So the 2016 regular season comes to a close. There weren’t really any big narrative threads, like in 2015 when everyone was talking about Crystal Dunn’s magnificent scoring streak despite being left off the World Cup roster, or the Seattle Reign’s auspicious drive to the top of the table.
This year was interrupted by the Olympics and saw several clubs falter, whether through lack of cohesion or too much roster turnover. That doesn’t mean the playoff race didn’t have its moments, such as the Thorns clinching the regular season shield despite going down early against Sky Blue. And it was interesting (or heartbreaking, depending on who you support) to see last year’s championship contenders Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City struggle just to remain mid-table teams. Meanwhile, the Dash, Pride, and Breakers lingered at the bottom of the table, which was disappointing but not necessarily surprising.
Still, everyone wants to go out on a high note. Here are the results for the last games of the season, and how WNT players fared with their clubs.
Orlando Pride 1 - 2 FC Kansas City
Alex Morgan: Limited opportunities for Morgan in this game, although she did keep Becky Sauerbrunn occupied, which freed up Jasmyne Spencer to consistently threaten for Orlando.
Ashlyn Harris: An extremely unfortunate rebound off a diving save caught Harris with the first goal. Perhaps she could have been in a better spot to help cut down the angle and thus wouldn’t have had to dive so hard, but at the same time that rebound was absolutely brutal. The second goal for KC was a late PK taken by Heather O’Reilly, and there was really no stopping that one.
Becky Sauerbrunn: She stuck tight to Alex Morgan for most of the game and was able to choke off a lot of runs onto the ball.
Boston Breakers 0 - 4 Western New York Flash
Whitney Engen: She lasted 90 minutes despite not being 100% and to be fair to the defense, at least two of those four goals may have had some referee assistance.
Samantha Mewis: She picked up a goal, a great header in the box, and helped keep Boston in their own half for big chunks of the game.
Chicago Red Stars 3 - 1 Washington Spirit
Christen Press: A goal and an assist for Press. She was quieter at some points due to limited service, but when she pushed up she was an immediate threat on goal, like a fast counter in the 35’ that saw her blast across acres of space and get clear of the defense.
Julie Johnston: She kept up good cover to limit a lot of Washington’s opportunities, often keeping them at the fringes of the box, and had some good steps to cut out Washington attacks and keep the Red Stars pressed high.
Alyssa Naeher: Did not play
Crystal Dunn: If Johnston pushed the Spirit out of the 18, then Dunn was the clear exception to the rule. She kept cutting into the box and got off plenty of shots, ultimately scoring the Spirit’s only goal of the game with a slow roller that fooled GK Michele Dalton.
Ali Krieger: She and Dunn worked as well as ever along the right side, but too many of her passes up got cut off by the Red Stars, who were determined to limit keep a close eye on Dunn.
Sky Blue FC 1 - 3 Portland Thorns
Kelley O’Hara: She spurred a lot of the Sky Blue attack and picked up an assist on their only goal, delivering a nice corner to the far post for Tasha Kai to head home.
Tobin Heath: Heath got an assist on a great free kick to Allie Long and generally opened up a lot of attacking for the Thorns.
Lindsey Horan: She was constantly in and around the box, but also helped set up attacks with distribution. She also kept up a good connection with Long and scored a goal of her own in the 57’ off a short run to get in front of a defender and bounce into a quick header.
Allie Long: Sky Blue let her have way too much space in the middle of the park and she took every inch of it. Long racked up two goals for Portland, including burying the Thorns’ third goal by staying strong with a defender hounding her and finding a way to turn and shoot.
Meghan Klingenberg: She was able to press very high for most of the game, which helped create a lot of pressure through her interplay with Horan and Heath.
Emily Sonnett: She didn’t quite have a lot to do after the first goal from Sky Blue and her counterpart Emily Menges was there to step to a lot of challenges. Still, she did help keep the Thorns pushed high by cutting out late Sky Blue attacks.
Houston Dash 2 - 3 Seattle Reign
Carli Lloyd: She picked up a nice goal in the first half, dancing a bit in plenty of space to set up a perfect shot that made it 2-0 for Houston. She also had some nice moments of connection with Janine Beckie that should have given Houston at least one goal more.
Morgan Brian: Brian helped Houston get into the attack earlier on and pushed forward herself, creating danger up the middle and along the wings as needed. It took heavy pressure from Seattle in the second half to really start cutting her off.
Megan Rapinoe: 66’ minutes for Rapinoe in this game, who was all over the field trying to spark an attack for Seattle and almost got in a few times until she was subbed.