NWSL wrap: Kerr closes in on Golden Boot after Houston double
Westfield Matildas star Sam Kerr is edging closer to another incredible National Women's Soccer League achievement.
The Chicago Red Stars striker - who celebrates her 26th birthday on Tuesday - could soon be celebrating a third consecutive NWSL Golden Boot win after sealing a double on Monday morning (AEST).
Kerr scored two excellent goals to bring her 2019 campaign tally to 15 in a 3-0 win for Chicago against Houston Dash, one which keeps title hopes burning for the Red Stars.
She is also on the verge of equalling the league record for most goals scored in a season - the 17 she scored for Sky Blue FC in 2017.
The Australian captain needed just seven minutes to breach the Dash defence and whip a composed near-post finish past Houston ‘keeper Jane Campbell to open the scoring.
And she had her second just before the interval, firing home from outside the box after a neat interchange with Japan and Brisbane Roar star Yuki Nagasato, who later missed a penalty.
Sydney FC Championship winner Savannah McCaskill added her name to the score sheet with an instinctive 65th minute finish.
With that double, Kerr moves six goals clear of Portland's Christine Sinclair (nine goals).
Chicago are now four points away from first-place Portland Thorns with four matches remaining.
Rory Dames’ side require the Thorns and second-place North Carolina Courage (who have two games in hand on both) to drop points on the run home to help their chances of clinching their maiden NWSL silverware.
A good place to start would be this Thursday, where Thorns host Courage shortly after Kerr's Chicago travel to bottom-placed Orlando Pride.
Portland’s premiership hopes take a hit
The title hopes of Hayley Raso, Ellie Carpenter and Caitlin Foord of Portland took a blow after a 1-0 loss to Utah Royals on Saturday.
Becky Sauerbrunn scored the only goal of the game in the second half, heading home Christen Press’ cross.
Both Raso and Carpenter started for the visitors, while Foord came on midway through the second half as Portland chased an equaliser.
But the defeat, coupled with North Carolina's win over Sky Blue FC, has cut the Thorns’ lead at the top to just two points - a precarious margin given they have played two games more than the 2018 double winners.
It makes this Thursday afternoon's match up between Portland and North Carolina a blockbuster of title-winning proportions.
Reign supreme against Pride
Steph Catley's Reign FC kept their Final series bid ticking along with a 3-1 victory over Alanna Kennedy's Orlando Pride.
Two goals inside the opening 12 minutes from Darian Jenkins helped the Seattle-based club on their way, with Catley picking up the assist for the American striker's second. Beverly Yanez got in on the opening-half rout with a 17th minute effort.
Camila Martins Pereira scored a late consolation from the penalty spot for Pride, for whom Kennedy made her return from suspension and played 90 minutes in central midfield.