With seven games in one week, things got a little crowded in NWSL. There was plenty of travel, lots of roster rotation, and more than one crazy back-and-forth game, including an upset and some results that were too close for comfort if you’re aiming to be a playoff team. Here’s how US national team players did in NWSL in week 9.
Hectic night for Harris who probably had a word or two for her defense about unmarked players in the box after this game, but she had a goof of her own, flailing off her line on NC’s fourth goal.
A relatively quiet game from Morgan, who had a goal called back for offside early on in the game.
After a quiet first half for NC’s defense, Dahlkemper could’ve done a better job in the second keeping track of who was in North Carolina’s box and where to keep Orlando out of the game after NC had built their two point lead.
She got the third goal for North Carolina off an assist from Dunn in the 62’, rising in the box to head in a ball that dinked off the post and the keeper before crossing the line.
Dunn got the assist on NC’s third goal but perhaps could’ve set the tone of the game earlier by turning NC control into goals and putting away her chances.
Washington Spirit 1 - 0 Sky Blue FC
Midweek games called for squad rotation; McCaskill entered for Sky Blue in the 61’ for Madison Tiernan and had her hands full checking back to deal with Mal Pugh while trying to find Carli Lloyd.
Pretty hard work from Lloyd all game long whether she was lingering between defenders, threading the back line with through balls, or trying to chip the keeper from downtown. Unfortunately it looks like Sky Blue still isn’t on the same page between midfield and forwards.
After a series of frustrating runs, Hatch finally put Washington on the scoreboard with the game winner, a header in the 64’.
She drifted into several positions on the field, drifting under the forwards trying to playmake and also pulling wide, sometimes dragging two and three defenders with her.
Sullivan picked up an assist on Washington’s only goal and kept up the pressure in midfield to either force Sky Blue out of that central channel or keep the Spirit pressed high.
Some good slicing runs from Smith who also linked up with Sullivan to move the ball inside from time to time. Defensively, she needed to be a little sharper in keeping Sky Blue’s forwards from being able to face up and shoot.
Rose Lavelle finally returned to limited action after an eight-month hamstring rehab, subbing on in the 74’ for Estefania Banini. She had some good one-on-one take ons but was very much finding her feet.
Houston Dash 2 - 1 Seattle Reign
Though Long did spring the ball that led to Seattle’s goal, she was a bit too conservative to keep the Reign in it throughout the second half.
Rapinoe came on at the start of the second half for Elizabeth Addo and added a shot of energy for Seattle, but the Reign were frustratingly off kilter as a whole.
A defensive error left Jodie Taylor wide open in front of Campbell for Seattle’s only goal, but she paid Taylor back int he secon dhalf with a nice stop on what might have been the winner.
Portland Thorns 2 - 0 Utah Royals
She made several important defensive saves, including blocking a point blank shot from Tobin heath in the first half.
Out with hamstring injury
It was an assist for Heath to open the scoring, feeding a great ball to Christine Sinclair. She also switched sides in the attack for a while and had a mix of errors and better attempts to feed Sinclair into space.
Horan got Portland’s second goal of the night off a very nice assist from Meghan Klingenberg. Some good attempts to turn and slide in forwards making runs while also checking back defensively.
Out with a back injury
Chicago Red Stars 2 - 5 Orlando Pride
Harris made some good 1-v-1 saves on Sam Kerr to help give Orlando the edge.
Morgan picked up a goal and an assist. Her header was a beauty, perfectly fed by Marta on the run, and later on her movement through the box left space for Sydney Leroux to also get on the scoresheet.
Naeher’s turn to have a word with her defense on this one; their connection definitely looked shaky after two quick Orlando goals to open, and they left her vulnerable all night.
Not a good night for Ertz, who had to be more dominant centrally to win the midfield for Chicago but wasn’t.
She tried to make the connection with Kerr, but was often stuck back to goal and unable to turn.
Sky Blue FC 0 - 1 Seattle Reign
She picked at Sky Blue’s attempts to go through Lloyd and McCaskill centrally while also setting up transition from deep with the help of Rumi Utsugi.
Rapinoe got the game’s only goal off an assist from Christen Westphal but wasn’t quite as active as usual, although she certainly got plenty of space from Sky Blue to casually hang around and look for teammates.
McCaskill couldn’t find that final ball whether it was from drawing the play deep along the right flank or dropping into more of a 10 role as she did in the second half.
Lloyd was constantly poking at the box, either making the run herself or looking to feed Janine Beckie, but still it seems miscommunication and bad timing are costing Sky Blue opportunities.
Houston Dash 3 - 2 Washington Spirit
Pugh came on in the second half for the Spirit. She flubbed a penalty in the 51’ but definitely brought more attacking power to Washington until she had to leave late in the game with an injury.
Lavelle subbed on in the 67’ for Rebecca Quinn and did not look terribly tentative in her attempts to go 1-v-1 and body other players off the ball, a good sign for her recovery.
Smith was caught high on the transition a lot, but also got an assist from doing as she was asked along that flank, crossing it to Estefania Banini to open the Spirit’s scoring.
Sullivan left way too much space on the table for Houston, allowing them to dictate a lot of plays out of the midfield, and looked hesitant to step in and close down on Dash players.
Early on she didn’t look to be on the same page as her teammates with her runs, although she helped the Spirit come back within one with a stoppage time goal.
She made an important stop on Pugh’s penalty, however badly it was taken, but had a miscommunication on a back pass to give away a goal to Ashley Hatch.