We’re down to the wire here in the playoff race. The Seattle Reign and Sky Blue FC both have three games to try and pick up nine very much needed points, but #4 WNY Flash will play two games against bottom-of-the-table Boston before the end of the regular season, making it likely they’ll pick up at least some points to stay in the top four.
Here’s how national team players fared in week 17 of NWSL:
Boston Breakers 1 - 3 Houston Dash
Whitney Engen: She was caught high a few times trying to apply pressure in the midfield, but at the same time, should have been able to rely on the three other defenders behind her to handle the Dash on each goal.
Carli Lloyd: A goal and assist for Lloyd in her return to the Dash. She had a lot of space and time to run around on the field trying to punch holes in the Boston defense.
Morgan Brian: Another typically competent game from Brian, though the Breakers attacking lines were disjointed enough it wasn’t too hard for her to help control the tempo in the midfield.
Washington Spirit 1 - 1 Western New York Flash
Crystal Dunn: She had an assist for the game and a couple of decent shots herself, although she did look a bit like she was still getting into the groove for the Spirit.
Ali Krieger: She got more involved with the game as it went on, eventually pushing up more to enable wide play. Later in the game she cut off penetrating runs and and pressured the Flash into a turnover.
Samantha Mewis: Mewis did a good job in the midfield with her passing and stepping to others to start WNY’s play forward and eventually bagged the tying goal, getting an important point for the Flash.
Houston Dash 4 - 2 Orlando Pride
Morgan Brian: Brian didn’t get a full 90 against Orlando, but in her 73 minutes she had some good balls over and through and provided good cover on some of the Pride’s fast breaks.
Carli Lloyd: Another assist for Lloyd, even though she started out not quite as integrated into the attacking as Brian. She adjusted her movement in the midfield quickly enough though and fed Janine Beckie to open the scoring.
Alex Morgan: Morgan drifted central and left, doing her best to feed Jasmyne Spencer throughout the game, which has become part of her transition into being a late runner and facilitator rather than singular focal point. She got a goal for the Pride off a nice set play, scoring at a steep angle and almost spurring a comeback.
Ashlyn Harris: Some good smothers and full-stretch dives to tip the ball away weren’t enough to help compensate for defensive breakdowns. There just wasn’t much she could do on Poliana’s point-blank blast or Ohai’s long-range laser.
FC Kansas City 2 - 1 Sky Blue FC
Becky Sauerbrunn: She had a fun time handling Sky Blue’s Tasha Kai and Sam Kerr, and did it well enough that FCKC was able to rally a comeback in the second half. She also managed to pick a few moments to push up through the midfield, interchanging with Desiree Scott.
Kelley O’Hara: Out with an ankle sprain after receiving a bad tackle from behind in her last game.
Portland Thorns 5 - 1 Boston Breakers
Lindsey Horan: Horan was pushed up into a more attacking position than she handles for the WNT and it definitely showed. Despite not tallying a goal herself, she was extremely dangerous in and around the box and created the handball that earned the Thorns a PK and a goal.
Allie Long: She got a goal and an assist on the day, becoming more dangerous the higher up the field she pushed.
Meghan Klingenberg: She was able to get around defenders a bit in the first half, but looked best in the second when Tobin Heath came on and they were able to combine up the left side together.
Tobin Heath: Just 27 minutes in this game for Heath, but a disruptive 27 minutes in which she switched left and right as needed. She slowed a bit near the end, but stayed in it and helped create Portland’s last goal to make it 5-1.
Emily Sonnett: A lot of calm holding and positioning from Sonnett helped keep the Portland box mostly under control. She did lose track of Julie King on the Breakers’ lone goal as she was caught watching the free kick.
Whitney Engen: Another game out of sync with the rest of the defense, reflected in the scoreline.
Chicago Red Stars 2- 2 Seattle Reign
Christen Press: She scored calmly on a penalty kick to tie the game for Chicago. Press was dropped back from the forwards as more of a 10 and helped the Red Stars eventually break out of Reign pressure to open up the game.
Julie Johnston: She got split from her fellow CB a couple of times with through balls, calling for several very agile heroics from Alyssa Naeher, but she also served some good long balls for the attackers, including helping to feed Press. She also kept it locked down to close out the game and get Chicago a point.
Alyssa Naeher: Despite the two early goals, Naeher had a belter of a game with ridiculous save after save to help preserve the tie.
Megan Rapinoe: She’s still entering as a sub, this time for 21 minutes, but was good enough to cause some havoc in the box.