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Everything’s coming up Reign: week 5 in NWSL

The first nil-nil game of the year, Orlando finally gets a win, and more.

Seattle Reign FC 6 - 2 Washington Spirit

Do yourself a favor and start the week with a smile by rewatching highlights of Nahomi Kawasumi’s masterful dismantling of the Spirit defense.

With the massive victory, Seattle moves to 2-1-2 and eight points on the season, jumping from sixth to secondnd place thanks in part to their league-leading +5 goal differential. Washington falls to 1-3-1 and drops one spot to 10th place.

Seattle hosts Orlando next Sunday, while the Spirit and new signee Mal Pugh return home to face FCKC.

Houston Dash 1 - 3 Sky Blue FC

Sam Kerr stepped up for Sky Blue with an impressive performance, winning a penalty, contributing an assist to Leah Galton on a beautiful scoring sequence, and finishing the night with a goal of her own.

The Dash attack looked lifeless through the first half but improved dramatically in the second, and was particularly ignited after Andressa entered the match midway through the second half. Kealia Ohai brought the home side within a goal in the 76th minute before Kerr’s dagger with three minutes remaining.

Sky Blue improves to 2-2-1 and jumps past Houston to move from eighth to sixth place, while the Dash sit at 2-3-0 and fall two spots to seventh place.

Next week is a nationally televised rematch in New Jersey.

FC Kansas City 0 - 0 Portland Thorns FC

Portland entered this match hot on the heels of North Carolina, and had they won against a fairly toothless FCKC side, they could have caught the Courage next week. Instead we were treated to the first nil-nil draw of the season in a bland game where neither side could build any sustained offensive pressure. Each side ended up with a pair of shots on target, with the most dangerous look coming from FCKC in the 65th minute, when Sydney Leroux scooped up a bad ball from Emily Sonnett and launched a shot toward the lower corner, but Adrianna Franch was up to the challenge and pushed it aside. Beyond that opportunity, both defenses shined in this game.

Portland moves to 2-1-2 but falls one spot to third due to goal differential, while FCKC is 1-2-2, and also drops one spot to eighth.

FCKC travels to Washington next week, while Portland visits Boston for a Friday night match.

Chicago Red Stars 1 - 1 Boston Breakers

In another match that had big implications for where the Reign ended the weekend in the standings, two teams that each could have jumped Seattle and moved into second place instead battled to a draw and split the points. This was a goalkeepers’ duel through the first hour, with Alyssa Naeher and Abby Smith both coming up with big saves to keep the score at zeroes.

Rose Lavelle broke through for Boston in the 69th minute that started with a nice sequence featuring her dribbling from box to box, ending with a shot through traffic that caught Naeher completely by surprise.

Soon thereafter the Breakers were called for a back pass about 10 yards from goal, and fans were treated to the unusual sight of an 11-player wall. Despite the chaos the defense held strong, with Natasha Dowie successfully deflecting the ensuing Christen Press shot.

After knocking at the door all night and having two other shots saved, Press finally equalized for the Red Stars in the 89th minute, heading the ball home off an excellent cross into the box from Sofia Huerta.

Chicago and Boston are now each 2-2-1, and each team dropped one spot in the standings due to Seattle’s big jump: the Red Stars to 5th, and the Breakers to 4th.

Chicago is at North Carolina next Sunday, while Boston returns home to face Portland on Friday.

Orlando Pride 3 - 1 North Carolina Courage

In the battle between basement dwellers and top of the table, it was Orlando who came away with the surprise win as the Courage conceded goals for only the second game this season. Although both sides looked dangerous throughout the game, most of the scoring occurred in a wild three-minute flurry early in the second half. Orlando notched two goals in quick succession — Chioma Ubogagu got on the end of a cross from Ali Krieger in the 49th minute, and Camila followed that with a goal of her own on a fast break a minute later — but the Courage quickly responded with a goal from their Brazilian forward, Debinha, in the 51st minute. Substitute Jasmyne Spencer completed the scoring in the 82nd minute off an assist from Marta for Orlando’s first win and first multi-goal game of the season.

Orlando improves to 1-2-2 and passes the Spirit for ninth place, while the Courage fall to 4-1-0, but remain safety at the top of the table and can’t be caught for at least two more weeks.

Orlando travels to Seattle on Sunday evening, while the Courage return home to face Chicago.

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