The fifth year of the National Women’s Soccer League has come and gone. In terms of the US women’s national team, the league bore some fruit, perhaps the most prominent being Taylor Smith, but also provided a place for players not just to develop their skills in hopes of a callup, but also to continue playing and working with the next cycle of players when their own WNT callups start to slow to a trickle. It’s a give and take that seems to be working on both sides, as it was intended to, although there’s certainly argument that the WNT is not plumbing the ranks of NWSL as diligently as it should. Still, the league is fun and competitive with something interesting happening in every week of games and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Marta showed up this year and helped heave Orlando into the playoffs after re-connecting with old teammate Alex Morgan and improving on their previous partnership. We’ll see if that partnership pays off in a first-ever trophy for relative newcomers Orlando. But Portland is firmly in the race, Chicago could sneak in a knockout punch, and the Courage look ready to put ‘em up against anyone, anywhere.
For now, here’s how USWNT players did in the last weekend of NWSL.
Houston Dash 0 - 4 North Carolina Courage
Jane Campbell: Poor Jane Campbell had a mix of bad defense in front of her and some indecisive moments that helped NC get the rout.
Abby Dahlkemper: More than just helping keep the shutout on a night when Houston was certainly pushing to get into the box, Dalhkemper also picked up an assist on the first goal.
Sam Mewis: She opened the scoring with a nice quick run that completely caught most of Houston off guard and was instrumental in their third goal with her run and cut-back in the box.
Lynn Williams: A goal and an assist for Williams on the night. Her goal continued to bamboozle a shaken Houston defense.
Taylor Smith: As playoff teams look to rotate lineups a bit while still managing starting XI cohesion, Smith was subbed in in the 52’ for Sam Witteman.
Portland Thorns 3 - 1 Chicago Red Stars
Lindsey Horan: Did a good job creating a lot of Portland’s pressure in the midfield.
Allie Long: Entered as a second-half sub. Mostly kept it calm in deeper Portland territory though she felt the strain after the Press sub.
Tobin Heath: Entered as a second-half sub. Still coming up to speed but doing so nicely, although she was perhaps slow to drop off the ball in the attacking third.
Sofia Huerta: She entered in the 59’ for Summer Green and grabbed Chicago’s only goal of the game with a nice long range whip. It might have been enough to help swing momentum for a tie but for a late PK awarded to Portland.
Christen Press: Entered in the 73’ for Vanessa DiBernardo and despite almost immediately putting her stamp on the game wasn’t quite enough to push Chicago to a result.
Washington Spirit 2 - 3 Seattle reign
Mal Pugh: She scored an early first-half brace but the Spirit unfortunately let the Reign back into the game and ended up losing literally at the last minute.
Megan Rapinoe: Out due to yellow card accumulation
Boston Breakers 3 - 4 Sky Blue FC
Kelley O’Hara: An assist and a goal for O’Hara on a crazy night for both teams. O’Hara’s goal was the winner as well, coming deep in the second half after Boston had equalized 3-3.
Rose Lavelle: held out as precautionary measure
North Carolina Courage 2 - 3 Orlando Pride
Abby Dahlkemper: Busier in the second half than the first and generally pretty good at both supporting Taylor Smith and choking off a very determined Chioma Ubogagu.
Taylor Smith: Caused consistent trouble as Orlando left her lots of space to push high and get behind their lines.
Lynn Williams: 76’ minutes and two goals for Lynn Williams, including a very calmly taken penalty, but not enough for NC on the night.
Sam Mewis: She entered in the 63’ as a sub for McCall Zerboni. Provided some good pressure on Alex Morgan and was a decent pivot in the middle for calm defense and starting offensive pressure.
Ashlyn Harris: Some excellent stops from Harris, especially early on when NC had a lot of the attacking pressure.
Alex Morgan: Consistently dangerous and her partnership with Marta was on clear display. Picked up an assist for Orlando’s second goal.
FC Kansas City 1 - 1 Houston Dash
Sydney Leroux: Active in waves for KC and had a golden opportunity early in the first half she could have done better to control and finish.
Becky Sauerbrun: did not play
Jane Campbell: Once again some misfortune for Campbell to get scored on while she needed defensive help but also had an excellent save on a Leroux shot destined for the top 90.