NWSL is back! Well, it’s been back for a week, but last week I was on vacation, so here we are in week two, which had some real spice sprinkled on it. Let’s just dive right in with the spiciest game of them all.
Chicago Red Stars 4 - 4 Portland Thorns
She had a big face-to-face save on Tobin Heath, but Chicago’s defense, the windy weather conditions, and a well-taken Christine Sinclair PK made this a day for Naeher to put behind her.
Short did a mostly good-to-great job controlling Tobin Heath along the flank, but had a couple of whiffs that let Heath in. She subbed off in the 75’.
She was Chicago’s ballwinner in the middle, created some dangerous moments in the box, and had an assist on the Michele Vasconcelos goal.
Brian subbed on in the 63’ and had some success playing underneath the forwards and trying to slip them into and through the back line.
Like her counterpart on the Chicago side of the field, she had some steady moments, like a late catch on what could have been a game-winner for Chicago, but the defensive lapses put her in bad positions.
She was forced to be a bit more cautious after she got stripped of the ball by Sam Kerr in the 20’, leading to a goal for Chicago, and her distribution out of the back was a mixed bag.
Horan started things off on a positive note with a lovely little assist right into Christine Sinclair’s path, but with Heath often cut off as an outlet, Horan’s effectiveness along the left was limited.
A quieter day than usual from Heath, who often found herself losing one-on-ones with Casey Short or simply driven out of bounds.
Sky Blue FC 0 - 1 Houston Dash
Not the most effective game from Lloyd. She lost the ball or got bodied off of it and Sky Blue’s formation was not set up to give her enough support to get into the box.
Utah Royals 1 - 0 Washington Spirit
A pretty solid game from Sauerbrunn, who helped close down Washington’s attempts to penetrate the 18, cleaned up some messes, and stayed alert to dropping on counters.
An assist for Press on the game-winning goal, as well as a driven performance that had her carrying the ball out of pressure and pulling all Spirit eyes towards her to open up the attacking third for her teammates.
O’Hara subbed in in the 61’ and had some success at penetrating along the left flank.
She often started Washington’s attack from deep and did a fair amount of ballwinning in front of the back line, but didn’t give Washington enough forward momentum.
Pugh was a threat at times from wide and served some good corner kicks that were unfortunate not to have better finishes.
Lavelle was a second-half sub and looked good but frustrated in her thwarted attempts to play out of the midfield. Still, her presence helped open up the Royals a little bit.
Reign FC 1 - 1 Orlando Pride
Long paired up with Rumi Utsugi to really stymie Orlando in the midfield, although she had a risky moment at the end of the first half with Ali Krieger nearly slipping in unnoticed behind her in the box.
Harris had a close call when Shea Groom nearly blocked Harris’ own distribution back into the goal and wasn’t great in the air, but did keep out a second-half chance.
Krieger was partially responsible for the early Reign goal from Balcer as she got pulled out of position, but rebounded energetically and pushed high on the flank for Orlando to create some dangerous opportunities.
Not much for Morgan on the night, who was either dropping deeper and winning the ball far away from the goal, or unable to receive service from her teammates.