The table is starting to take shape after three weeks of NWSL. Lots of key players are still out, particularly internationals from Brazil and Australia, but we can now begin to see how the big coaching shakeups between seasons might play out, from Harvey at Utah (zzzz this week) to Reddy at Sky Blue (some good pieces, but need more). Here’s how national team players did this week in NWSL.
Utah Royals 0 - 1 Chicago Red Stars
Naeher still looks inconsistent. She was able to weather some early crosses and made a few good choices to come out challenge, including a great foot save in the second half, but she also was glued to her line despite her defender calling for her in the 29’. Overall a game with more good than bad from Naeher though.
She was an okay partner for Colaprico in the middle but not a great one. When she was able to push wide to try and draw out players and hit crosses, she helped Chicago threaten.
Sauerbrunn really tried to help build out of the back and spark some movement in the midfield as it felt like Utah were playing very conservatively in their home opener.
She played the first half and subbed for the second, but had her moments, including a beautiful early ball drifting into the box from wide for Thorsnes.
Not a sterling night for Dahlkemper, who got rescued a little bit by her offense as they took pressure out of the defensive third. She was looking right at Francisca Ordega on her second half goal but wasn’t in any position to stop her.
Another game with Dunn demonstrating her utility all over the field. She played under the forwards a lot, pulling strings for Jess McDonald and Lynn Williams while also directly threatening the goal herself. She got a goal and an assist on the night.
A goal and assist for Williams as NC racked up four total. She caused some problems on the wing with her speed while also drifting inside as NC worked to find the spaces in front of goal.
A lot of great fight from Hatch, who was willing to take on multiple players at speed, but she couldn’t do it all by herself, and she should’ve done better to mark McCall Zerboni on her second goal.
Pugh is definitely the heaviest focal point of Washington’s attack right now. She showed a lot of calm under pressure and ate up tons of space going at defenders, trying to shift the ball into the attacking zone. Pugh had to call for a trainer in the second half and subbed out in the 75’ with what looked like some kind of thigh problem.
She had some trouble tracking back to stay on top of Dunn, but also generated good pressure to keep the Spirit on the attack while moving the ball out into space.
Some turnovers from Smith as well as getting pressured off the ball the higher she moved up the field, but also some nice balls slipped through. She had to adjust to a second position change too, shifting higher into midfield.
Sky Blue FC 0 - 1 Seattle Reign
Kind of a quiet night from Long, although the terrible weather in Piscataway undoubtedly impacted the flow of the game. When she did get involved she offered up the pressure Seattle needed that gave Jess Fishlock room to operate as her midfield partner.
She scored the only goal this game, an early penalty that she absolutely buried. But after an early flurry of activity, she was a bit isolated in space while Seattle pulled to the right, and had to sub out in the 54’ with a hamstring injury.
She sparked on the ball as much as she could under the conditions and had some nice ideas, trying to slice her passes through the defense for runners and combine with teammates to move out of tight spaces, but she still needs time to gel with her team as well as some more offensive support.
She drifted around the edges of a lot of this game as Sky Blue didn’t look to her in space often enough. She picked her moments trying to break the ball out and maintain pressure that would keep Sky Blue higher on the pitch.
Portland Thorns 2 - 1 Orlando Pride
Not much she could do on Portland’s first goal, but she looked completely caught by surprise on the second when the ball landed right in front of her. It doesn’t help that defense in the box lost track of key Thorns like Christine Sinclair.
She tried dropping deeper to allow her two outside forwards to pinch forward and also occupied space in front of the goal but either she wasn’t getting the ball or she got defended out.
Great game from Horan who set a lot of the midfield tempo and orchestrated both Portland goals, getting a goal and an assist on the night.
Pretty good job from Sonnett sitting in the middle of the Thorns’ three back. She was a good presence controlling Chioma Ubogagu for the most part while also pushing out so Portland could press higher.