Season five is here, and despite some snafus in the run-up, the league essentially went through a soft relaunch as they began their new partnership with Lifetime. That means more money in the league, a nationally broadcast game every weekend, and a new streaming platform that took some figuring out as it’s currently mobile-only and requires a Chromecast or Apple TV to stream to a television (but international fans can watch on nwslsoccer.com since the mobile platform isn’t available outside the US). WHEW. Got all that? Here’s the actual meat: how WNT players did in the league this past weekend.
Houston Dash 2 - 0 Chicago Red Stars
Morgan Brian: did not play due to injury
Kealia Ohai: She played merry havoc with Chicago’s high back line and opened the scoring for the weekend 15 minutes into the game.
Alyssa Naeher: Not the best game for Naeher. She was far too conservative in the box, although Rachel Daly’s goal for Houston was a SportsCenter top 10 squeaking into the upper 90 that no one had a hope of reaching.
Casey Short: Short was okay on the night, doing her best to contribute as a fullback while dealing with Houston’s attacking speed.
Julie Ertz (nee Johnston): Not a fun time for Ertz. Chicago was pressed high, and you can see how Ohai burnt her easily with speed.
Christen Press: Chicago head coach Rory Dames asked Press to sit deeper behind the forwards with some freedom to run up between them. She had some clever moments pulling the strings but was frustrated in her chances all game long.
Portland Thorns 2 - 0 Orlando Pride
Lindsey Horan: In her 69 minutes with the Thorns she showed some promise working in the midfield with Allie Long and Amandine Henry, but it didn’t help that Henry seemed to having a very off night.
Allie Long: A pretty good outing from Long, and an example of why she’s a staple for the Thorns yet has been struggling with the WNT. Namely, position. Long was allowed to move much higher up the pitch and her assist to Christine Sinclair was a beauty.
Meghan Klingenberg: She was extremely high on the pitch for a lot of the game, at one point even positioned as basically center forward. It generated some decent chances for Portland but might have bitten them against a more organized team.
Ali Krieger: She got moved to center back with Australian Alanna Kennedy for this game. She mostly did her best to cut out balls trying to enter the defensive third, but got beaten smoothly by Sinclair on Portland’s second goal.
Ashlyn Harris: It might have been worse for Orlando without Harris, who left her line like a puppy unclipped from the leash in the dog park. That bravado served Orlando well when Harris spotted Sinclair in a one-v-one footrace with a defender and leapt into a diving header to clear the ball away.
Washington Spirit 0 - 1 North Carolina Courage
Samantha Mewis: She was large and in charge for NC, a midfield backstop who often ended Spirit possession and restarted NC attacks without much fuss.
Jess McDonald: McDonald had her share of chances but couldn’t quite finish, as you might expect from any team still emerging from preseason mode. That was a theme for the Courage throughout this game.
Lynn Williams: She had her chances as well, including a point-blank rocket stopped by Spirit keeper and overall Washington hero of the night Stephanie Labbe.
Seattle Reign 1 - 1 Sky Blue FC
Megan Rapinoe: She had almost a full 90 for Seattle and scored a penalty kick for Seattle. But she didn’t look in step with the Reign midfield for most of the night - or rather the midfield didn’t look connected with her.
Kelley O’Hara: She caused Seattle plenty of trouble all over the field and might be developing a very enterprising partnership this season with Aussie Sam Kerr. O’Hara honestly probably should have picked up an assist for the night the way she and Sky Blue were playing, but it was not to be.
FC Kansas City 2 - 0 Boston Breakers
Amy Rodriguez: Let’s just get it out of the way. Though A-Rod scored in triumphal fashion upon returning to her club for the first time since having her second child, she went out of the game in the 57’ due to an injury after her foot caught and she tumbled onto the pitch. Rodriguez seemed in no small amount of pain and seemed to know it was bad, if her expression was any indication. She’s supposed to go in for testing today (Monday).
Sydney Leroux: Leroux isn’t officially back with the WNT yet but she’s contractually obligated a call-up after a break to give birth to her first child. She didn’t exactly play like she knew Jill Ellis was watching, but that didn’t stop her from taking advantage of Boston’s shaky back line and putting a goal away herself with a great one-timer.
Becky Sauerbrunn: She hit a lot of great service from deep while also containing Boston’s pesky forwards. Her long ball over the top is the one Leroux was able to hit in stride for KC’s first goal.
Megan Oyster: She had a heck of a time containing Rodriguez until she was subbed and probably needs a couple more weeks to really adjust to being the anchor of their back line.
Rose Lavelle: Hers was probably one of the more anticipated club debuts, but despite surges of her patented footwork, it was a subdued night for Lavelle. She was once again played pushed to right midfield, though she came central more and more as the game went on. She got off a few shots but looks like Boston either needs to tweak her role or give her more time to adjust to her midfield.