Skip to content

State of the NWSL, after Week 12: Reign FC’s narratives, Rankings of Power, and a look at Week 13

Jul 3, 2013, 5:35 PM EDT

NWSL logo

If an NFL team went 0-8, we’d only watch for the train wreck. Once they broke through, we’d move on. Nobody’s interested in a 1-8 team.

But what if J.J. Watt all of a sudden appeared on their roster? And Adrian Peterson arrived a couple of weeks later? Like the record would matter, at that point. That injection of new talent on a wayward team? We’d tune in just for the spectacle.

That’s why the Seattle Reign have become must-see soccer. Midway through the season, they’ve finally added two of the league’s four most recognizable players, players whose absences had contributed to the team’s 0-9-2 first half. Hope Solo, sidelined through the season’s first two months while recovering from wrist surgery, has returned to solidify a defense that was overwhelmed through May. And Megan Rapinoe, having finished her Lyon sojourn, returned for Seattle’s draw in Rochester, the start of the team’s three-game unbeaten run.

Since Rapinoe returned, Seattle is 2-0-1.

“We’re starting to see the hard work paying off,” Seattte coach Laura Harvey told Equalizer Soccer. “We felt that we played okay in some previous games and decisions and luck hasn’t gone our way.”

That’s an understatement. Between a phantom penalty call (May 25), an out-of-character Solo error (June 9) and another phantom penalty call (June 23), Seattle recently had four points taken in aberrational circumstances. That’s not to say Seattle “should have had those points.” They did, after all, contribute to those circumstances. But it does hint Seattle’s current resurgence started before Megan Rapinoe galloped into town.

It just illustrates the fickle nature of narratives – the angles people like me choose when telling these tales. When Megan Rapinoe returns and Seattle stars getting results, it’s easy to see the correlation and think Rapinoe’s meant so much. And she’s certainly helped, but Seattle was on the verge of a breakthrough before her arrival. Any tale of Rapinoe’s illustrious contributions should note: Seattle’s been decent for a while.

It’s a shame there’s no pithy saying about correlation and causation, because it often bears reminding: They’re not the same. And while the Reign have certainly seemed to get a confidence boost from Rapinoe’s return, her performances haven’t defined Seattle’s wins. People like Christine Nairn, Jessica Fishlock, Keelin Winters and Kaylyn Kyle deserve more credit that they’re being given.

Then again, that may just be my narrative.

RANKINGS OF POWER

In reverse order. The underlying logic: Tomorrow, neutral site, who do we think is more likely to win:

8. Washington Spirit (last week: 8) – An embarrassing loss Friday at Western New York saw Mike Jorden lose his job, replaced by Mark Parsens. The move came after goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris’s post-match comments said the team lacked leadership and direction. Jorden’s response, via Equalizer Soccer: “I hope the Spirit fine her and sit her down.”

7. Chicago Red Stars (5) - A loss at Seattle sees the Red Stars lose two spots, but they’re much closer to 5 than 8 in terms of quality. They’ll be a problem tonight for Western New York.

6. Boston Breakers (6) - A Sunday win over visiting Sky Blue keeps their playoff hopes alive, but with games this week at Seattle and Portland, those hopes could be extinguished by Saturday.

5. Portland Thorns FC (4) - We could write this every week: Portland still hasn’t figured out how to replace Becky Edwards. Against Kansas City, it showed. They’re not the same team defensively, lacking somebody to protect the back line. They’re not the same offensively without that strong holder at the base of midfield. With the attack having slipped to fifth in the league, players are starting to get frustrated. There are rumblings in the house that Merritt built.

4. Seattle Reign FC (7) - It’s not an exaggeration to say two huge wins have turned the club around. The whole club.

3. Sky Blue FC (1) - Were second best in both of last week’s games, and although they got a miraculous point from FC Kansas City, their luck ran out at the boots of Sydney Leroux. They’re a rocket that’s coming back to earth.

2. FC Kansas City (4) - Two more goals from Lauren Cheney have the Blues’ midfielder running away with the MVP race. It’s not even that interesting to talk about, right now. Slightly more interesting: The comparison between her success and Christine Sinclair’s struggles.

1. Western New York Flash (2)- Carli Lloyd scored three times. Abby Wambach added two assists. And Sam Kerr wasn’t even in the country. I feel obligated to remind you: I picked this team to finish seventh.

COMING UP THIS WEEK

Wednesday, July 3

Seattle Reign vs. Boston Breakers (10:00 p.m. Eastern) - Seattle’s strength in the middle guarantees a shakey Boston defense will have to deal with Rapinoe and Nairn. Newly acquired Renae Cuellar could play, a perfect addition to an attack that lacked a true striker.

Washington Spirit vs. FC Kansas City (7:30 p.m. Eastern) – The Spirit haven’t scored since May 16, and as a team, they’ve only scored one more time than Lauren Cheney, who will miss this game and Sunday’s as she marries Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holliday. That leaves the door open for Washington to spring an upset.

Thursday, July 4

Chicago Red Stars vs. Western New York Flash (2:00 p.m. Eastern) – The teams’ last meeting ended in a draw in Chicago, but with the Flash hitting for four on Friday, Aaran Lines’ team has recaptured their momentum. Their chase for a home playoff game is on.

Saturday, July 6

Sky Blue FC vs. Washington Spirit (7:00 p.m. Eastern) – If Sky Blue’s descent has started, a visit from Washington could give them a needed boost. If they can’t win this, we’ll know they’re in trouble.

Portland Thorns FC vs. Boston Breakers (10:30 p.m. Eastern) - Depending what happens mid-week in Seattle, this may be a must-win game for the Breakers. Cindy Parlow Cone shouldn’t relish the idea of her midfield against Mariah Nogueira, Joanna Lohman, Heather O’Reilly, and Lianne Sanderson.

Sunday, July 8

Western New York Flash vs. FC Kansas City (3:10 p.m. Eastern) - It’s one versus two, per our Power Rankings. The first time Kansas City visited Rochester, they came away with their first loss of the season. The short rest between two artificial surface games could have an effect on Wambach.

Latest Posts
  1. Premier League Team of the Week: Find out who starred on Matchday 4

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:48 PM EDT

    Southampton v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    It was a week so fertile for goals that one of the world’s biggest names couldn’t dent the strike force of the PL team of the week.

  2. Premier League player of the week — Round 4

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    No one’s doing it quite like this man right now, who again takes hold of player of the week honors in the Premier League.

  3. Premier League Round 4: Goals of the week

    Sep 15, 2014, 10:37 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    There are five goals here, but it only took four matches to comprise the list.

  4. Galaxy GK Penedo wins individual honor as four clinch Gold Cup berths

    Sep 15, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Jaime Penedo AP

    Costa Rica won the tournament for the eighth time, defeating Guatemala in the final.

  5. As Pardew gets lifeline, Carragher blasts the “disgrace” at Newcastle

    Sep 15, 2014, 8:34 PM EDT

    Southampton v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    Newcastle United players and their manager have come under fire from ex-Liverpool back Jamie Carragher, who blasted the club on “Monday Night Football”

  6. Le Toux can snare second Open Cup title by beating his old club

    Sep 15, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT

    Sebastien Le Toux, Tony Beltran AP

    The Sounders have three titles and won their first win Le Toux. Soccerly hosts an essay on his quest to deny them a fourth.

  7. Anelka joins Indian Super League; Uncertainty hangs over suspension

    Sep 15, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Mumbai_City_FC

    The English FA asked FIFA to extend Anelka’s quenelle suspension beyond Britain’s borders.

  8. 1860 Munich’s lederhosen kits are absolutely bonkers

    Sep 15, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    1860-lederhosen2

    Oktoberfest begins Sept. 20, and 1860 Munich is going all-in when it comes to their away attire.

  9. Hull City 2-2 West Ham United: Debut goals a-plenty in fun draw

    Sep 15, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Abel Hernandez, Enner Valencia, Mohamed Diame and Diafra Sakho all made their presences felt on NBCSN at the KC Stadium on Monday.

  10. VIDEO: Enner Valencia blazes a shot past McGregor at the KC Stadium

    Sep 15, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT

    Hull City v West Ham United - Premier League Getty Images

    Certainly one of the goals of the early season, as West Ham continues to tempt the highlight reels despite a tough start to the season.

  11. Americans Abroad wrap: Brek Shea assists in Birmingham debut (video)

    Sep 15, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Birmingham City v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Getty Images

    Brek Shea had a loan debut to remember, while Julian Green had one to forget and both Tim Howard and Brad Guzan kept clean sheets.

  12. At the half: Record-signing Hernandez shining as Hull leads West Ham

    Sep 15, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT

    abel-hernandez_3006938

    Abel Hernandez has a goal and had another creation ruled offsides as the hosts rose to steal the first half with late heroics.

  13. Champions League preview: How will the four Premier League teams get on?

    Sep 15, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Champions League AP

    Schedules, chances of making the last 16, predictions. Your one-stop shop for all the info as the UCL group stages begins for four PL teams.

  14. Watch live: Hull City vs. West Ham United (Lineups)

    Sep 15, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Hull City v West Ham United - Premier League Getty Images

    Record-signing Abel Hernandez (Palermo) makes his Hull City debut as the Tigers look to pick up their second win of the season.

  15. Rio Ferdinand slams ex-Manchester United manager David Moyes

    Sep 15, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-MAN UTD-BAYER LEVERKUSEN Getty Images

    Ferdinand: “It killed me. Inside I wanted to scream and grab him.”

  16. Stats don’t lie: Spanish clubs almost certain of Champions League success

    Sep 15, 2014, 1:32 PM EDT

    Portugal Soccer Champions League Final AP

    All four Spanish teams are looking odds on to make it out of the group stage. What about the big clubs from England and Germany?

  17. Premier League Preview: Hull City vs. West Ham United

    Sep 15, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-LCUP-TOTTENHAM-HULL Getty Images

    All the news and quotes ahead of the Monday afternoon matchup.

  18. Premier League Playback: Manchester United shine bright like a diamond

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT

    Manchester United v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s lead writer and editor takes an alternative look at all the action from Week 4.

  19. “Cristiano Ronaldo fed up at Real Madrid” says former club president

    Sep 15, 2014, 10:34 AM EDT

    cristiano_ronaldo AP

    Calderon claims that Ronaldo is frustrated with life at Real after several high-profile exits.

  20. David Beckham issues plea to Scotland as citizens vote on independence

    Sep 15, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT

    Britain Prince William Beckham AP

    Beckham: “What unites us is much greater than what divides us. Let’s stay together.”

Featured video

Week 4: Saturday recap