The penultimate round of games in the NWSL left the major issues undecided, while competition was renewed in Japan following a mid-season break. In Europe, a famous old club is calling the shots in Germany, with the new French league season also getting under way.
Late drama guaranteed
With one matchday left in the regular NWSL season, there is more than one team with unfinished business to attend to. Leading the way from Portland Thorns at the top of the table, Washington Spirit could have made the NWSL Shield theirs had they beaten Seattle Reign on Monday. The Germantown club came up short against the Reign, however, losing 2-0 to give their Oregon rivals the chance to cut the gap between them to one point, which they did with a nervy 3-2 home win over Western New York Flash. After shooting into a 3-0 lead, courtesy of goals from Nadia Nadim, Christine Sinclair and Dagyn Brynjarsdottir, Portland allowed the visitors back into the game and were relieved to close out a victory that clinches them a home play-off berth.
That loss dented New York’s hopes of taking the fourth and last play-off place, with Chicago Red Stars having already taken the third. Fifth-placed Seattle’s defeat of the leaders cut the gap between them and the Flash to two points. In the final round of games, the New Yorkers need just a draw from their meeting with Boston Breakers to make the play-offs, while Seattle must beat Houston Dash and hope the Flash slip up.
Top three: Washington Spirit (39 pts), Portland Thorns (38), Chicago Red Stars (30)
Potsdam are back
An institution of German women’s football, Turbine Potsdam have endured some hard times of late in the Bundesliga, and finished last season in an unimpressive seventh place. Following 45 years of loyal service, coach Bernd Schroder decided to retire at the end of last term, with former assistant Matthias Rudolph taking over from him. The new man has made a fine start to his tenure, overseeing Turbine’s impressive 3-0 home defeat of 1. FFC Frankfurt, one of the outstanding performances on matchday two of the 2016/17 season. Cheered on by a crowd of 1,821, the Potsdam club eased to a famous victory over one of their oldest rivals thanks to goals from Laura Lindner, Tabea Kemme and Svenja Huth. While Turbine powered to the top of the table, reigning champions Bayern Munich and last season’s runners-up VfL Wolfsburg posted their first wins of the season courtesy of respective 1-0 and 2-0 defeats of Jena and Bayer Leverkusen. The big two now have four points each to their name. Meanwhile, Wolfsburg’s Olympic champion Alexandra Popp was named Germany’s Women’s Player of the Year.
Top three: Turbine Potsdam (6), SGS Essen (6), SC Freiburg (4)
*Japanese league resumes *Japan’s footballers sprang back into action after their three-month break, with reigning champions NTV Beleza hitting their stride immediately with a 3-0 defeat of INAC Kobe Leonessa. Vegalta Sendai made the most of Parceiro Nagano’s 3-2 reverse at home to JEF United, moving level with them in second place thanks to a 2-1 home win over Albirex Niigata. *
Top three: NTV Beleza (29), Vegalta Sendai (22), Parceiro Nagano (22)*
City stay strong
FA Women’s Super League leaders Manchester City edged out third-placed Arsenal thanks to Jane Ross’s solitary strike six minutes after half-time. Chelsea stayed seven points behind the frontrunners in second following their 3-0 defeat of Reading.
Top three: Manchester City (38), Chelsea (31), Arsenal (23)
Barcelona lead the way, French season up and running
Barcelona continued their impressive start in the Spanish league, making it two wins out of two so far by putting six goals past Santa Teresa without reply. Valencia Feminas also have six points to their name but lie second on goal difference, having scored seven goals to Barcelona’s ten, with both sides having yet to concede. Finally, the French league season began with the three main title candidates all making winning starts. While Lyon cruised to a 9-0 win over Soyaux, Montpellier romped to a 5-0 victory at Metz and Paris Saint-Germain hit four without reply against ASPTT Albi.