It was kind of a strange week for NWSL. The Houston Dash, widely regarded as a team near the bottom of the barrel, took points off both Portland and Chicago and probably have room for a little more improvement. Portland, by the way, hasn’t won a game in their last five, including a loss to an Orlando Pride that kept Marta benched for the entire 90. Washington continues to struggle with its youth core and Sky Blue continues to struggle with...a lot of stuff. Here’s how USWNT players did in NWSL this past week.
Houston Dash 1 - 1 Portland Thorns
It was a bit of a sloppy game - not just from Horan but all around on Portland’s side. She did have some beautiful feeds like the one to Crnogorcevich to end the first half and had what could have been a game winner cleared off the line by Houston.
Not a bad job from Sonnett anticipating Houston’s attempt to put final balls into the box and she stayed sharp at the end to anticipate a breakaway.
Heath is finally healthy enough to start, but she still has yet to find last season’s championship mode. Second half she was more active trying to pull defenders out of the box and she moved higher on the pitch.
Not much required as Portland lagged in the first half, but in the second she slid into an attempt at goal and made a nice catch on a header from a free kick.
Utah Royals 0 - 0 Orlando Pride
Utah couldn’t quite figure out how to unlock Orlando’s defense, leaving Harris in mostly comfortable position all night. She had stay alert to pounce on a late mistake from Monica that could have given Utah the winner.
Morgan started on the bench this game and subbed on in the 53’ for Chioma Ubogagu. She had several runs into the box trying to beat the back line, but the service was never quite there for her.
This game was somehow a bit of snoozer despite O’Hara still trying to be active along the flank. She created a few chances with tackles and crosses, but no game winner.
Orlando didn’t really get into her territory as they battled it out in the midfield. In return, Sauerbrunn picked her moments to keep the back line high as Utah tried to press together.
Portland Thorns 1 - 2 Orlando Pride
Several very nice saves from Harris kept Portland out and gave Orlando three points here, including tipping away a knuckling doozy of a shot from Tobin Heath.
Morgan opened the scoring in the 11’ when she pounced on a bad clearance from a Portland defender. The rest of the game she was perhaps searching and not finding the ball enough.
Heath did a lot, but was inefficient with it, still trying to get on the same page as some of her newer teammates. She had some very nice attempts on goal though and played a full 90, a good sign for her return to form.
Horan looked a little bit uncertain as she adjusted to a new midfield partner in Andressinha, having to carry a little more defensive load while still trying to pick out Tobin Heath.
A weird early tackle attempt aside, Sonnett wasn’t able to do much to keep Orlando out, given the kinds of goals they scored. She did try to push up last minute to keep Portland in the attack but it wasn’t Portland’s day at all.
North Carolina Courage 1 - 0 Washington Spirit
Pugh was trying to pull strings in this match as Washington looked to absorb and then break out quickly, but she didn’t have good targets in the box.
When she and Pugh were on, they were able to take NC apart at speed on the fast break, but Hatch wasn’t in the right space often enough to find the difference maker.
A hard day in the midfield for Sullivan, who did have some moments winning the ball in the middle, but also got trucked by McCall Zerboni and turned the ball over with bad or tentative touches.
Not the greatest game from Smith; she was often glued to Crystal Dunn’s side, which meant conceding tons of space down the side to NC, and let NC create chances by being out of position.
Dunn created a couple of chances, but got subbed off in the 50’ before she could really create something dangerous.
Chicago Red Stars 2 - 2 Houston Dash
A moment of bad miscommunication between Campbell and her defender opened Houston up to Chicago’s first goal but she and the defense also kept out a lot of Sam Kerr’s probing balls from around the box.
Not as much required from Naeher in the first half as Houston ran against Chicago’s defense. Perhaps she could have really gone at Daly on Houston’s first goal, but she had no chance on their second.
Julie Ertz returned to action for Chicago, playing out a planned first half before subbing off. She pushed higher ahead of Colaprico trying to make a target for Kerr in the box, but despite some nice positioning didn’t find the net.
She got the equalizer on a nice penalty for Chicago but was lost up top near the end of the game as Chicago struggled for that incisive final move to create a game winner.
Seattle Reign 4 - 1 Sky Blue FC
She spent the opening beats of the game chasing the ball before settling somewhat, but still wasn’t able to establish dominance in the midfield or find a regular rhythm with McCaskill.
McCaskill got Sky Blue’s only goal of the game, a looping shot at a sharp angle that could have been a shross but also could have been a genuine shot attempt. She created what chances she could for Katie Johnson as well.
As quintessential a Rapinoe performance as there ever was. She dropped right back into the rhythm of the game after injury, banging in a brace and either crossing or drifting inside and shooting.
Long threatened inconsistently in front of goal while limiting Sky Blue chances on the other end of the field. She sealed Sky Blue’s fate with Seattle’s fourth goal late in the game, just putting her body in the right place and following through.