There were two particularly interesting results in NWSL play this week. First, the Reign took it to the Washington Spirit 6-2. Then the next day the Orlando Pride upset the league leading North Carolina Courage 3-1. In between, there were other results suggesting that a quarter of the way into the season, everything is still very much up for grabs. Here’s how the USWNT players in the league did this past weekend.
Houston Dash 1 - 3 Sky Blue FC
Morgan Brian: Brian got her first start since returning from injury but subbed out at the 61’, clearly not ready for a full 90 yet. But for the first half it was clear that her presence has been missed, and that Houston’s attack is better with her.
Kealia Ohai: Ohai often seemed to be trying to do everything herself, especially later in the game after Brian was subbed out. She eventually got the assist on Houston’s only goal in the 76’.
Kelley O’Hara: Did not play due to family commitment
Seattle Reign 6 - 2 Washington Spirit
Megan Rapinoe: Honestly you should just watch the highlights.
FC Kansas City 0 - 0 Portland Thorns
Becky Sauerbrunn: She kept it tight to control Portland every time they moved up, not allowing her back line to be split and choking off the most obvious routes to the goal.
Sydney Leroux: KC was definitely looking for her over the top, but she still didn’t have a ton of chances in the first half. She almost broke through in the second half but Portland’s GK Franch was up to the task.
Meghan Klingenberg: As usual, played in her super-high role as basically another forward for Portland. Hit some good switches on the ball, but couldn’t find the incisive cross.
Emily Sonnett: She kept trying to pop long balls over the top as Portland searched for the game winner, but nothing was on target for them.
Allie Long: Long tried to spur the attack and feed Lindsey Horan, but also had to cover for her defensively, but when Long is on defense she’s not on offense, and she had some good attempts for Portland on the day when she could afford to be higher on the pitch.
Lindsey Horan: Horan pushed up more at times, which dropped Christine Sinclair beneath her. She wasn’t moving the ball that well for Portland; despite being fairly active, it wasn’t effective activity.
Orlando Pride 3 - 1 North Carolina Courage
Ali Krieger: A good, active performance from Krieger who picked up the assist on the first goal by Chioma Ubogagu. Also defended the flank pretty well despite all of NC’s ability to get in behind.
Ashlyn Harris: It’s a shame she couldn’t get the clean sheet with how Orlando finally put their game together (notwithstanding NC losing a player to two yellow cards in the second half) but not much she could do on Debinha’s shot, with Alanna Kennedy leaving a huge gap between defenders right in front of goal.
Samantha Mewis: Mewis is still a great midfielder who can build the ball out of deep, but Orlando figured out how to get in behind her and Zerboni. She really should have an assist on the day for her clever heel flick, but Debinha wasn’t calibrated properly yet.
Lynn Williams: Williams was fantastic drawing attention in the box and finding the cutback to Debinha but the rest of her attempts to drag NC to a result weren’t on target. Still, Williams was a spark for NC.
Jess McDonald: She subbed out in the 68’ but was almost as active as Williams in trying to get the ball into scoring position.
Christen Press: Had some frustrating moments as she was constantly headed off by Boston’s defense, but ultimately bagged the late equalizer for Chicago off a bouncing header.
Julie Ertz: Not quite as threatening as she’s previously been as a battering ram entering the 18.
Casey Short: Not enough involvement from Short here, although Boston’s play on her side of the field eventually dwindled.
Alyssa Naeher: Mostly strong on the day, picking out the balls that entered her box despite the wind.
Megan Oyster: A good job from Oyster working on a shifting back line; she helped crowd Chicago every time they tried to get close to goal and mostly stayed on Christen Press.
Rose Lavelle: She grabbed Boston’s only goal with a beauty into the side netting (and on her birthday to boot), and several times demonstrated her ability to eat up space at high speed given half an opportunity. Still needs to work on not taking on too many defenders by herself.