NWSL wrap: Kerr at the double for Chicago

Sam Kerr has gone to the top of the scoring charts in the National Women’s Soccer League to help put her Chicago Red Stars in the box seat to secure a playoff spot.

Westfield Matildas Hayley Raso and Kyah Simon also made telling contributions for their clubs as the NWSL surges towards an epic climax.

READ: Westfield Matilda finds new home in Westfield W-League

Here’s a wrap of how some of our America-based Aussies fared over the weekend in the NWSL.

Orlando Pride 1-3 Chicago Red Stars

The Red Stars now look favourites to seal the final spot in the playoffs after Kerr inspired them to a crucial win in Orlando, which ended the Pride’s finals hopes.

Kerr was in impressive form for the visitors, scoring two goals and setting up Chicago’s other goal as they extended their unbeaten run to six matches.

The 24-year-old’s double takes her season tally to 14, two clear of the chasing pack at the top of the golden boot standings.

Kerr’s first goal came a minute before the break when she raced onto a clever flick and finished superbly, before teeing up teammate Vanessa DiBernardo with an unselfish cutback in first-half stoppage time.

The irrepressible Aussie then made it 3-0 on the hour mark, stealing the ball from Westfield Matildas teammate Alanna Kennedy – who played a full match for the Pride – and slipping it past the keeper.

While Alex Morgan pulled one back for the hosts, Chicago cruised to victory to sit two points clear of fifth-placed Utah Royals, with a game in hand.

Washington Spirit 0-1 Portland Thorns

Portland remains in the hunt for a top-two finish heading into the final round after their narrow win over lowly Washington in the capital.

Raso was heavily involved for the Thorns, setting up the only goal with her driving run down the right before crossing for Tobin Heath to do the rest.

While Portland – who are in third spot - had plenty of other chances to increase their lead, they had to settle for just the one goal and are now just two points behind second-placed Seattle, who they meet in the final round.

A win over the Reign would see Portland get a top-two finish and hosting rights in the first round of the playoffs.

While she set up the winner, Raso was stretchered off in the second half after a heavy collision with Spirit keeper Aubrey Bledsoe, replaced by fellow Westfield Matilda Caitlin Foord.

Fellow Aussie Ellie Carpenter played a full match for the Thorns.

Seattle Reign 1-1 North Carolina Courage

It was late heartbreak for Westfield Matildas pair Lydia Williams and Steph Catley as their Seattle side conceded in the sixth minute of stoppage time to draw with the NWSL leaders.

Both Williams and Catley started for the Reign who looked on course to inflict just the second defeat of the season on North Carolina when Theresa Nielsen’s goal put them in front midway through the second half.

But with time almost up, the Courage drew level from a corner after Lynn Williams poked in from close range after a mad scramble in the box.

A win would have secured a second-place finish for Seattle, who must now avoid defeat in the final round against Portland to clinch a home semi-final.

Houston Dash 6-1 Sky Blue

Houston’s finals hopes appear all-but over despite a big win over last-placed Sky Blue FC.

The Dash had six different scores on the night to keep their faint finals hopes alive, although they’ll need results to go their way massively over the next week to sneak into the top four.

While Westfield Matildas defender Clare Polkinghorne missed the match, Kyah Simon came on for the last 15 minutes and had a hand in the Dash’s fifth goal.

It was Simon’s pinpoint corner which was superbly flicked into the net by Haley Hanson for her first-ever professional goal.

Houston takes on runaway leaders North Carolina Courage in their final match of the regular season.

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This article was originally published on the Westfield Matildas website.
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