The inaugural National Women’s Soccer League season is set for a thrilling conclusion after some intriguing action on the penultimate weekend. The title races in Sweden and England seem to be following familiar patterns with a pair of teams in each league continuing to shine, while the final two seeking cup glory in New Zealand has been determined.
USA: And then there were two
Portland Thorns and Western New York Flash will shape up in the maiden NWSL decider this weekend after the pair progressed in contrasting fashion. Portland needed extra time to end the 2013 ambitions of a Kansas City side who had led the competition for much of the season. Midfielder Allie Long struck the decisive goal as Portland, without injured star forward Alex Morgan, completed a stunning comeback having been two goals down at the half-hour mark. Western New York Flash, who a week earlier had edged into top spot on the final day of the league campaign, had Carli Lloyd to thank, with the star USA midfielder scoring in each half to down New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC. Champions in the final season of the now defunct Women’s Professional Soccer, the Rochester-based Flash will host Saturday’s final.
England: Goal-hungry duo state intentions
A two-way showdown between leaders Liverpool and reigning champions Arsenal continues to build with the pair scoring one-sided wins in the only two Women’s Super League games played over the past week. Arsenal eased into second place on the ladder at the expense of Bristol Academy thanks to a 6-0 win at Doncaster Rovers Belles on Wednesday, with Danielle Carter netting a brace. It was a similar story three days later as Liverpool put nine unanswered goals past the same opponent at the same Keepmoat Stadium. Natasha Dowie fired home a brilliant hat-trick, with Fara Williams twice on the scoresheet as the Reds maintained their five point advantage over the Gunners, having played two extra matches.
Top three: Liverpool (24 points), Arsenal (19), Bristol Academy (18)
Sweden: Big-name Tyreso continue to rebound
Champions Tyreso continued their fine form since losing to title rivals Malmo earlier in the month by beating Jitex 5-0. The star-studded list of goalscorers – Christen Press (two), Veronica Boquete, Lisa Dahlkvist and Caroline Seger – was ample evidence of Tyreso’s strength in depth. The win puts Tyreso back in front of Malmo who will play a match in hand on Wednesday. However, it was Orebro that were weekend’s top goalscorers in securing a 6-0 win over Sunnana, with Nigerian Sarah Michael scoring a treble and Finland international Sanna Talonen grabbing a double.
Top three: Tyreso (34), Malmo (33), Kopparbergs/Goteborg (26)
New Zealand: Cup final showdown looms
Coastal Spirit and Glenfield Rovers will meet in New Zealand’s national cup final next month after posting victories over Seatoun AFC and Claudelands Rovers respectively, in what will be a repeat of the 2011 final. Coastal Spirit are eyeing a league and cup double after running out comfortable 4-0 winners in Christchurch, with Chloe Webster scoring twice. Not to be outdone, Glenfield Rovers matched that scoreline against Claudelands a day later in Hamilton.