Aussies Abroad: Kerr’s Red Stars edge forward in nail-biting NWSL title race

Sam Kerr’s Chicago Red Stars are keeping the pressure on their National Women’s Soccer League title rivals following a 1-0 win at Washington Spirit.

Yuki Nagasato, who starred for Brisbane Roar in the Westfield W-League 2018/19, grabbed the winner to secure the Red Stars’ fifth straight victory and overtake defending NWSL champions North Carolina Courage at the top of the ladder.

Featured image courtesy of chicagoredstars.com

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Their run at the summit will be short lived, as Hayley Raso, Caitlin Foord and Ellie Carpenter’s Portland Thorns host Courage at Providence Park at 5am AEST on Monday.

Whatever the result, one of those teams will take over top spot at the conclusion of Round 16 but Red Stars, Courage, Thorns and Reign FC can barely be separated in a nail-biting race for the NWSL Shield.

In a closely-fought contest, Casey Short created the decisive moment when her teasing delivery was pounced upon by 132-cap Japan international Nagasato to silence Maureen Hendricks Field in Maryland.

Westfield Matildas Elise Kellond-Knight and Amy Harrison started for home side, Spirit, who have now slipped five points behind the four pace-setting teams in finals contention in sixth place.

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Pride pair see red as Dash keep finals hopes alive

Clare Polkinghorne’s Houston Dash finally broke down nine-player Orlando Pride to win 1-0 and stay in touch of the NWSL’s top four. 

Former Adelaide United and Sydney FC attacker Sophia Huerta had already ratted the Pride crossbar and Alanna Kennedy’s side went further up against it when Julie King was sent off on 61 minutes for a foul on Kristie Mewis. 

Kyah Simon came on as a 79th-minute substitute with Dash chasing the victory and Orlando’s task grew even harder when Brazil international Marta was shown a straight red card with five minutes to go.

The break through arrived two minutes later when Claire Elmslie was sent tumbling in the box England international Rachel Daly held her nerve from the penalty spot.

Dash are four points off the top four but have played two additional games, while Pride remain eighth.