Finale looms Stateside, fresh ambitions in Europe

Just two teams remain in the hunt in USA’s NWSL following the first of two weeks in the play-offs. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, it is a case of the calm before the storm with many of the major leagues on the verge of recommencing for another season. FIFA.com reviews the latest women’s club action.

USA: And then there were two
A new name will be etched on the NWSL champions’ silverware after Seattle Reign and Kansas City won their way through to next Sunday’s decider. Runaway leaders Seattle were made to work overtime before quelling the challenge of Washington Spirit, with Reign goalkeeper Hope Solo making a decisive penalty stop. Veronica Perez put Washington in front only for Seattle to draw level from the penalty spot via the familiar figure of NWSL leading goalscorer Kim Little. Solo then blocked a spot-kick from Dianne Matheson, allowing Megan Rapinoe to complete the comeback by rifling home the winner with eight minutes remaining. The other match was a more straight forward affair with home side Kansas defying the heat and a star-studded Portland Thorns’ forward line thanks to second-half goals from Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Holiday.

Norway: Leaders rediscover form
Frontrunners LSK Kvinner bounced back to winning ways following their shock defeat against Roa. Goals in either half from experienced Norway international striker Isabell Herlovsen were enough for the Lillestrom outfit to ease past Avaldsnes. Champions Stabaek kept up the pace with a routine 3-0 win over Klepp with all the goals coming inside the opening ten minutes. Roa undid some of their previous week’s good work by being held 1-1 by IK Grand Bodo.
Top three: LSK Kvinner (35 points), Stabaek (33), Roa (29)

Sweden: Lesser lights grab spotlight
Momentum in the second half of the campaign following the break has been slow to build with just two matches played over the past week. Midtable sides took a rare chance to grab the headlines with Kristianstads and Vittsjo outlasting Pitea and AIK respectively. Vittsjo may have now turned the corner following an erratic first half of the season with their 2-0 win in Stockholm. The victors dominated the game winning through goals from Scotland international Jane Ross and Emma Sjodahl, with midfielder Antonia Goransson making her second start at the club since joining from Turbine Potsdam. Focus now turns to the midweek match-up between second-placed Orebro and leaders Rosengard.
Top three: Rosengard (36), Orebro (30), Kopparbergs/Goteborg (27)

Republic of Ireland: New campaign begins
The fourth season of the women’s national league began on Sunday without the top two teams in action. Most notably champions Raheny United, fresh from a successful preliminary stage campaign in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, had their match against Castlebar Celtic postponed. Julie Ann Russell grabbed all the headlines as the seven-team competition kicked-off. The winger, who scored with a sumptuous free-kick for Republic of Ireland against Slovenia last week, Russell scored twice for UCD Waves against her hometown club Galway, only to be sent off in the dying stages for a second caution.