The Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 is about to take centre stage, but jostling for supremacy remains ongoing in numerous top leagues across the globe. *FIFA.com *takes a look at USA, England and Sweden where several big names stumbled, while there is also news from Finland and Russia.
USA: Dash and Spirit on the charge
Numerous international players were again absent as preparations for Rio 2016 continue, but struggling Houston Dash returned to form in the best way imaginable by securing a 3-0 win over high-flying Portland Thorns at home. The win kept alive their outside hopes of finals football and also ended a remarkable run of six straight 1-0 defeats. The result was equally unlikely for Portland who suffered a second straight loss, having remained undefeated throughout the opening dozen matches of the campaign. The result was a perfect outcome for Washington Spirit who joined the Thorns at the top, but with two games in hand. In-form Argentinian Estefania Banini claimed a brace and Joanna Lohman scored her fourth of the season to lift the Spirit to a hard-fought 3-2 win over defending NWSL champions FC Kansas City.
Western New York Flash lost their grip on top spot when they were held to a 1-1 away draw by a strong Seattle Reign line-up. A goal on the stroke of half-time from the league’s second highest scorer, Jessica McDonald, was enough to restore parity for the Flash after Netherlands’ veteran forward Manon Melis opened the scoring early on for the home side. Chicago Red Stars stayed in touch with the leading trio thanks to a lone goal from Taylor Comeau against Orlando Pride in storm-delayed match in Florida.
*Top three: Portland Thorns, Washington Spirit (both 26 points), Western New York Flash (25) *
*England: Gunners give Chelsea the blues *Arsenal gained bragging rights over ambitious London rivals Chelsea, with Netherlands international Danielle van de Donk securing an against-the-odds winner with six minutes remaining as the Gunners completed a 2-1 comeback win. The win moves Arsenal to third, two points behind Chelsea and three adrift of leaders Manchester City, who sat out the weekend. Birmingham City are well positioned in fourth following a late 1-0 win over the visiting Sunderland.
*Top three: Manchester City (20), Chelsea (19), Arsenal (17) *
*Sweden: Champs stumble *The mid-season break for Sweden’s Damallsvenskan arrived with Rosengard on top, but Linkopings are well placed to overhaul their rivals in what is clearly a two-horse race. The leaders escaped with a 2-2 home draw against Djurgardens, thanks only to a late equaliser from Lotta Schelin on debut following her recent transfer from European champions Lyon. Rosengard advanced a point clear of Linkopings, though the latter have a match in hand. Eskilstuna United pushed their way into third with their 2-0 win over Umea based around a double from Marija Banusic.
*Top three: Rosengard (35), Linkopings (34), Eskilstuna (19) *
*Elsewhere *PK-35 Vantaa stretched their lead in *Finland *to nine points with a 3-1 win at Pallokissat. PK-35 remain well placed for a sixth title in seven years as second-placed TPS Turku crashed to a 5-2 loss at HJK Helsinki. It is a similar story in *Russia *where Rossiyanka are 11 points clear and set to claim the title for the first time since 2012. They were, however, held to a scoreless draw at Chertanovo on the weekend, while second-placed Ryazan shared a 3-3 draw at CSKA Moscow.