Not a good week for USWNT goalkeepers as the current numbers two and three in Ashlyn Harris and Jane Campbell had big snafus. Alyssa Naeher probably fared the best this week out of the three, but she’s definitely had an inconsistent season. Meanwhile, no one can stop the Courage, and Lindsey Horan might help carry Portland to a playoff spot. Here’s how national team players did in NWSL this week.
Sullivan had some good moments, like a beautifully weighted early ball that threaded the NC defense, and was still making runs in stoppage, but she also had some bad touches that created turnovers.
Hatch looked disconnected from the rest of her team, not making the runs they were looking for or not finding her own final ball.
Lavelle got subbed on in the 69’ and was a little bit of a spark despite some physical challenges from McCall Zerboni. Her touch was much more crisp than when she first started getting minutes again.
She almost got on the scoresheet and threatened a few times but was generally not that on target.
She interrupted Washington’s buildup plenty of times and also had too much empty space in the midfield where she could take control.
Dunn played 71 minutes and picked up an assist on the second goal. She had a couple of shots herself, though they were off target, and was often unchecked in space.
She generally choked off a lot of the Spirit’s attempts to look at the NC goal and didn’t allow attackers to turn.
Not a ton of defense needed from Mathias in certain patches of the game but she sent in a lot of quality balls from way outside the 18.
Mewis subbed on in the 65’ for Jess McDonald and went to work keeping track of Lavelle as well as distributing the ball out for her attackers.
Houston Dash 3 - 1 Orlando Pride
Bad hands from Campbell gave up a soft goal to Orlando but later she was in position to make a crucial late save.
Fairly bright start from Huerta, though her presence tapered off as the game went on.
Not a good game for Harris, who didn’t win some crucial challenges off her line and didn’t get good clearances with her decisions to punch instead of catch.
Morgan had an early chance off the post as part of Orlando’s efforts, but more chance didn’t come often enough and Orlando was less efficient than Houston with their shooting.
Seattle Reign 1 - Utah Royals
Smith seemed to settle down after an early headscratcher of a punch, making a couple of good snags in the air, but she was a bit out of position on the goal against.
Rodriguez was hustling out there but when she wasn’t getting held up too long she was missing some opportunities to put the ball away.
Press was really alone for a lot of the game and even though she had good individual efforts, like her stand-up play against Jess Fishlock, she couldn’t do it by herself.
Rapinoe got the lone goal of the game with a nice looping header off a corner kick. She also had another dimension return to her game with Fishlock returning as a midfield partner.
She stayed pretty composed under attacking pressure from Rodriguez and did her job linking the ball between deeper positions and moving it through the midfield.
Out with injury
Sky Blue FC 0 - 4 North Carolina Courage
She did some good work coming back on the defensive side of the ball but for all that she kept trying to pick out teammates, no one finished the ball for Sky Blue that night.
Only 63’ minutes for McCaskill, who was patient on the ball in midfield, although perhaps sometimes at the cost of a fast penetrating transition.
Some tough fights for Dahlkemper covering McCaskill and Lloyd around the box, but with the help of Erceg they kept the clean sheet.
NC’s relentless press helped cover for some mistakes from Mathias, like completely losing McCaskill in the box, but she also was a good part of fast transitions.
She had some trouble keeping up with Shea Groom, but Zerboni still had her usual professional performance, helping dominate the midfield.
Dunn beat wide players for crosses, sent in direct balls over, and slipped through balls for Williams. And she didn’t particularly look too frantic, taking it to SBFC at her own pace.
After a little warming up missing some sitters, Williams more than made up for it, taking ruthless advantage of SBFC’s disorganization with a hat trick.
Mewis subbed on in the 66’ and made some strong challenges on Carli Lloyd while still looking to add to Williams’ tally.
Utah Royals 1 - Orlando Pride 2
Some terrible decisions from Smith in this game, including coming almost entirely out of the 18-yard box on the game-winning goal from Orlando. She had to sub out in the 72’ after a tough challenge dropped her hard out of midair.
Press continues to struggle to click with Utah, resulting in some moments of frustration where she tries to do too much by herself from midfield.
Orlando had problems keeping an eye on A-Rod for the 63 minutes she was in; she really sat in that centerback space and waited for her opportunity to pounce, resulting in an early goal.
Harris was just out of position and fairly immobile on Rodriguez’s goal, but didn’t have to come up too big for the rest of the game.
62 minutes for Morgan, who opened the scoring with a penalty. She was a bit limited in her effectiveness as Utah stuck close to her.
Chicago Red Stars 1 - 0 Seattle Reign
She parried away some shots and was quick off her line to gather balls that crossed into her territory.
An off-kilter game for Short who did a good job under the circumstances as an injury to Arin Gilliland forced Short to switch from left to right back to cover.
She had a a hard-working night and had some trouble at the end keeping up with Jasmyne Spencer’s fresh legs.
Brian got the full game for Chicago and was pretty good at being a ball-winner who could settle Chicago’s midfield.
Another workmanlike game from Long on both ends of the field; she almost got her head to a ball for a goal and gummed up the works to stifle Chicago.
Some strong challenges from Rapinoe to win the ball high and keep pressure while looking to feed her forwards but Seattle looked a little more physical than finesse on the night.
Portland Thorns 3 - 1 Houston Dash
A brace for Horan on the night as Houston’s defense looked quite out of sorts. Horan won in the midfield for most of the night too.
She looked best when she was serving as an outlet for a switch or a fast ball deep into the left flank, and worst when she dead-ended the ball instead of finding the simple pass out.
A couple of good grabs but Campbell also made big mistakes, like on Horan’s first goal, although she certainly had reason to distrust her defense.
She couldn’t get through Horan in midfield and mostly sprayed the ball wide back and forth while she was kept on the periphery of the box looking for options.