The world of women's football is slowly but surely gearing up for the big event of the year, the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada. However, the action continues in the domestic leagues with plenty of tension and excitement in the USA, Finland, England and Japan. The contenders in the USA are hitting the home straight with play-off berths up for grabs, Chelsea closed in on top spot in England and there was no change in the top three in Finland.
FIFA.com reviews the latest developments in selected women's leagues around the world.
*USA: Seattle still set the standards *Seattle Reign are the dominant force in the NWSL this season and gave another impressive demonstration of their glittering credentials on Sunday. A 5,957 crowd saw Laura Harvey’s team rack up a convincing 5-0 victory over Portland Thorns courtesy of goals from Sydney Leroux, Megan Rapinoe, Kim Little and a Nahomi Kawasumi double. The victory means Seattle have taken another step towards securing home advantage in the championship play-offs, which feature the top four teams of the regular season.
Kansas City remain on course for a play-off spot thanks to a 2-1 triumph over Sky Blue FC. Goals from Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Holiday were enough to ensure Kansas maintained their undefeated home record.
Top four: Seattle Reign (46 points), Kansas City (37), Portland Thorns (30), Washington Spirit (28)
*England: Chelsea go level with Birmingham *Chelsea Ladies went joint top of the WSL women's pro league in England thanks to a 2-1 win against Bristol Academy. Yuki Ogimi and Eniola Aluko hit the target as the west London outfit drew level with leaders Birmingham City. The Blues would have gone top had they won by three goals, but Chelsea coach Emma Hayes was less than impressed afterwards. “I’m disappointed with my team,” she said. “They lacked the professionalism to kill off the game, and on another day Bristol would’ve got something from a game they didn’t deserve anything from. So we have a lot to learn to make sure we don’t take backward steps.”
Elsewhere, Liverpool missed the chance to close the gap on the top two. The Reds lost a tight encounter with Manchester City by the only goal of the game and are now five points off the lead. Liverpool remain ahead of City in third but only on goal difference.
Top three: Birmingham City Ladies, Chelsea Ladies (both 17), Liverpool Ladies (12)
*Finland: no change at the top *It was a case of ‘as you were’ in the Finnish Naisten Liiga, at least in terms of the top three. Leaders Aland United maintained their title push with a 2-1 victory over Merilappi United, Cynthia Uwak firing the match-winning brace. PK-35 Vantaa defeated Kokkola F10 by the same score, but third-placed FC Honka lost ground in the 16th round of matches with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Turun Palloseura, who themselves moved up to sixth.
Top three: Aland United (37), PK-35 Vantaa (36), FC Honka (30)
*Japan: Leonessa claw back ground *INAC Kobe Leonessa continued their game of catch-up in Japan and have hit an ominously good vein of form. Following a crushing 6-0 victory over Kibi International University in the previous round of matches, the three-time champions saw off IGA FC Kunoichi 2-1 and now have 26 points in the plus column. Leonessa are up to fourth and closed the gap on the top three, all of whom dropped points on the latest matchday. Leaders Urawa Red Diamonds and third-placed NTV Beleza played out a goalless draw, but Okayama Yunogo Belle in second failed to capitalise as they were held 1-1 by Vegalta Sendai.
Top three: Urawa Red Diamonds (33), Okayama Yunogo Belle (30), NTV Beleza (28)