NWSL Week Nine Power Rankings: Flash Bang

Records are listed W-L-D

1. Western New York Flash 4-2-2 previously 2

Last week: Draw at Boston 2-2; won at Sky Blue 3-0

Next week: at Washington

Perhaps the 3-0 scoreline overstated how the game played out, but when you go on the road and beat the team that topped these rankings for the last three weeks in any kind of 3-0 game, you've earned the top spot. The Flash are 4-0-1 over their last five and look to be the team that nobody wants to play right now. Abby Wambach is in impressive form.

2. Sky Blue FC 7-2-1 previously 1

Last week: lost at home 3-0 vs. Flash

Next week: at Boston

After reeling off five straight wins, Sky Blue lost to the Flash for the second time this year. Despite the disappointment, the team still finds themselves atop the table with an impressive 22 points through 10 games and the league best in both goals for and against. Perhaps Sky Blue suffered all their bad luck in one ugly game, and will go on another impressive run of wins. Or maybe their rivals from Rochester have their number. Maybe both. The teams play for a fourth and final time July 21, though a fifth meeting in the playoffs seems almost likely.

3. Portland Thorns 7-2-1 previously 4

Last week: beat Kansas City 4-3 in Portland

Next week: home vs. Seattle

Portland followed their zombie-like Chicago performance with perhaps their best game of the year. They played FCKC as though it were the championship. While no one gives up three goals in a perfect game, playing hard and making mistakes was none the less a significant improvement over the effort shown the week prior. Portland's international players returned and hosted some soul-searching team meetings which had the desired effect on the pitch. Should Portland play with that type of effort consistently, they will be an extremely difficult team to beat. And Alex Morgan is playing like a woman possessed. This week Portland will be down three players and will see if the good form can continue without their leaders.

4. FC Kansas City 4-3-1 previously 3

Last week: Lost at Portland 4-3; won at Seattle 1-0

Next week: hosts Chicago

The Blues' travels to the Pacific Northwest last week must leave them with a bitter taste. They played at an extremely high level at Portland, only to receive back the Thorns' best effort to date. KC conceded four, lost their star striker Renae Cuellar to a sprained ankle, and came away with participation ribbons. Cuellar's knock wasn't one of those bad luck, “landed funny” kind of injuries, either. Rachel Buehler went all “number one fan” on Cuellar's right foot just as she was winding up for a blast on goal.

Kansas City proceeded north to the welcoming atmosphere in Tukwila where they put up a poor effort and were outplayed by the Reign. However, Erika Tymrak scored her second goal this season (and second of the week) as the Blues escaped with a 1-0 win and 3 big points. Now they go home, lose a bunch of players to international call-ups, and face a Chicago side with a bounce in their step. Kansas City needs the win.

5. Boston Breakers 3-3-3 previously 5

Last week: Draw at home to Flash 2-2; lost at Chicago 1-0

Next week: hosts Sky Blue

Unthinkable just a few weeks ago, the Breakers are in danger of falling out of the top five. Credit Chicago for winning two in a row, but Boston clearly has no consistency. After a hard fought draw to the Flash in which Boston conceded in extra time, the disappointment carried over to the game in Chicago where the should-be-dangerous Boston attack managed nothing. Opponents certainly can't take Boston lightly, but every now and then, you're going to get a side that just won't show up. Boston is now just 1-3-2 in their last six.

6. Chicago Red Stars 2-4-2 previously 6

Last week: beat Boston 1-0 at home

Next week: at FCKC

Well, well, well. Chicago is now 2-0-0 in June with two clean sheets. Lori Chalupny netted her third of the season as the Red Stars upset Boston at home. The notion that Chicago could push toward that final playoff spot doesn't seem as preposterous as it did through May. Chicago goes to 4th place Kansas City this week with the chance to eat in to that 5-point deficit. FCKC will be down several key players to international duty, a situation similar to the one the Stars took advantage of last week at Portland.

7. Washington Spirit 1-4-3 previously 7

Last week: idle

Next week: home vs. Flash

Nothing like having three full weeks off in the middle of the season, huh? The Spirit last had a game May 25th. I'm sure there was a reason for this scheduling oddity, but I just can't fathom what it was. The Spirit reconvene this week just in time for an international break.

8. Seattle Reign 0-8-1 previously 8

Last week: lost at home to FCKC 1-0

Next week: at Portland

Between Saturday and Tuesday, 100,000+ people will attend soccer games in Seattle. Just 1,800 of those fans attended Seattle's home game Sunday as the Reign continued their snake-bit season with a disheartening 1-0 loss. Seattle waited patiently for Hope Solo to join the squad, and now is on the brink of having Megan Rapinoe suit up, which she is scheduled to do after the USA international games against South Korea next week. The burning question is whether it's too late.

Seattle finished their four game homestand with 0 points, but the last two of those games were narrow 1-0 defeats against top teams in which Seattle felt hard done. A widely disagreed-with penalty led to Portland's one goal, and then a howler by Solo led to FCKC's lone score. If the Reign have any confidence left, it might be justified. Should Seattle get a win at Portland while the Thorns are missing three international stars, they would be welcoming Rapinoe while on their best run of the year.

Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.

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