BY CANDY PARKER
National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action continued over the weekend with Boston, Portland, Seattle and Washington earning wins.
Saturday featured two contests with the Washington Spirit traveling to Chicago to face the Red Stars and the Portland Thorns FC hosting FC Kansas City in their home opener.
In the first game, Chicago battled both the Spirit and gusty winds throughout much of the first half, unable to convert their aggressive offensive attack to goals. Chicago’s best first-half scoring opportunity came in stoppage time when midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo played a ball across the box to Adriana Leon who blasted a left-footed shot that drifted just inches wide of the upright.
The game’s only goal came in the 50th minute when Washington capitalized on a corner kick. Danesha Adams played a cross toward the goal and the Spirit’s Tori Huster, alone near the center of the goal, netted a header to give the visitors the 1-0 lead.
The second half was a physical battle, with Washington earning three yellow cards and the Red Stars one in the hard fought contest. Despite the determined play by Chicago, Washington held on for the win.
Washington Spirit vs. Chicago Red Stars highlights
In Saturday’s second match-up, Portland downed Kansas City 3-1, with the Thorns’ Allie Long and Jessica McDonald each playing key roles in the victory.
The regular season home opener for the Thorns featured two goals from McDonald and a goal and assist from Long. Portland goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was also impressive in front of the home crowd, registering six saves. Forward Lauren Holiday, the 2013 NWSL Most Valuable Player, scored the lone goal for Kansas City in the losing effort.
Before the contest, the returning Portland players received their 2013 NWSL championship rings and the team unveiled a banner at Providence Park to commemorate the achievement.
Kansas City FC vs. Portland Thorns FC highlights
Sunday saw two matches, as the Boston Breakers hosted Sky Blue FC and the Houston Dash visited the league-leading Seattle Reign FC.
Boston earned their first win of the 2014 season in front of a home crowd at Harvard Stadium Sunday evening. The Breakers’ Julie King struck first at the 15’ mark, but after Sky Blue evened it up on a goal from Monica Ocampo in the 30th minute it was Boston’s Lianne Sanderson who secured the win with goals at 43’ and 60’. Ashley Nick added a goal for Sky Blue late in second-half stoppage time to pull within one, but ultimately fell short in the contest.
Sky Blue FC vs. Boston Breakers highlights
In the weekend’s final match-up Seattle shut out the Dash 2-0 to maintain their place atop the early NWSL season standings. Seattle is now 3-0-0 with a two-point lead over Portland (2-0-1).
Kim Little’s two first-half goals were enough to secure the win as Reign and USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo fended off three shots on goal from Houston. Little now leads the NWSL with four goals.
The Reign’s first goal came on a penalty kick after forward Sydney Leroux was taken down inside the box by Dash midfielder Becky Edwards. Little took the shot and confidently drilled the shot past goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
Seattle’s second goal came when Bev Goebel split the Dash backline with a pass that Little sent into the net in the 38th minute.
Houston Dash vs. Seattle Reign FC highlights
Finally, in late breaking news Monday, the NWSL announced that the league had suspended Western New York Flash midfielder Carli Lloyd for two games for use of excessive force in an April 19 incident involving Chicago Red Stars’ midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo. Lloyd will sit out the next two matches in which is she available to play.
“My action in the game against the Chicago Red Stars was not acceptable and is inexcusable,” said Lloyd. “I am very disappointed in myself and this is a lesson I will learn from. I want to apologize to Vanessa, the Red Stars, my teammates, the Western New York Flash organization and the NWSL fans.”
The suspension stems from an incident in which Lloyd appeared to strike DiBernardo in the face in first-half stoppage time after tugging on the Red Stars rookie’s jersey.
Upcoming games in the NWSL:
Wednesday, April 30
Seattle Reign FC at Sky Blue FC
Chicago Red Stars at FC Kansas City
Saturday, May 3
Seattle Reign FC at Washington Spirit
Portland Thorns FC at Western New York Flash
Boston Breakers at Sky Blue FC
FC Kansas City at Houston Dash