Look, every point matters all season long. But when you’re burning through regular season games and you can literally see your playoff hopes slipping through your fingers, every point matters. There were some critical results in this past week of NWSL play in terms of stnadings, and honestly just in terms of pride for some teams. Here’s how USWNT players did in NWSL in week 19.
Utah Royals 1 - 0 Washington Spirit
Pugh only got about 30 minutes, subbing off in the first half for Cali Farquahrson. It seemed planned as Pugh returns to full strength.
Lavelle got a full half with the Spirit after an encouraging Tournament of Nations, but Utah was pretty much in charge while she was on the pitch.
Sauerbrunn was available as a sub and came on in the 79’ for Christen Press, higher up the pitch in a DM role. She put some nicely weighted balls into distribution.
Not a ton going for Press in this game, despite Utah controlling it. Utah needs more from a Press - Matheson connection if they want more shots and SOG.
Washington defended her pretty hard, although she still managed to turn and shoot in the box several times.
Her distribution wasn’t the sharpest, but she comfortably smothered most of NC’s attempts and couldn’t do much about their goal against, a bullet of a header.
She had a little trouble tracking Lynn Williams, but wasn’t so pinned back that she wasn’t able to make a couple of deep runs.
Ertz started at LCB for this game and kept close to Jess McDonald throughout. She also pushed up for set pieces but recovered nicely to prevent gaps in the defense.
Brian seemed to warm up as the game went on; her control in tight spaces was good and she made good runs out of the midfield, with a great turn and shoot dinking off the post.
She was mostly able to stay with Sam Kerr, positioning herself well to try and cut Kerr out of the game.
Her service into the box was fairly prolific but wasn’t accurate enough for NC to be able to find another goal.
As usual she played a solid ballwinning game and picked out some nice switches, although it was a battle with Chicago’s midfield.
A quieter game than usual from Dunn, who was often double- or triple-teamed and limited to long-range shots.
A quiet game for Williams as well, although she got the better of Short several times by beating her at speed and aiming in crosses.
Out with injury
Utah Royals 0 - 1 Seattle Reign
While she did the defensive work, Long’s offensive contribution to Seattle wasn’t quite as accurate as it could have been.
Rapinoe was a menace for most of the game, getting gassed late but then finding a last burst of energy in stoppage.
She kept pushing up to try and spur the midfield in the attack while also working hard to cover Rapinoe any time she got close to goal.
Press had some great individual moments, but needed to be more decisive about picking out open teammates instead of trying to carry the ball herself.
She subbed on in the 62’ for Taylor Lytle and threatened a bit from wide, but her crosses didn’t find targets.
Sky Blue FC 1 - 2 Houston Dash
She had a bit of a bobble early on but made some good parries, and her defense didn’t really help her on the goal by Sky Blue.
She was okay to good on her set piece delivery and took some bold long-range chances while also trying to act as the feeder for Daly.
Some very nice set ups for the other Sky Blue Forwards, but she could have done better with her own attempts to finish.
Out on red card suspension
Orlando Pride 0 - 2 Portland Thorns
She was fairly strong in the air on the night, but not much else she could do on Portland’s goals, both of them muscled into the net.
She was often pitted against the whole Thorns back line by herself as Orlando got pinned back, but worked hard on the defensive side of the ball.
She stayed tight on Alex Morgan and was the calm anchor for Portland with Menges to stay in control in the back.
A lot of defensive work from Horan, who also opened up the scoring for Portland with a 47’ goal.
A rough game from Heath, who should have gotten a card for an early foul, but eventually cleaned up her game and looked better drifting inside from left or right.
Great game from Franch, who earned a big clean sheet with big deflections and a diving reaction save in the second half.