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USWNT players in NWSL, week 18: the Hand of Lloyd

Sky Blue delivers a fun, bonkers game.

2018 Tournament Of Nations: Australia v United States Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The NWSL playoff race is starting to look a little clearer. North Carolina is so far ahead of everyone else - and in fact took the NWSL shield in their last game - they might as well be an outlier. But the teams in spots 2 through 5 are starting to maybe put some separation between themselves and the teams in spots 6 and 7 who are still sniffing at a playoff spot. #2 Seattle is at 33 points and #5 Chicago is at 28 with a game in hand; that’s not a lot of room for error. And the bottom table teams are all spoiler threats, even Sky Blue, who took two points off Orlando. Meanwhile, you never know when Houston will turn up, and Washington just got back big threats Mal Pugh and Rose Lavelle. Hold on to your butts, everyone. Here’s how USWNT players did in the league this week.

North Carolina Courage 2 - 1 Portland Thorns

Adrianna Franch

A lot of good grabs from Franch in this one, but Lynn Williams was just too dialed in for NC on the day.

Emily Sonnett

Sonnett looked a little tired after playing through Tournament of Nations and nearly gave up a penalty with a big foul in the 30’, but mostly kept it together.

Lindsey Horan

She was a mix of creating movement through the midfield for Portland and some turnovers, but she also had a perfect header to pull one back for Portland.

Tobin Heath

She tried to help control the midfield with Christine Sinclair but wasn’t always that successful as Debinha and Denise O’Sullivan were ready for a fight. She did get the assist on Horan’s header.

Lynn Williams

Two goals for Williams on the day, who often had the speed and movement to beat Klingenberg.

McCall Zerboni

Zerboni hung tough despite going down early with an injury that looked like a cramp. She kept tangling with Caitlin Foord and limiting Portland’s attempt to equalize.

Sam Mewis

She got the start after resting through much of Tournament of Nations. She found some nice seams and took plenty of space for NC in the middle.

Abby Dahlkemper

A little trouble defending Foord 1-v-1, but mostly managed from Dahlkemper.

Merrit Mathias

She was dangerous when she engaged in the high press with the rest of NC and had Williams as a target.

Crystal Dunn

Dunn got a slight rest, subbing on for Mewis in the 78’. She helped keep Portland searching for the last 15 minutes or so.

Orlando Pride 2 - 2 Sky Blue FC

Ashlyn Harris

She kept having to come off her line to deal with Imani Dorsey as Orlando’s defense often gaped wide open and had a good quick grab in the 69’ to deny Carli Lloyd.

Alex Morgan

Morgan came off the bench in the 61’ and helped put the pressure on Sky Blue as Orlando looked for an equalizer. She was very much a target for Orlando but her shots were deflected out.

Savannah McCaskill

McCaskill was a good source for both Dorsey and Groom throughout the game and picked up an assist on Sky Blue’s second goal.

Carli Lloyd

She subbed on in the 55’ for Madison Tiernan and played pretty hard as Sky Blue sensed a chance for their first win of the season. Alas, she went off in the 97’ with a red card for slapping a ball off the line with her hand.

Houston Dash 1 - 2 Utah Royals

Jane Campbell

Bad communication between Campbell and Amber Brooks set up Utah’s first goal and Campbell was out of position for Utah’s second.

Sofia Huerta

Huerta got the assist on Houston’s only goal and threatened a couple of times but she also whiffed an early shot that should’ve but Houston up early and set the tone for the game.

Becky Sauerbrunn

She really had to stay on her toes for most of the game as Utah’s defense had trouble limiting chances from getting beaten at speed.

Christen Press

Press started the Utah comeback, pouncing on a mistake from Houston’s defense and finishing nicely past Campbell.

Amy Rodriguez

A-Rod got 74 minutes for Utah and tried to make herself a target for balls into the box but she was often surrounded by three or four orange jerseys at a time.

Seattle Reign 2 - 0 Washington Spirit

Mallory Pugh

Pugh has finally returned after rehabbing an injury, subbing on in the 69’. She was clearly still working on her timing and touch, but she looked energetic and hungry to score.

Rose Lavelle

Lavelle also came on in the 69’. She switched right or left as needed, often pulling Reign players like a magnet.

Megan Rapinoe

Rapinoe said she was tired after a very full Tournament of Nations but didn’t play like it until the last 15 minutes or so, when she finally looked gassed.

Allie Long

She got the assist on Seattle’s first goal, acting as the pivot in the midfield that set up the run and the finish.