Stars

Match Date: Sunday August 18 2013

Time: 4:10 PM ET or 1:10 PM PT

Venue: Verizon Wireless Field, Overland Park, Kansas

Online: NWSL Soccer YouTube Channel

Pending on the results from the remainder of the top four teams, FC Kansas City currently hold first place with 38 points under their belt. It is vital for FCKC to defeat Chicago or else they risk being tied for first place if the remaining three post season teams defeat their opposition.

FC Kansas City is a solid team throughout the pitch but the top seeded team in the league fell last week to Boston and narrowly defeated Portland the week before.  This week in order to maintain home advantage of the post-season, FCKC will need to rely on Erika Tymrak and Lauren Holiday to pull out a win despite failing to score a single goal last week against Boston.

Holiday and Tymrak can find the back of the net but will need the support of Kristie Mewis. The Boston midfielder/defender has a knack at finding the holes in the opposition’s defense. She will be  a vital component for the FCKC offense as they look to put themselves on the board.

For Chicago, they are still without Lori Chalupny but this hasn’t prevented the Red Stars from fighting hard to secure a point or three. Last week, Chicago came back against Sky Blue, tying the New Jersey club 3-3 at home. The Red Stars are fighters and they will not conclude their NWSL season without giving FCKC a run for their money.

The Red Stars strongest attacking players at the moment are Jackie Santacaterina and Inka Grings. For the month of August, both players have scored two goals apiece and will look to tie Boston for fifth place. Helping them find goals will be Adriana Leon, the Red Stars sparkplug who makes it very difficult for the opposition to dispossess. She will be a vital player along with Leslie Osborne in the midfield.

FC Kansas City will keep their usual strategy but their biggest strength on the field is head coach Vlatko Andonovski who will be directing the attack from the bench. FC Kansas City will look to attack down the center through Tymrak and Holiday, which means that Chicago needs to be on high alert and possibly keep Taylor Vancil between the posts for extra measure.


FC Kansas City – None Reported

Chicago Red Stars – Lori Chalupny, Taryn Hemmings, Shannon Boxx and Zakiya Bywaters

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Seattle Reign FC vs Portland Thorns FC

Match Date: Saturday August 17 2013

Time: 8:00 PM PT or 11:00 PM ET

Venue: Moda Health Pitch at Starfire Stadium, Tukwilla, WA

Online: NWSL Soccer YouTube Channel

Before Seattle concludes their 2013 NWSL season, they will face their rivals, the Portland Thorns FC. The third installment of the Cascadia clash will take place at Seattle’s home stadium, Starfire. The Reign have lost two previous meetings against the Thorns but this week their luck might change.

Alex Morgan is still sidelined with a MCL sprain along with Nikki Washington. Without Morgan, the Thorns have failed to record three points. In the match against Boston in which Morgan sustained her injury, the Thorns only managed to score once. The remainder of the match Portland struggled to gain an attacking edge through Christine Sinclair. The chemistry up front continued to disappoint when the Thorns met WNYF last week.

If Seattle can overwhelm the Portland midfield, then they might secure three points at home against their rivals. For Seattle to celebrate a victory and prevent Portland from gaining sole possession of second place, they will need to use Megan Rapinoe and Liz Bogus up front. The midfield is strong without Rapinoe, but the attacking force up front lacks the creativity that Rapinoe brings.

The Reign defense is strong but need to maintain their composure without conceding silly fouls or free kicks which will fall to the feet of Sinclair. For Seattle, their best bet is to use Jessica Fishlock’s speed, Keelin Winters control of the ball and Christine Nairn’s accuracy. For Portland, Tobin Heath is sitting on four yellow cards, something that could work in Seattle’s favor.


Seattle Reign FC – None Reported

Portland Thorns FC – Becky Edwards, Alex Morgan and Nikki Washington

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Western New York Flash vs Boston Breakers

Match Date: Saturday August 17 2013

Time:  8:00 PM ET or 5:00 PM PT

Venue: Sahlen’s Stadium, Rochester, New York

TV: Fox Soccer

The Flash are currently leading a three way tie with Portland and Sky Blue FC for sole possession of second place or a chance to tie for first place pending on FC Kansas City’s result against Chicago. Boston on the other hand, have been eliminated from the post season and will complete their final match of the 2013 NWSL season on Saturday live on Fox Soccer at Sahlen’s Stadium.

The Breakers are unbeaten in four matches, most recently defeating FC Kansas City 1-0 at home. On the other end of the field, WNYF are unbeaten in six games but their performance last week against Portland was underwhelming as the Rochester giants failed to crack the deadlock for 90 minutes.

This week, for the Flash to gain sole possession of second place they will need to rely on Carli Lloyd. The U.S. midfielder is their strongest attacking player. In week 18, the Flash narrowly defeated Seattle 1-0 thanks in large part to Lloyd. She found numerous opportunities on goal but could not defeat Seattle’s keeper, Hope Solo.

Lloyd is accurate and strong on the ball and will be WNYF’s strongest foot forward. She will need support up top from strikers Samantha Kerr and Abby Wambach to feed her the ball but once they find their rhythm, this trio will be difficult to suspend from scoring.


Western New York Flash – Alex Sahlen

Boston Breakers – Bianca D’Agostino

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