In a weekend filled with goals from international players, perhaps the biggest USWNT news is that Alex Morgan played a full 90 for the Orlando Pride - and that she looked better than solid doing it. That’s good news for the NT, who are only a couple of weeks out from their next set of friendlies, and a mixed bag for Orlando, who were just starting to successfully mix their roster together. It was also an interesting weekend in terms of league standings; former championship contenders FCKC and Washington are sitting at #9 and #10 respectively, while the midtable of Portland, Seattle, Orlando, and Houston look like almost anything could happen with only five points separating #4 from #7. As we hit the back half of the season, which will be partially interrupted twice by USWNT friendlies, we’ll see who can gain downhill momentum and who stumbles.
Portland Thorns 1 - 0 North Carolina Courage
Allie Long: She did a lot of ball-winning in the mid and it showed as Portland mostly kept NC under control. Sure NC had their chances, but they never really took off the way have against other teams in the past.
Lindsey Horan: It took her a little time to dig into the game and she had her share of turnovers under pressure, but it was her tenaciousness in the 70’ that helped create the game-winning goal by keeping the ball in the attack.
Meghan Klingenberg: NC didn’t try go through her side of the field early on but Klingenberg put the ball in more and more, eventually culminating in an assist to Hayley Raso for Portland’s only goal. She did struggle to help close out the game defensively, though.
Lynn Williams: She ran and ran and got into the box when she could, but NC just did not translate it into shot or goals.
Samantha Mewis: Mewis wasn’t the only NC player who needed to be more involved but when she fades in games, it definitely hurts NC more. McCall Zerboni couldn’t pick up all the slack and it didn’t help that Portland was looking to bypass her with tons of direct balls.
Sky Blue FC 2 - 2 Chicago Red Stars
Christen Press: She was a constant threat on Sky Blue’s back line, picking up a goal and an assist on the night. She could have had more, but Sky Blue’s Kailen Sheridan had the hot gloves that night.
Julie Ertz: She played both deep in the mid and then shifted into the back line to compensate for an injury sub. Still, as deep as she was, she also made her share of moves in the box, trying to open up space for her teammates. Unfortunately Sam Kerr did manage to get behind her in stoppage for the equalizer.
Casey Short: She handled Kelley O’Hara well, preventing a lot of attacks through her side of the field and covering behind when Ertz would step higher. Sam Kerr was a more elusive problem for her, though.
Alyssa Naeher: Naeher smothered a lot of balls in the box, including a quick reaction at the end of the first half as Sam Kerr picked Casey Short’s pocket, but then looked completely unprepared for Sam Kerr’s late run and looping header.
Kelley O’Hara: She applied a lot of pressure offensively but was a somewhat mixed bag defensively, with some bad touches and dispossessions in dangerous spots on the pitch. But she also cut out some of the service to Press, who was already extremely threatening for most of the game.
Orlando Pride 4 - 1 FC Kansas City
Sydney Leroux: Not a lot from Leroux, who is past her adjustment period and now in her “must produce goals” period. In fairness, much of her lack of time on the ball was isolation due to KC’s limited attack, and she did her share of work on the defensive side while trying to set up her teammates.
Becky Sauerbrunn: She tried to cut out Orlando’s attempts to feed their multiple attacking options and even spent the second half picking her moments to push high, either to try and keep Orlando pressed into their own half or even to try and join the attack, but defensive errors and PKs still sank KC.
Ali Krieger: A lot of good stuff from Krieger in this game to help keep FCKC penned in while also intercepting attempts to put KC forwards in direct. She was a little bit helpless on the KC goal but the entire Orlando defense was caught out on the transition there.
Alex Morgan: Despite being asked to play a more withdrawn position, Alex Morgan had a good 90 minutes of giving KC heart palpitations with her runs into the box and coordinating with Marta. She also earned a penalty in the 37’ and put the ball away to make it 2-0.
Houston Dash 2 - 1 Washington Spirit
Carli Lloyd: out on red card suspension
Morgan Brian: Only one half for Brian as Houston is still managing a lingering injury with her. At this point Houston should really consider just letting Brian rest and truly get to 100% instead of trying to squeeze suboptimal minutes out of her here and there.
Mallory Pugh: Despite her relative inexperience, Pugh seemed willing to try and drag Washington to a result. She put in crosses, worked back on defense, picked out forwards in the box, and did just about everything but score.
Seattle Reign 1 - 1 Boston Breakers
Megan Rapinoe: Without Jess Fishlock, much hinges on Rapinoe for Seattle, and much like their previous game against North Carolina, when Boston contained Rapinoe they bottled up a lot of Seattle’s attack. Though she created the pressure that led to Seattle’s lone goal, she couldn’t get Seattle to break out for more in the second half.