As we inch closer to the end of the NWSL Fall Series, teams spent the week jockeying for position. The four games played this week saw both goal fests and tight draws alike, all with no shortage of highlights.
Portland Thorns 4- OL Reign 1Embed from Getty Images
It was Captain Canada, Christine Sinclair, who stole all the headlines in the week’s first fixture. The ageless wonder netted a hat trick as her Thorns downed the Reign to extend their hold on first place.
Sincy opened the score in the 40th minute off of a pass from Linsey Horan, ending her 18 game goalless drought against the Reign. She then added to her daily total from the penalty spot in first half stoppage time.
It was all Portland all game, and that continued into the second half. The Thorns finished the game with 500 passes and eight shots on target. One of those came from Raquel Rodriguez in the 57th minute to give her side the 3-0 lead.
The Reign pulled themselves within two thanks to Bethany Balcer’s 70th minute tally. The hope was short lived, however, as Sinclair completed her hat trick just four minutes later.
OL Reign currently sit in last place in the Fall Series standings, with two games remaining. It won’t get easier for them, however, as they take on Portland again on October 10, but catch a break with the eighth place Royals to close out the season.
Washington Spirit 1- Sky Blue FC 0Embed from Getty Images
The Spirit concluded their Fall Series play with a hard fought battle against Sky Blue FC. Washington capitalized on a Sky Blue backline turnover and worked the ball over to Kumi Yokoyama. Yokoyama slipped around a defender and fired the shot into the far corner from the top of the box, her first goal for the club.
After their four games, Washington is sitting in second place with seven points and a +1 goal differential. Barring a Portland collapse, the Spirit cannot move up, but they can be superseded by the Dash, should they not lose their final game.
New Jersey is holding on the sixth in the table, having secured three points, but a -3 goal differential. They’ll close out their season against Chicago, in a win could see them jump as high as fourth.
Utah Royals 1- Portland Thorns 1Embed from Getty Images
In one of the more surprising results of the season, powerhouse Portland was held to a draw against the struggling Royals. Utah opened the scoring just nine minutes in off of a surging attack. After Eckerstrom came up with a diving save to deny the original shot, Amy Rodriguez flew in to finish the job.
Christine Sinclair scored her fourth in two games in the 58th minute. A cross came into the box, causing a little bit of confusion. Sinclair wasn’t to be confused from the 6 yard box though, as she calmly tapped in a volley to pull her team level.
Both teams have a game to go against OL Reign. Portland can secure first place with a win.
Houston Dash 4- North Carolina Courage 1Embed from Getty Images
The Dash continued their torrent scoring pace against the courage, adding four more to their tournament leading tally. It was Canadian Sophie Schmidt who opened the game with a goal in the 30th minute. It was a neat finish from Schmidt, not far out from the goal line after a pass came into a crowd from Kristie Mewis. That would not be Mewis’ final involvement of the match.
The Dash added to their lead just seven minutes later off of another Mewis assist. This time it was Veronica Latsko who found the back of the net, after Mewis caught the Courage backline sleeping. The pair then combined again, exchanging roles, for the Dash’s next goal.
Lynn Williams cut North Carolina’s deficit to two after a 74th minute header. Williams hit the crossbar seconds before the ball was worked back to her for the emphatic finish.
Houston put the exclamation mark on the win in the 83rd minute. It was Mewis who again played a ball through the box for Shea Groom to chip it past Katelyn Rowland. Groom has been having a breakout season, and Mewis had herself a breakout game, getting involved on all four Dash goals.
That wraps up the fourth week of action in the NWSL’s Fall Series. There are five games set for this week to close out the 2020 action, and if the previous play has been any indication, we’re in for a treat.