Africans Abroad: Addo bows out in NWSL playoffs semifinals

Elizabeth Addo reaches playoffs semis in NWSL debut, South African trio manage commendable finish under newly-appointed Coach Vera Pauw while Francisca Ordega wraps up a forgettable season.

Elizabeth Addo reaches NWSL playoffs
Photo: SounderAtHeart/mikerussellfoto

Elizabeth Addo’s impressive debut season in the USA came to an end on Saturday 15 September as Settle Reign fell 2-1 to rivals Portland Thorns in the NWSL playoffs semifinals.

The Ghanaian midfielder was a second half substitute in the mouthwatering clash, which saw Portland come from behind to storm to their second successive playoffs final.

Seattle took the lead in the 29th minute when they were awarded a free-kick in their final third following Emily Sonnett’s hard challenge on Jess Fishlock.

Megan Rapino stepped up, sending an in-swinging ball that hit the crossbar and fell right to Jasmyne Spencer who knocked it home for the first goal.

Jodie Taylor nearly doubled the lead four minutes later when she fired a rocket from 20 yards out but was denied by the Portland custodian Adriana Franch.

The England international was at it again in the 37th minute, this time from inside the six but Franch was having none of it.

Seattle continued to press but it would be Portland who would close the half on a high courtesy of a Tobin Heath equaliser off a Lindsey Horan assist.

It was end-to-end action again at the start of the second half and Heath seemed to have sealed a brace following a breathtaking counter-attack in the 69th minute.

But the splendid connection of Horan to Christine Sinclair to Heath to stroke the ball past Lydia Williams was (wrongly) ruled offside.

Portland finally found the winning goal in the 77th minute with the Canadian veteran Sinclair sending in a lofty cross for Horan to head home.

Coach Vlatko Andonovski made three successive substitutes immediately thereafter as Seattle went in search of an equaliser.

Bev Yanez came in for Spencer (78’), Rumi Utsugi Fishlock made way for Morgan Andrews (82’) while Addo relieved Jess Fishlock (84’).

Addo’s impact was instant, as she drew a foul to give Seattle a free-kick from 30 yards out but Rapinoe’s ball into the box was sent out for a throw-in.

The final whistle found Seattle still searching and with that, Addo—the last African standing in the NWSL this season—bowed out.

 

The Lowdown

Addo – Seattle Reign

Addo featured 13 times in 26 matches for the star-studded Seattle this season, clocking 698 minutes and registering one assist.

The Ghanaian becomes the second African to reach the NWSL playoffs in recent times after Francisca Ordega.

Ordega – Washington Spirit

Ordega scored the winner that fired Washington Spirit to their first ever NWSL playoffs final in 2016.

But it has been downhill for Washington since then, finishing bottom in 2017 and second last in 2018.

The Nigerian striker played 18 games (1,192 minutes), marking 15 starts and scoring three goals this season, her fourth season in the league.

South African trio – Houston Dash

The South African trio at Houston Dash under former Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw managed a sixth-place finish this season.

This was the maiden NWSL season for Thembi Kgatlana and Linda Motlhalo as well, and the second for compatriot Janine Van Wyk.

Thembi Kgatlana

Forward Thembi Kgatlana featured 16 times for Houston, making two starts, scoring two goals and tallying three assists in a total of 376 minutes of play.

Linda Motlhalo

Midfielder Linda Motlhalo was a more constant feature in Houston’s mid this season, starting 20 of the 21 games she played.

She clocked 1,788 minutes and registered one goal and one assist while at it.

Janine van Wyk

Defender Janine Van Wyk was another regular for Houston, starting all the 20 games she featured in and clocking 1,719 minutes.

AWCON 2018

Focus for the five now turns to the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations 2018 set for Ghana in November.

Ghana, South Africa and defending champions Nigeria are among the eight nations that have qualified for the continental showpiece.

AWCON 2018 will double as the African qualifiers for the 2019 Women’s World Cup with the top three qualifying.

Portland will play the winner of the second semi-final between holders North Carolina Courage and Chicago Red Stars in the playoffs final on Saturday 22 September.

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