Midweek games are rough, and they almost certainly influenced some scorelines in this past week of NWSL action. We had tired players on cross-country flights, a couple of injuries, and at least one very bonkers result. Here’s how USWNT players did in NWSL for week 16.
Alex Morgan: She scored the third goal for the Pride off of a great first touch and assisted on the first. She had plenty of other attempts but also worked to feed her teammates, demonstrating a pretty complete integration into the lineup after joining them midseason.
Mal Pugh: Pugh played 73 minutes for Washington during which time she tried to spring her teammates both on the flank and through the back line but her final ball was not there.
FC Kansas City 0 - 1 North Carolina Courage
Becky Sauerbrunn: She and CB partner Yael Averbuch were kept very, very busy and it’s to their credit that NC only managed to win this game by one.
Sydney Leroux: Leroux ran for 77 minutes before being subbed for Brittany Ratcliffe. She was tenacious as usual, but had limited effectiveness around the box.
Abby Dahlkemper: She helped keep Sydney Leroux under control to limit KC’s chances, although NC pressure also helped limit KC attempts.
Taylor Smith: Smith was fairly engaged in this one although like the rest of her team it took applied pressure later in the game to force the result. Still, she continues to demonstrate she has a good 90-minute engine and her late run in the 86’ put in the cross that gave them the winner.
Sam Mewis: It took a while for Mewis to help her team get on target, though that’s roughly to be expected of midweek games. Her midfield partner McCall Zerboni definitely picked up some slack here.
Lynn Wiliams: She scored the game winner for NC late in the game despite the Courage outshooting KC almost six to one.
Washington Spirit 2 - 2 Boston Breakers
Mal Pugh: Washington shifted her left and right trying to attack Boston’s defense and certainly weighted whichever side of the field she was on. It was unlucky that she didn’t get on the board, denied multiple times by the woodwork.
Abby Smith: A standout game from Smith who contributed heavily to getting the point for Boston with multiple saves, including a leaping punch to put out a ball headed for the very upper 90.
Margaret Purce: A slightly uncomfortable game for Purce, shunted into the back line to make up for multiple injured defenders. She was best when attacking, as to be expected of a temporarily converted forward.
Orlando Pride 5 - 0 Sky Blue FC
Ashlyn Harris: This was Harris’ return after a very long convalescence and though Orlando’s dominance made it a relatively good way to ease back in, she still had to make a leaping save to keep a clean sheet.
Ali Krieger: Even though Sky Blue had trouble finding their goalscorer nonpareil Sam Kerr, the few times they did manage to look at Kerr, Krieger was disruptively buzzing around her.
Alex Morgan: An incredible game from Morgan, who has clicked and clicked very well with Marta. She bagged two goals and assisted Marta’s second as Orlando ran rampant over a mostly helpless Sky Blue.
Kelly O’Hara: out with groin injury
Chicago Red Stars 2 - 3 Portland Thorns
Alyssa Naeher: Three goals against is rough. To some extent her defense didn’t help, especially leaving a giant space in front of her on the second goal by Sinclair, and Raso’s goal she came off her line the best she could.
Casey Short: Her ability to get high and recover helped Chicago’s high press in the middle of the game.
Julie Ertz: It was her job to deal with Christine Sinclair and it took a little time to wear into the groove. She did a lot of work recycling the ball into space and she did all the dirty work to get the ball in front of Sofia Huerta for their second goal.
Christen Press: An unassisted goal from Press was the start of Chicago’s attempted comeback and she definitely spurred a strong pushback in the midgame but as the clock counted down had trouble getting past Portland’s Kat Reynolds.
Meghan Klingenberg: Pretty good game from Kling, who was able to mix tough defending with good set piece work and ended up assisting on the game-winner by Emily Sonnett.
Lindsey Horan: She picked up an early assist to help Portland take the lead and set the tone and her pressure in the midfield definitely set a good tempo for Portland early in the game.
Allie Long: unavailable for this game
Houston Dash 0 - 1 FC Kansas City
Jane Campbell: Not much she could do on KC’s lone goal, and she had some great leaps to put the ball over the bar.
Carli Lloyd: Lloyd had to sub out in the 33’ for Cari Roccaro after landing badly on her ankle on a leaping challenge in the box. It’s a shame since Lloyd was pretty heavily involved in Houston’s attack until then and was either getting on the end of balls or putting them in herself with dangerous crosses.
Becky Sauerbrunn: She got the assist on the late game winner, making a deep run and putting in the cross for Shea Groom’s great header. It was a good pick-your-moment run from Sauerbrunn to get badly-needed points for KC.
Sydney Leroux: It was a mix of good runs and not getting into the right space at the right time for Leroux, who still went hard all 90. She won possession several times high on the field but shots went to the keeper or were blocked and hold-up play wasn’t effective enough.
Seattle Reign 1 - 2 North Carolina Courage
Megan Rapinoe: out with injury
Abby Dahlkemper: She did some good work keeping it tight with her deep midfielders and covering for Taylor Smith when she pushed high.
Taylor Smith: It was a battle all game long with Beverly Yanez, one which saw Smith often on the winning end. She was still going full speed well into second half stoppage.
Sam Mewis: A brace on the night for Mewis, whose first goal was an absolute beauty of a strike and whose second was a pretty good quickfire snipe that clanged in off the near post. Side note: she once again took a hit to the face in Seattle, though this time with much less blood.
Lynn Williams: She assisted the first goal by Mewis with a quick layoff, who made a meal off of it despite not the best setup. She used her speed all night and threatened with crosses.