Records are listed W-L-D
1. Sky Blue FC 5-1-1 previously 4
Last week I bumped the Western New York Flash up to #2 because they had earned the most impressive victory in the 2013 NWSL season to date by winning at Kansas City. Well, Sky Blue just out-did their Flashian rivals by going to Portland Thursday night and shutting down the “OMG it's so unfair” Portland attack.
Jersey spent the week in the Pacific Northwest and received six points and a place tied at the top of the table for their efforts. By moving Kelley O'Hara from forward to left back, Sky Blue put their chips on their allocated players being able to stop Portland's allocated players, and it worked brilliantly. Christie Rampone was a force as she led her defense to a clean sheet, and perhaps most impressively, simply made the Thorns look out-matched.
Sky Blue then closed out the weekend with an impressive win at the punchless Reign. They won 3-0 and missed a penalty that could have made it even worse. Next week, SBFC closes out their three game trip with a game at Kansas City which gives them another opportunity for another huge road win.
2. Portland Thorns 5-1-1 previously 1
A tale of two teams. Portland is 5-0-0 against the bottom three of the table, but just 0-1-1 against the rest of the top five. This week, the Thorns finally returned home with their top position and a chance for another six points. They earned three.
On Thursday, Sky Blue visited Portland and produced a defensive effort that frustrated the Thorns and left Portland's vaunted attacking players flailing. The Thorns could not break down Sky Blue either with clever passing or with individual efforts. They tried both. Over and over again.
Portland rebounded Sunday with the type of dominating performance we've come to expect from them, beating Washington 2-0. We have yet to see how the Thorns will look when the June decimations come around, but we do now know that Portland's place as the number one seed in the playoffs is far from guaranteed.
The Thorns will spend this week at their Pacific Northwest rivals, Seattle on Saturday. I fully expect the traveling Riveters to make more noise than the entire Reign home crowd.
3. Western New York Flash 2-2-1 previously 2
The Flash had the week off to bask in the glow of their tremendous performance at FCKC. They host the listless Red Stars Friday in a game I expect the Flash to dominate.
4. FC Kansas City 3-1-1 previously 3
It seems harsh to drop a spot after a convincing win, but Sky Blue's gain pushed KC down a bit despite KC's solid win over Boston. Kansas City still really, really feels like a contender for the #1 seed in the playoffs, but unlike WNY & Jersey, they have yet to post that undeniably convincing win. Should FCKC back up the result over the Breakers with a win Saturday against Sky Blue, it seems likely they'll move up, even without having proven themselves on the road.
Renae Cuellar & Lauren Cheney again led the way for KC like the tip of a preposterously long spear. Their depth could give them the advantage during June.
5. Boston Breakers 2-1-2 previously 5
Boston was frustrated Saturday at Kansas City, falling 2-0. They return home this week to face Washington, which would be a fantastic get well tonic for any of the top teams, except, coincidentally, Boston. This will be the Spirit & Breakers third meeting in the young season, and the two have split the points in each of their first two.
6. Washington Spirit 1-3-3 previously 6
Washington spent the week playing two games in the Pacific Northwest. On Thursday, they put up 4 goals (out of their 9 on the season) in a win in Tukwila, Washington. It was the Spirit's first victory, and made a terrific statement separating themselves from the worst teams in the league.
But Sunday brought the Spirit back to a recurring reality. For the second time this season, Washington played Portland and were patently outclassed, this time dropping a 2-0 decision despite Ali Krieger and Lori Lindsey's best efforts.
Saturday, Washington plays Boston for the third time this season, and hope to get a positive result once again.
7. Chicago Red Stars 0-3-2 previously 7
The Red Stars had the week off and look forward to their two game road trip at Western New York and Portland, which gives them an opportunity to move out of the basement and earn some respect around these parts. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely.
8. Seattle Reign 0-6-1 previously 8
Seattle's week with two games at home gave them a genuine chance to move out of the basement. “Missed opportunities” has so far been the defining theme of Seattle's season, and we watched it happen again. Twice. Lost 4-2. Lost 3-0. In a league where all eight teams were designed to be loaded, Seattle got left out. Their three USWNT allocated players have yet to suit up for the Reign, and without them, Seattle is simply outclassed.
The Reign have both the league's worst goals for (0.57) and the worst goals against (2.14) in addition to only claiming one point in seven games (0.14 ppg).
Perhaps June – the month when all NWSL clubs will be without their allocated players – will prove to be beneficial for the Reign, who will be the only team left whole. Additionally the Seattle FO has their internet streaming going very smoothly, so Thorns fans have that to look forward to for next week's big game.