There were seven NWSL games this week. Portland and Orlando are struggling, Chicago seems to have really hit its stride, and North Carolina does not care at all to leave any doubts in the playoff race. Every single game has implications now, with six points separating #2 and #7 on the table. It’s honestly impossible to tell which teams will take the three non-Courage spots in playoffs. You could make an educated guess, but there are just too many scenarios left to play out that could go completely sideways. Will Christen Press be the difference maker for Utah, currently in 5th? Will Morgan Brian be healthy enough to make an accumulated impact for Chicago? Can Orlando get Alex Morgan the ball in more consistent fashion? Here’s how USWNT players did in NWSL for week 14.
Orlando Pride 1 - 2 Houston Dash
She tapped in a goal for Orlando early in the game but her slight disconnect from Marta in the second half left them unable to pick out the equalizer. She probably also regrets dinking an earlier penalty off the post.
Two tough balls for Harris, the first a shross from Kealia Ohai she just couldn’t get her feet under herself enough to track in, and the second guessing the wrong way on a penalty.
Huerta nicely placed her penalty in the 83’ to give Houston the win and already looks to be integrating well with Houston, working a one-two with Rachel Daly.
Some good grabs for Campbell, although she did expose herself when coming off her line and had some bad distribution from backpasses.
Utah Royals 0 - 0 Seattle Reign
Kind of an unremarkable outing from Long, who did the basics of her job in ballwinning and helping recycle with her partner Rumi Utsugi, but wasn’t really a momentum shifter in midfield.
Lots of early pressure from Utah trapped her deeper on the left, but even when she was able to break out and pull defenders to open space, she couldn’t pick out teammates and her shots from range were off target.
Some good opportunities for Rodriguez in front of goal, but her timing was off with Press. If she can work that out more, they’ll be deadly.
Press’s debut for Utah held promise as she and A-Rod already had a lot of the building blocks of a partnership. She had a couple of classic chances to take touch, turn, and shoot, but didn’t have the calibration right.
She closed down some searching balls trying to pick out runners and didn’t really let Seattle break her line. She also helped prevent a late Rapinoe goal, cutting down her angle.
Some good clean grabs coming out to get crosses or balls in the air. She also stood her ground against Rapinoe’s point blank shot to preserve the tie.
Portland Thorns 1 - 1 Sky Blue FC
Late scratch as a precaution against injury
Her first half goal wasn’t enough for Portland to get three points; Horan’s second half saw a shot right at the keeper and maybe a touch of frustration near the end letting the ball get away from her.
She got the equalizer in the 77’ with a penalty and was often trying to gobble up midfield space for Sky Blue with varying degrees of success.
McCaskill played 59 minutes, subbing out for Madison Tiernan. She tried to break the Thorns back line with some through balls and had a big chance to one time it shortly before her sub but no dice.
Orlando Pride 0 - 3 North Carolina Courage
Mathias picked up one of North Carolina’s three goals, all scored between the 37’ and 40’. She also started some NC attacks out of the deep right.
Dahlkemper started off covering Alex Morgan fairly well, but lost track of her bit by bit in the second half, not that it particularly impacted the scoreline.
An assist for Dunn on NC’s third goal. She beat plenty of Orlando players 1-v-1 and set up handfuls of goal chances.
She broke up a lot of play between Orlando’s key attackers, whether that was fighting Alex Morgan for the ball, getting picks on Sydney Leroux, or breaking up the Marta to Morgan connection.
72 minutes for Williams on the night. She had her chances in front of goal and in attacking space but didn’t capitalize on them.
She kept trying to drop to help Orlando build in possession while also running at NC’s back line, but her best shot in the second half got deflected away. She also had to come off in the 80’ due to some kind of nagging injury.
Despite some nice early aggression and a big reaction dive to deflect a shot, NC really rang her bell with three quick goals in a row as the Orlando defense freely let NC players into the box.
Utah Royals 3 - 1 Sky Blue FC
Bit of a shame for Smith to have given up a goal after making a nice kicksave at close range, but the lack of defensive clearance saw her off her line, ready to beat.
A solid, steady job from Sauerbrunn. Really, that’s all Utah needed against this Sky Blue side.
Press got her first goal for the Royals, cleaning up a loose ball in the box in the 7’. She also got an assist, feeding Stengel to make it 2-0, and was a big threat in the attacking third.
Lloyd picked up the consolation goal, cleaning up nicely as she was left unattended at the top of the box. She got a little too ambitions though, opting to shoot from range instead of dishing it out for a cross.
McCaskill didn’t start this one, coming on in the second half instead. She was really booking it as a sub, trying to exploit space on the right for NJ, but Utah was on the lookout for her crosses. She had some almost-not-quite feeds for the forwards as well.
Seattle Reign 1 - 0 Portland Thorns
Seattle was really looking for Rapinoe against the Thorns and it paid off on her assist to Jodie Taylor for the winning goal in the 89’ but it took quite a few chances for her to get that final ball right.
She and Utsugi kept Andressinha and Christine Sinclair relatively contained while Long looked for Pinoe as one of Seattle’s points of attack.
Horan tried to create some movement through the middle, but really wasn’t able to find that breakthrough for Portland.
Chicago Red Stars 2 - 0 Washington Spirit
It wasn’t the toughest game for Ertz, who readily did her job in covering Spirit attempts to find a ball through while occasionally playing the ball out directly from deep.
Not a lot of trouble for Naeher in this one with just two shots on goal from Washington.
A goal for Short as she continues her return to full match fitness. She got 68 minutes and had a little bit of trouble dealing 1-v-1 with Spirit players but also had a good block in the second half.
Just about 15 minutes for Brian, subbing on in the 76’ for Michelle Vasconcelos. She quickly established good vision trying to pick out Sam Kerr.
Some decent ball-winning from Sullivan, but her service wasn’t there, nor was her decision making when it came to shooting.
Hatch probably did better defensive work than she did offensive in this game as her and the Spirit’s scoring woes continue.