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Thorns Down Under: Chaos Ensues

W-League Rd 11 - Perth v Sydney
Caitlin Foord challenges Perth Glory defender Kim Carroll.
Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

The league, as they say, is upside down. The two bottom teams coming into the week both beat teams in the top four, both scoring incredible goals. There’s a very real danger of Australian football’s most talented and marketable star, Sam Kerr, not making the playoffs. It’s exhilarating. Even the NWSL, a very competitive league, would find it difficult to come up with a week as wild as this one.

Newcastle Jets 1, Adelaide United 2

Adelaide United, a team that had only one win to its name the whole season before this, a team that had 6 goals dumped on them by Canberra last week, went and knocked off second-placed Newcastle in Newcastle on the back of an amazing free kick in the 20th minute from Chicago Red Stars midfielder Danielle Colaprico.

Britt Eckerstrom didn’t have too many saves to make, as Adelaide’s two goals were their only shots on target, and the goals can hardly be blamed on her—two players were unmarked at the back post on a corner for the second goal, and there was no keeping out Colaprico’s free kick.

In the attack, Newcastle just looked listless. Hannah Brewer was being asked to cover a lot of ground, repeatedly switching flanks and not getting the opportunity to deliver the quality service from deep that she had provided in previous games. Emily Van Egmond looked frustrated and tried to force a few too many 50-yard passes.

On the other side, Adelaide looked sharp and up for the challenge. North Carolina Courage striker Makenzy Doniak was lively up top. Young midfielder Alexandra Chidiac was another big story in this match, looking ready for the big stage despite a tough season for Adelaide where she’s had a lot of responsibilities. There’s something to be said for the way the Australian league has consistently provided opportunities for young players to prove themselves alongside and against the best players in the country, which surely is a significant factor in their national team’s rise to fourth in the FIFA world rankings. It’ll be a hot topic of conversation when they inevitably knock the USWNT out of the World Cup in the semifinals.

Canberra United 2, Western Sydney Wanderers 0 (not televised)

Ashleigh Sykes continued her return from injury, playing most of the match and earning an assist as her teammate and all-time league top scorer Michelle Heyman hit the back of the net in her 100th W-League game. It’s an achievement that Sykes hit earlier in the season, and a particularly impressive one given regular seasons are only 14 games long in this league. The result continues Canberra’s impressive recent run, leaving them just one point off the playoff spots with a game in hand.

Perth Glory 0, Sydney FC 2 (not televised)

Sydney FC survived the absence of Emily Sonnett to keep Sam Kerr and Perth Glory off the scoreboard for the second straight week. New Thorn Caitlin Foord (who, annoyingly, won’t be on television for another two weeks) got in a few shots and reportedly was a major part of Sydney’s attacking play in her role as a center forward.

I highly recommend anyone interested in what her game is like to look at the previous week’s game against Newcastle: she likes to drop deep, run with the ball and make great passes onto onrushing wide players. She looks a good fit for a team full of midfield runners from deep, which Sydney is a little short of, but Portland is flush with.

Brisbane Roar (bye)

Hayley Raso and Celeste Boureille took the week off.

And although no Thorns played in the Melbourne derby, it would be remiss of me not to include Melina Ayers’ 35-yard strike against Melbourne City, her second world-beater in two weeks:

Next Week

Melbourne City host top club Brisbane Roar as they attempt to solidify their suddenly tenuous-looking foothold in the playoff spots. Boureille again gets a chance to square off against a midfield full of talent, including the Seattle Reign’s Jess Fishlock, and Raso will be spending some time in footraces against Orlando Pride’s Steph Catley.

Offscreen, Perth Glory host Canberra United in a playoff six-pointer for the two teams just knocking on the door of fourth place. Sykes will have to play a big role in driving her team to the finish line for them to make it into the top four.

Meanwhile, Sydney FC take a well-timed bye and wait patiently for Emily Sonnett to return from international duty.