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USWNT players in NWSL week 8: Lloyd blasts goal, Heath frustrates

North Carolina might slowly be pulling away, but top table and bottom table teams are still fighting over narrow results.

Mexico vs United States Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images

It was another weekend of close results in NWSL. Earlier in the season, some of these games might have been goalfests as teams like Houston were still fiddling with their defenses. But now teams are settling into more familiar grooves, especially as key players return from injuries and internationals get settled in starting XI’s. Here’s how USWNT players did in NWSL this weekend.

Utah Royals 1 - 0 Houston Dash

Becky Sauerbrunn

It took a little before Sauerbrunn was properly called into action as Utah controlled the game early, but later she made several key tackles on attacking players and won some of Houston’s searching long balls to keep them out.

Jane Campbell

Several good grabs from Campbell, though the most important was probably the block on Diana Matheson’s admittedly mediocre penalty. It helped that Utah wasn’t particularly on target on the day.

Washington Spirit 0 - 1 Portland Thorns

Emily Sonnett

She spent a decent amount of time cutting off the Spirit’s pushes through the middle, including pushing Ashley Hatch off the ball or not letting her turn towards goal.

Lindsey Horan

Horan played a little deeper this game, often linking the defense to the midfield and cycling the ball out. But she also had some nice feeds that led to chances on goal and picked out Tobin Heath on the attack that created Portland’s game winner.

Tobin Heath

Heath continues a frustrating run in which she’s trying too hard to truly get into the groove with the rest of the team. Still, in spite of some shaky passing, she got the assist on Portland’s lone goal with a nicely weighted cross in front of the net.

Ashley Hatch

She had 58 minutes for Washington before she was subbed off for Franny Ordega. Hatch provided some pressure in the midfield but had trouble getting looks at goal and flubbed a good chance off a ball from Pugh.

Mallory Pugh

She created movement through the middle and tried to facilitate Washington’s attack, including several runs to pull the defense with her and pick out a teammate in the box, but the Spirit were not on target.

Andi Sullivan

A solid game from Sullivan, although she was extremely lucky not to concede a penalty to Portland after a rough challenge on Midge Purce on the breakaway.

Taylor Smith

While she made some moves into Portland’s defensive space, she also had a little trouble with Ellie Carpenter and lost track of her on Portland’s goal.

Sky Blue FC 1 - 2 North Carolina Courage

Carli Lloyd

Lloyd salvaged a little pride for Sky Blue even though they were outshout over four to one this game, banging in a long range last-minute goal off a set piece to make up for an earlier blocked penalty. She also threatened throughout the match, looking the most dangerous she’s been this season.

Savannah McCaskill

As much as she tried to break out on the right for Sky Blue, she had trouble getting around Jaelene Hinkle with speed. She had better luck driving up the middle but still couldn’t find the net.

Abby Dahlkemper

Pretty steady from her and Abby Erceg (Between Two Abbies? Abby squared?), especially near the end slowing the game down and calming play to help NC preserve their surprisingly narrow lead.

Sam Mewis

Mewis got the game winner for the Courage in the first half when she pounced on a loose ball in the box. She maybe had a slightly slower time of it in big spaces in the middle as NC attacked Sky Blue’s flanks.

Crystal Dunn

She continues to show why she and Jess McDonald are one of the most crucial partnerships in the league, opening up the scoring off a great run and smart finish. Dunn nearly returned the favor in a mirror run in the second half and was generally a nuisance to Sky Blue’s flank.

Seattle Reign 0 - 0 Chicago Red Stars

Alyssa Naeher

An early kicksave kept it level for Chicago, followed up by a huge tipover on a dipping shot from Megan Rapinoe. Naeher was often off her line in a sweeper-keeper role as well.

Julie Ertz

Ertz is now up to playing 75 minutes before subbing. It wasn’t her greatest game though, pushed higher in the field ahead of Nikki Stanton but unable to really grab opportunities in the box.

Sofia Huerta

She tried to work some quick passing with Ertz and Sam Kerr but was often stymied in the final third along with the rest of the Red Stars.

Megan Rapinoe

A relatively muted game for Rapinoe, at least by her usual standards. She had a handful of chances and a beautiful shot in the second half but Chicago’s defense was willing to go to the mat with her to prevent her from breaking their back line.

Allie Long

Not as much box-to-box action for Long in this game, who was more in protective mode with her own back line in order to help close off Chicago’s midfield.