Courage Travel to Boston
The Courage will travel to Boston this weekend to face the Breakers for the third time this season and the second time in two weeks. Even though there have been few official statements we can be absolutely certain that defender Yuri Kawamura of the Courage and midfielder Rose Lavelle of the Breakers will be absent. We expect that forwards Jess McDonald and Lynn Williams will be either optional substitutes or completely out. Neither player dressed for the home game last weekend, and it seems like the Courage are going to take it as slow as necessary with their star players. For the Breakers, defender Allysha Chapman was injured during the FIFA break and midfielder Rosie White picked up her fifth yellow card last weekend and should miss the following game for disciplinary reasons.
Last weekend the Courage stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first half before conceding an unbelievable goal from Adriana Lyon. The final score of 3-1 marks the second straight win for the Courage without Jess McDonald and the first game that Lynn Williams hasn’t started this season. This also marks the tenth consecutive game (every game of the season) that Paul Riley has started a unique lineup.
Kris Hamilton and Ashley Hatch Shine
Injuries haven’t been able to hold down the Courage’s offense. The Courage remain the only team in the NWSL to have scored in every game they’ve played this season. With both star forwards on the bench the replacements stepped into starting roles. In Kris Hamilton’s first start of the season she managed to score twice in the first 13 minutes. In the third minute Sam Mewis slipped a ball to Hamilton past the defense and she beat the keeper hitting side netting. In just 10 more minutes Abby Erceg put a header off the left post, Ashley Hatch volleyed it across the face of goal and Hamilton easily slotted it into the back of the net. In the 38th minute Ashley Hatch received a ball from McCall Zerboni and Boston keeper Abby Smith came off of her line to attempt a clear. The challenge fell at Hatch’s feet who played it back to Zerboni who played it back to Hatch. As Abby Smith tried to retreat back to the goal Hatch powered a shot past her before she could recover.
A Perfect Weekend All Around
The victory over Boston put the Courage into a commanding position in the standings. Before the weekend both the Chicago Red Stars and the Portland Thorns could have tied or superseded the Courage under the right circumstances. The Red Stars hosts the Washington Spirit but failed to get a win even with Washington missing Mallory Pugh, instead they tied 1-1 after being awarded a PK to tie the game. The Portland Thorns hosted Sky Blue FC and suffered a 3-1 defeat – their only loss at home this season. When the Seattle Reign managed to notch just a tie against FCKC it left the Courage a full 8 points above the 5th place team in the standings and 4 points ahead of 2nd place.
This advantage is especially important since 8 teams play on Wednesday this week. Those Wednesday games will provide the other teams with an opportunity to catch up with the Courage, but if the Courage can take care of business in Boston and at home against Sky Blue the following weekend they will be assured of remaining at the top of the standings. To make the situation even more positive for the Courage; Chicago and New Jersey will all face brutal stretches against top-tier competition.
2nd place Chicago face Sky Blue (3rd), Seattle (5th) and Orlando (6th).
3rd place New Jersey play Chicago (2nd), Orlando (6th) and Carolina (1st)