Even six weeks into the season, there’s not much separating most of the teams in the league. North Carolina, still top of the table, is nevertheless looking vulnerable now after two losses in a row, both times allowing three goals. Some teams look like they might be ready to start cruising in a higher gear, like Sky Blue FC. And one team in particular got a much-needed lift with a new player signing last week. Here’s how USWNT players did in NWSL for week six.
Boston Breakers 2 - 2 Portland Thorns
Rose Lavelle: She was a little too isolated to be a crucial difference maker for Boston, although she did have some good moments and at least one signature Lavelle-ian run through half the field with the ball at her feet.
Megan Oyster: It was an okay game for Oyster, but unlucky for her to get called for a handball in the box in the 56’, which gave Portland a penalty and a way back into the game.
Lindsey Horan: This was the most involved Horan has been all season for Portland, perhaps encouraged by the absence of Allie Long due to injury.
Allie Long: Did not play due to injury (hamstring).
Sky Blue FC 2 - 1 Houston Dash
Kelley O’Hara: Wherever O’Hara went, she was clearly looking for Sam Kerr, and was able to find her in dangerous position fairly often.
Kealia Ohai: She started off with a bit of trouble, shut down early and often by Christie Pearce, but then helped open up the game for Houston when she switched sides of the field.
Morgan Brian: Brian made it to 81’ for Houston this time, although she didn’t really look great for the last 10 minutes or so of that. She managed to get the ball across the goal and linked with Ohai, but faded in the second half.
Washington Spirit 0 - 1 FC Kansas City
Mallory Pugh: Well, it was Mal Pugh’s much-hyped debut for the Washington Spirit but she had less than a week of full practices with the team to get any kind of rhythm going. Still, after her sub in in the 54’ for Arielle Ship, she was clearly ready for action as well as a constant target for the Spirit. No goal or assist, though she almost put Franny Ordega in late in the game.
Becky Sauerbrunn: Solid game for Sauerbrunn, who sent in some quality balls from deep, as well as reading a lot of the balls the Spirit sent up for Pugh and cutting them out.
Sydney Leroux: She remained aggressive for all 90 minutes and was still pushing in the last minutes of regulation to put KC ahead by two. Fitness-wise, it seems Leroux is just about back. But between her touches getting away from her and the Spirit sometimes swarming her with three defenders, no goal for Leroux.
Lynn Williams: Despite early attempts to get in behind, she wasn’t as involved as needed to be in the first half. Her fantastic goal in the 55’ wasn’t necessarily representative of her whole effort on the night.
Jess McDonald: Paul Riley did McDonald no favors by starting her on the right in a three-back. Once she moved back up to forward in the second half, NC saw an immediate difference.
Samantha Mewis: Quieter game from Mewis. She and McCall Zerboni had a lot to do covering for a discombobulated defense and it was bad communication that had her tripping over her own teammate right before Chicago scored their third goal.
Christen Press: Press bagged a goal and an assist in Chicago’s 3-1 victory. She was on a bit of a tear for Chicago, though her “I’ll do it all myself” runs tended to dead end or result in an off-target shot.
Julie Ertz: Back in her holding mid role, Ertz cut out a lot of NC attempts and calmed the ball down. She also put in her teammates a couple of times, like a great ball for Vanessa DiBernardo that DiBernardo ended up putting off the post.
Casey Short: She had a better first half than second, mostly keeping NC’s Doniak under control, but having to step it up when McDonald shifted up. A couple of times Short got flat-out burnt by McDonald.
Alyssa Naeher: Good game from Naeher, goal against notwithstanding. She had a great diving save in the 58’ and finished out the game professionally when NC was really pressing for goals.
Seattle Reign - Orlando Pride
Megan Rapinoe: The more involved she got the better it went for Seattle, although that did take a little bit of time.
Ashlyn Harris: In an extreme turn of misfortune, Harris suffered a non-contact injury during a goal kick in the 23’. It looked like a hip injury; she had to come off the field for substitute Caroline Stanley.
Ali Krieger: She mostly cut off attempts to find Rapinoe, although she wasn’t in great position to stop the Reign’s only goal. But she helped close out the game to preserve Orlando’s road point.