Things Are Tightening Up
It was a hot one in Week 13 of the NWSL Regular Season. Temperatures soared into the 90s, even the low triple digits throughout the week and it seemed that the weather did put a damper on some of the more critical matches. The result of the heat gave fans some sluggish matches, with players fighting not only their opposition but the elements for crucial points. At the end of the day, it proved for some great drama as some teams that almost looked to be out of playoff contention a week ago just put themselves back in the picture. There were some late heroics that helped the top of the table side through to a much needed three points. Plus, there was an announcement of sorts that many may have missed this weekend, but it seems that a top foreign international will be heading the NWSL way for the 2014 season. With all of that, lets look back at Week 13:
Sydney Leroux and Heather O’Reilly: I promise I’m not getting into this combination pattern (last week I highlighted the combined performances of Western New York’s Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach), but when all three goals in the week were provided between these two players, it has to be noted. Sydney Leroux is proving to be one of the most lethal scoring weapons in the league with after her three-goal performance, one against Seattle and a brace in the 2-0 win over Portland. Leroux now has ten goals this season, with the bulk of them coming in bunches (a hat trick coming back on May 4 against Chicago and now this weeks performance counts for six of her total goals). Her first goal against Portland was an absolute cracker, cutting back across the midfield and scorching the net far post from nearly 30 yards out. What’s more is that her and Heather O’Reilly are on the same page as O’Reilly assisted on all Leroux’s goals this week. If O’Reilly can continue her strong play on the wings, combining her with Lianne Sanderson in the middle and Rhian Wilkinson stepping up on the other flank (who quietly had a very good performance against Portland on Saturday night), Lisa Cole’s team may be peaking at the right time.
Erika Tymrak: With Lauren Cheney (now Lauren Holiday) getting married this week, Vlatko Andonovski needed someone to step up into that play making midfield role. And Erika Tymrak did quite a good job in FC Kansas City’s two matches. She scored a goal on Wednesday night against Washington and on Sunday she easily was the best field player, running right through the Western New York midfield on many occasions and setting her teammates up with numerous occasions. She has put in some great matches this season, making her one of my candidates as Rookie (or Young Player, no clue how the league is going about post-season voting) of the Year. With four goals and one assist on the season and looking like she has solidified a starting role in the midfield, those numbers will rise for sure.
The Little Things
Sky Blue Getting Away with One: Jim Gabarra’s side really needs Lisa De Vanna back in a bad way. Not to say that Sky Blue are not as good without her, but her high pressure and unpredictability that she brings to the game was sorely missed in the past couple of matches when she has been overseas with Australia. But fortunately for Gabarra, veteran striker Monica Ocampo has put herself in good positions to get goals and results while De Vanna has been gone. Late on Saturday night against Washington, Sky Blue was getting outplayed by the Spirit for the first hour, but then after Danesha Adams had her shot blocked, Ocampo was there to pounce on the loose ball and float one over Ashlyn Harris for the winner. It doesn’t matter how you get three points, it just matters that the three points are won and that’s really how Sky Blue are still on top of the table. They have really only blown out opponents twice this season, even receiving a 3-0 thumping at the hands of Western New York. But they are pulling out points from almost every match which is what Gabarra wants going forward towards the end of the season.
Lori Chalupny: Right Spot, Right Time: I still truly think that the former USWNT midfielder deserves a second shot with the current USWNT team. She is one of the keyed players by the opposition every match, suffering the most fouls in the league through this weekend and almost marked by their opponents best defenders. But throughout she still finds ways to get her team in good positions. On Thursday against Western New York, she got her nose inside the box on a rebound from an Inka Grings header and fired home the winner. That is her second game winner of the season (a stat that I feel does deserve a little more attention than it is), tied with a plethora of players for second behind Sydney Leroux but it always seems that Chalupny is in on late heroics, either scoring or setting up the late goal. Regardless, her work on Thursday put the Red Stars back in contention for the last playoff spot, eight points behind Western New York with a match in hand.
Nadine Angerer to NWSL
Yup, the German International is coming to America…next season. First off, I don’t really get into the silly season (the international transfer window) too much, but according to an interview she had recently with Womensoccer.de, she will be playing in the Westfield W-League in a few months then coming to the NWSL in 2014. Apparently, according to the report which is right here, she already has the clubs “picked out” but won’t say anything, at least for the NWSL, until after the season is over. Regardless, this is definitely a high-profile player that would bolster the NWSL profile. It was announced at the beginning of the season that the leagues intention at the start wasn’t necessarily looking to have the best talent in the world but to showcase the top talent in North America. But having Angerer in the NWSL will be a nice addition for 2014. Let the guessing game commence now on where she will be going next season.
Alternate Jerseys…Need More of Them
This will be quick, but I have to say I enjoyed the Chicago Red Stars Fourth of July Red Alternate jersey. It wasn’t anything crazy to say the least but it’s about time we have seen an alternate jersey. I enjoy seeing them because it just changes the pace a little bit and it gets the fans excited to see something new. Now, where’s the rest of the league on this? According to the NWSL official online shop, Western New York has some pink and black number and FC Kansas City has a black alternate, but both have yet to be worn this season. The season is only a few weeks away from ending so let’s get a move on people, and for the rest of the league that hasn’t chosen an alternate for this season, let’s get a little creative for next year on color schemes and/or throwbacks to the old days (but please Sky Blue, no full orange jerseys)
Week 14 Match to Watch
Seattle Reign FC vs Washington Spirit, Sunday July 14, 5:30pm Local time, Starfire Stadium, (TV) FOX SOCCER CHANNEL
It’s going to be a tough middle of the week for the Seattle Reign, with hosing Western New York on Wednesday night, but if they pick up any points from that match, this one could get quite interesting. Seattle, once winless in this league not too long ago, has had a run of four straight matches with getting points and if things go right this week, Laura Harvey’s side could be looking at a late surge at a playoff position from out of nowhere. And for Washington, they have looked better this week after the firing of former Head Coach Mike Jorden, but only got a point out of six potential points this week. And you can add the fact that this is the first match as part of the television deal with Fox Sports so it will be curious to see how the production is put together in it’s maiden broadcast.
Week 13 Results
Washington Spirit 1-1 FC Kansas City
Seattle Reign FC 1-1 Boston Breakers
Chicago Red Stars 1-0 Western New York Flash
Sky Blue FC 1-0 Washington Spirit
Portland Thorns 0-2 Boston Breakers
FC Kansas City 0-0 Western New York Flash
JJ Duke graduated from Rider University in New Jersey with a degree in Digital Media Studies. While his playing days may have ended back in high school, he still prides himself of being a decent shot-stopper and an all-around fanatic of the beautiful game (fervent supporter of Manchester United and the founder of a Rider supporters group, the 206 Ultras). He is the Student General Manager at 107.7 The Bronc at Rider and has contributed to various local newspaper and Web sites in the Trenton, NJ area of high school and collegiate sports including The Rider News and Fish4Scores.com. He became involved with Our Game Magazine early in 2012 when upon following OGM on Twitter, he was contacted within minutes (which caught him by surprise) by Tiffany about working with the team. After spending the summer covering the USL W-League and the WPSL-Elite league as an intern, he is looking forward to continue working with the OGM team, especially on games in the US.