Skip to content

State of the NWSL, after Week 13: Leroux in the news (and the nude), Rankings of Power, and a look at Week 14

Jul 10, 2013, 5:11 PM EDT

NWSL logo

Four days in Cascadia, and all of a sudden Sydney Leroux was top of the scoring charts, the apex of what’s been a roller coaster year for the U.S. international. Her first professional season has featured hat tricks, a brief benching, controversy in her birth nation, but after a goal in Seattle and two in Portland, it also features an ongoing run as the league’s preeminent striker. Not to mention some national attention for some extra-athletic activities.

The 23-year-old was the U.S. women’s national team’s annual selection to ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, following in the footsteps of Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, and others. Put aside all the reasonable qualms you have about athletics for nudity’s sake and Leroux’s selection represents a type of professional breakthrough. It’s one thing to achieve fame among the isolated following of women’s professional soccer. There, Leroux’s akin to a household name. Among a broader audience, however, opportunities like The Body Issue represent a chance to transcend that niche demographic; a pathway to join the likes of Alex Morgan, Solo, Wambach, and Megan Rapinoe as names recognized by general sports fans.

source:  Leroux has an undeniable appeal to that audience, one that tends to skew male, away from women’s sports, and contains a population who could be lured to watch women’s soccer if they think a Solo or Morgan is playing. Nobody ever lost money betting on guys’ affinity for attractive women, but if Leroux gives that large, influential demographic a reason to tune into an NWSL stream, look up where their local team plays, or even talk about a player they were unaware of before, her layout becomes more than another excuse to confound women’s athletic achievements with sexuality.

Back in the NWSL world, things are simpler. We can look at what Leroux’s done for the Breakers – five goals in three games; matches which have claimed seven points for Boston – and see the influence of the league’s hottest player, one that’s led her team’s surge back into playoff contention.

With the latest NWSL Player of the Week award in her pocket, Leroux’s shown how important her finishing is to a resurgent Breakers’ squad.

“We need to have performances like tonight from Syd,” head coach Lisa Cole said after Boston’s 2-0 on Saturday in Portland. “Not just with her finishing but with her work off the ball, getting in and pressuring … When we can get Syd chances and she’s putting them away, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

For Leroux, her performances have been as much about Heather O’Reilly, Lianne Sanderson, and the rest of the teammates that have enabled her run. Normally that kind of attitude’s a deflection – athletes reflecting a modesty the public expects them to portray – but for a Boston team that needed results on the west coast to preserve their playoff ambitions, it needs to be about the team.

“I wouldn’t be here without my teammates,” Leroux said, asked to explain her recent surge. “Heather has assisted on so many of my goals, same with Lianne Sanderson … I’m just trying to do my job, trying to do the best that I can, and hope our team wins.”

And with the attention she’s drawn this week, both on and off the field, perhaps a few more people will follow Boston’s quest to reclaim a spot in the league’s top four.

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) – They’ve made progress since letting Mike Jorden go, but that’s progress from the four-goal defeat they suffered in their former coach’s last game. In a league where almost everybody can beat anyone, they remain the reason for the ‘almost.’

7. Portland Thorns FC (5)- The most discouraging part of their 2-0 home loss to Boston were the early jitters from a defense that couldn’t handle Boston’s pressure. If the back line goes, Portland have nothing to hang Cindy Parlow Cone’s hats on.

6. Boston Breakers (6) – After their strong week, Boston deserve better than this ranking, but the fact the Breakers can’t rise above six reflects a league which, all of a sudden, has become very deep.

5. Chicago Red Stars (7) – Perhaps I’m over valuing their win over Western New York given it played out as a rare home team’s smash-and-grab, but the Flash went into last week at number one in our rankings. The Red Stars deserve some credit for that.

4. Seattle Reign FC (4) – Seattle were probably the slightly better team in their mid-week draw with Boston, one defensive mistake-type-thing costing them two points. A midfield three of Jessica Fishlock, Keelin Winters, and Kate Deines could quickly become the league’s best.

3. Sky Blue FC (3) – Beat Washington this weekend, but failed to impress while doing so. The reason: The squad was utterly depleted, between suspensions, international duty, and injuries. Jim Gabarra had one healthy sub for the Spirit game. The returns of Lisa De Vanna, Sophie Schmidt and Caitlin Foord will help, but Monica Ocampo is out. The Mexican internationa’s shoulder injury means she will not start. She’s questionable to even play Saturday against Boston, an AC-joint injury keeping her from returning to training.

2. Western New York (1) – Finished the first half of a tough road trip with one point from Chicago and Kansas City. As they turn to Cascadia, their failure to score in either game is a bigger concern than dropping points to two strong teams.

1. FC Kansas City (2) – How do you go a week without winning and jump to the top spot? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe do it without the league’s best player. Congratulations Lauren Cheney on your nuptials. Your team, however, will be happy to have Mrs. Jrue Holiday back into the squad.

COMING UP THIS WEEK

Wednesday, July 10

Washington Spirit vs. Chicago Red Stars (7:30 p.m. Eastern) – If Chicago are serious playoff contenders, they can’t drop points to Washington. It doesn’t matter that this is on the road. It doesn’t matter that Washington’s improving. Chicago need these points. All of them.

Thursday, July 11

Seattle Reign FC vs. Western New York Flash (10:00 p.m. Eastern) – This is a tough matchup for the Flash, with Seattle’s midfield capable of cutting off access to Abby Wambach. But with Western New York more than capable of building wide or going over the top, Laura Harvey’s midfield’s going to have to do more than disrupt the game. They’re going to have to control it.

Saturday, July 13

Sky Blue FC vs. Boston Breakers (7:00 p.m. Eastern) – Boston’s current surge started with a 3-2 win over Sky Blue at Dilboy, Leroux scoring twice as the Breakers defibrillated their playoff hopes. Sky Blue will have de Vanna, Schmidt, Foord, and Brittany Bock available. They’ll be ready.

Sunday, July 14

Chicago Red Stars vs. FC Kansas City (4:00 p.m. Eastern) – Lauren Holiday is back as Kansas City hope their leading scorer will transform strong play from draws to victories. With Chicago coming off a win over Western New York, there’s reason for the Red Stars to be confident, but the Blues are capable of closing the doors on the Lori Chalupny show.

Portland Thorns FC vs. Western New York Flash (5:00 p.m. Eastern) – Alex vs. Abby! Sinclair vs. Carli! And Tobin Heath’s Portland debut. It’s as marquee a matchup as you’ll get all year, must see soccer for anybody with even a tangential interest in the women’s game.

Seattle Reign FC vs. Washington Spirit (8:30 p.m. Eastern) — So brash! So bold! So … why is FOX Soccer debuting their NWSL coverage with this game, again? I mean, who wants to see Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach in front of possibly 14,000 people at a more east coast accessible time when they can watch the league’s seventh and eighth place teams (albeit with Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe) with a night time start?

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Benteke has $50 million release clause, Liverpool ready to trigger

    May 29, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT

    It's two in two for Christian Benteke, who scored Villa's second against Liverpool Getty Images

    Aston Villa is hoping to keep the 24-year-old Belgian, who has scored 49 goals in 99 matches since coming to the England from Genk in 2012.

  2. 2014-15 Premier League season review: PST’s Player of the Season

    May 29, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    Eden Hazard, Chelsea FC Getty Images

    One man dominates our votes. He probably dominates your picks too…

  3. Al-Hussein, Blatter address voters ahead of presidential election; First vote coming

    May 29, 2015, 11:06 AM EDT

    FIFA President Sepp Blatter walks past challenger for the FIFA presidency, FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al Hussein (below,L) and UEFA President Michel Platini (below,R) during the opening of the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29, 2015. FIFA president Sepp Blatter heads into a re-election vote amid FIFA's corruption scandal on May 29, 2015. "We need to fix FIFA right now"  Sepp Blatter told members of world football's governing body on May 29. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein and Sepp Blatter have addressed voters ahead of Friday’s presidential election, and we’re onto the vote.

  4. Taking a look at the United States’ U-20 World Cup roster

    May 29, 2015, 10:23 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptu2n2vkmzzjntc5nzcymgzjmzblntg0ztk1zwnkzjq3 AP

    The United States kicks off its U-20 World Cup run with a match against Myanmar at Midnight, and will look to emerge from a relatively winnable group with Ukraine and hosts New Zealand.

  5. Spurs add established 22-year-old Austrian defender from Bundesliga

    May 29, 2015, 9:09 AM EDT

    WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - DECEMBER 20: Kevin De Bruyne (L) of Wolfsburg and Kevin Wimmer of Koeln vie during the Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and 1. FC Koeln at Volkswagen Arena on December 20, 2014 in Wolfsburg, Germany.  (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Bongarts/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The once-capped Austrian played club ball with LASK Linz in his home country until 2012.

  6. FIFA convention, presidential election resume after bomb threat delay

    May 29, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT

    ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MAY 29:  A general view as FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter talks during the 65th FIFA Congress at the Hallenstadion on May 29, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    Thankfully, the anonymous threat led to nothing, though it’s worth noting the media wasn’t immediately told there was danger.

  7. Reports: Southampton reject $15m bid for Clyne, Liverpool to raise offer

    May 29, 2015, 7:53 AM EDT

    Nathaniel Clyne, Southampton FC Nathaniel Clyne, Southampton FC

    Manchester United is among the other clubs said to be targeting Clyne, but the back is said to prefer Liverpool.

  8. MLS preview: Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas, Revolution vs. Galaxy headline Week 13

    May 29, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT

    Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy

    Week 13 of the 2015 MLS season is here! What games are must-watch this weekend?

  9. U-20 World Cup preview: The groups, the favorites, USA outlook and the game’s future stars

    May 28, 2015, 11:13 PM EDT

    Previews - FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 Previews - FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015

    The U-20 World Cup kicks off late Thursday night (US time). Get yourself caught up on what — and who — to watch.

  10. Carlo Ancelotti weighing offer to return to AC Milan

    May 28, 2015, 8:52 PM EDT

    Carlo Ancelotti, AC Milan Getty Images

    Landing Ancelotti would be the best thing AC Milan have done in years.

  11. Gulati: U.S. Soccer will vote for Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein in FIFA election, not Sepp Blatter

    May 28, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer & FIFA ExCo Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer & FIFA ExCo

    Sunil Gulati is putting his not only talking the talk, but walking the walk, with regard to much-needed reform in world soccer.

  12. Men in Blazers podcast: Talking FIFA corruption arrests, Sepp Blatter with Bob Ley

    May 28, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Bob Ley joins the Men in Blazers to talk about the FIFA arrests and decades of corruption inside world football’s governing body.

  13. 2014-15 Premier League season review: Summer transfer needs

    May 28, 2015, 4:56 PM EDT

    Paul Pogba — coming to a Premier League club near you? Paul Pogba — coming to a Premier League club near you?

    With the 2014-15 season in the books, clubs are already busy making moves for next season. Where should each club focus their efforts (and $$$)?

  14. VIDEO: PST Extra reviews the 2014-15 Premier League season

    May 28, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptvjymezzthmmziwodq1mjnmmmzlmdljnmi5ztrlzjky AP

    Going over the highs and lows, the surprises and disappointments, plus much more from the PL season that was, here’s the latest PST Extra.

  15. Premier League 2014-15 review – Top 10 games of the season

    May 28, 2015, 2:33 PM EDT

    Costa scored twice, as USA's Howard let in six on Saturday. AP

    Remember these 10 matches from the 2014-15 season? Here’s highlights from them all.

  16. By the numbers: 2014-15 Premier League season in review

    May 28, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT

    Burnley v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

    Burnley and Chelsea will find their names often amongst the top stat men in the Premier League this season.

  17. Steven Gerrard set to make LA Galaxy debut on July 11

    May 28, 2015, 12:57 PM EDT

    Liverpool legend will be heading to California soon, says Bruce Arena.

  18. Sepp Blatter transcript in full; admits “shame and humiliation” of FIFA scandal

    May 28, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT

    65th FIFA Congress - Opening Ceremony Getty Images

    FIFA’s long-time president has addressed the congress in Zurich about the shocking allegations of corruption.

  19. UEFA could leave FIFA if Blatter stays on, as support for Prince Ali grows

    May 28, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT

    UEFA to discuss possibility of walking away from FIFA in Berlin next month.

Featured video

PST Extra reviews the 2014-15 season