With two midweek games this week, North Carolina, Chicago, and Houston found themselves short on both rest and results. We also had some movement in terms of player health, with Sam Mewis now playing limited minutes for North Carolina and Tobin Heath stepping on the field again for the Thorns, but Megan Rapinoe having to sit out for Seattle. Here’s how USWNT players did in NWSL this week.
North Carolina Courage 1 - 0 Seattle Reign FC
Did not dress for this game
She worked hard to be NC’s orchestrator out of the midfield, moving the ball out of pressure while also breaking up Seattle plays.
Williams continues to build one of the most dangerous attacking cohorts in the league through her partnerships with Jess McDonald and Dunn, but she needs to sharpen up her finishing in order to bring results home.
Mewis returned to action by subbing on in the 73’ for Kristen Hamilton. She still has a ways to go to get up to speed, but she also showed she definitely still has a game sense for her teammates, creating a couple of chances, including a beautiful ball served to Williams in space.
Long continues to settle in at Seattle with new midfield partner Jess Fishlock. Long had a pretty steady game trying to settle down Seattle’s tempo, although she sometimes got beaten by NC’s midfield pressure.
Out with left hamstring strain
Chicago Red Stars 3 - 0 Houston Dash
Naeher stayed on her toes to smother a lot of hopeful balls from Houston, who otherwise didn’t register a proper shot on goal for the night.
A goal from Huerta to put the game beyond Houston with a very nice header in the second half. Before that she helped put lots of balls at the feet of players with looks on goal.
Some tough breaks for Campbell in this scoreline as Houston succumbed to an early own goal. Campbell’s defense also didn’t exactly do their best to protect her.
Portland Thorns 1 - 1 Washington Spirit
Better from Smith, who seems to be working her way back into a groove as the season warms up. She was useful in wide spaces, was sometimes able to offer pressure to keep Washington pressed high, and had strong defensive moments.
Sullivan really needs to take it up a notch in order to help Washington dominate central space. Though she tried to dictate the thrust and tempo of the attack, she needed to do it faster and with more accuracy.
Portland clearly regarded Pugh as a threat, giving her plenty of respectful caution every time she tried to drive at the goal. She sent some great balls across the box but found no finishers.
Hard work from Hatch but she wasn’t able to really get in position to definitively break Portland’s line. She did have moments where her speed left behind her markers but no dice for Hatch in the end.
Washington often gave her too much space in the midfield, and it really seemed as though Horan would help offer Portland a breakthrough later in the game, but she wasn’t able to orchestrate a result, and she had her penalty kick blocked, keeping the game level.
A good job from Sonnett breaking up plays and sometimes setting that high line, keeping the Spirit penned in their own half.
After a very long convalescence, Tobin Heath finally returned to the pitch, subbing on int he 60’ for Ifeoma Onumonu. She looked a little rusty but was clearly still familiar with Horan and Christine Sinclair, familiar enough to create some mild havoc around the box.
North Carolina Courage 2 - 2 Utah Royals FC
She was in position to interfere with balls aimed through or balls coming in over the top but couldn’t do anything about NC’s two goals, especially not Merritt Mathias’ laser-guided long range strike.
Utah really would have benefited from O’Hara being able to really go full O’Hara and consistently get high into space either for the long diagonal or putting in the cross herself. She was often pinned back or stranded without service, then had to sub in the 69’.
Williams offered pressure on players and the ball as well as the crossing option from deep left, but just didn’t quite have the edge to find the goal.
She drifted wherever she was needed to work as a partner for whichever midfielder was engaging at the moment. She created crosses, looked for runs, was a target for set plays, and helped double-team players.
Despite some decent moments, like a good ball over in the first half and being first to the ball to prevent chances in her defensive third, Dahlkemper also made a terrible error in the 52’ miscommunicating with her GK, giving Utah an easy goal.
Mewis came on in the 66’ for Kristen Hamilton and took up her old spot by McCall Zerboni in the midfield. She did her best to stay tight with Amy Rodriguez, but was still shaking off the rust, which could see in her passing being not quite on point.
Chicago Red Stars 1 - 1 Sky Blue FC
Very, very mixed bag from Lloyd, who sometimes was able to put Savannah McCaskill in on goal or get in herself, but compromised by her many giveaways.
McCaskill really put in a shift trying to work with Lloyd to spring the team forward, looking to pick out targets with crosses, and continuing to demonstrate she can stay strong on the ball. Still, it wasn’t quite enough until the 78’ when she made a good move inside when she saw a gap open up in Chicago’s defense and her deflected shot went in to tie the game.
After a relatively quiet first half, she had to be more proactive in the second, getting some good stops coming off her line, particularly on Lloyd.
Huerta opened the scoring with an early goal from a classic shross. She’s starting to find a groove with forward Yuki Nagasato as she shuttles between the mid and forward lines.
Orlando Pride 1 - 0 Houston Dash
Chioma Ubogagu’s winner for Orlando caught her a little off guard, but a good late save from Campbell kept the scoreline down to just a one goal differential.
Probably a slightly nervy day for Harris as Houston seemed to be feeling it more than usual, but she made the necessary stops to keep the clean sheet for Orlando.
She couldn’t quite be the difference maker for Orlando on the day with relatively limited time on the ball as she drifted left, although she did manage to square up in front of goal a couple of times.