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NWSL Week 5 Takeaways: Chioma Ubogagu is Orlando’s best right now

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Editorial (May 4, 2018)  After four weekend matches and one mid-week match, the NWSL has ended the month of April and kicked off May action. The standings have changed quite a bit in those few matches.

NWSL Week 5 Takeaways: Chioma Ubogagu is Orlando’s best right now

The Orlando Pride, sitting toward the bottom of the table before the weekend, now holds the No. 4 spot in the NWSL. North Carolina remains on top with 16 points.

Currently, North Carolina is the only club with double-digit points. The Chicago Red Stars are behind them, in second, with nine points.

Here are four takeaways from the NWSL’s Week 5.

Chioma Ubogagu is Orlando’s best

With a heavy, talented roster, Chioma Ubogagu could have easily been overshadowed for the Orlando Pride.

However, right now, Ubogagu — a forward — is Orlando’s best player. She has featured in all six matches for the Pride this season, starting five matches.

Three goals already to her name, Ubogagu is not letting herself become buried on a roster that includes Alex Morgan, Marta, Sydney Leroux and Poliana.

Last year, the forward only scored four goals. Right now, she’s on track to double at — at the least.

Tom Sermanni, Pride head coach, has done well implementing Ubogagu in a position that has so much depth. One of my biggest concerns this season was having Ubogagu ride the bench for the national team, and better known, players.

She’s proving to Orlando why she needs to be on the pitch.

Michelle Betos remains the starter

Rightfully so, Vlatko Andonovski has kept Michelle Betos as the starting goalkeeper for the Seattle Reign FC.

With the return of Lydia Williams from international duty, there was speculation to if Betos would keep her spot or not. However, the Reign currently sit in fifth place in the NWSL with seven points.

Right now, Betos is second in the league — behind Aubrey Bledose (29 saves) of the Washington Spirit — with 17 saves in four matches. She has one shutout this season against Sky Blue FC.

In an interview with the NWSL, Betos said that she’s just happy to continue earning wins at home.

“… To have us all there and pull it together and pull out the win, yeah I think that was really special to do that at home and some of the fans get to know the new players and the new names,” Betos said.

Dahlkemper absence has answers

Eyes were averted off the field for the North Carolina Courage this week.

On Friday, the league announced that Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper had missed the Courage’s April 18 match against the Seattle Reign FC due to a wait of approval on a Therapeutic Use Exemption form.

The match ended Dahlkemper’s record-consecutive minutes streak. The NWSL issued a “public warning” on Friday via the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

U.S. Soccer released a statement.

“After discussions with Abby and USADA, and after reviewing Abby’s medical information, we fully understand that Abby’s use of the prescribed medication spironolactone without a secured TUE resulted in the public warning,” U.S. Soccer’s statement read. “She received the medication from a personal doctor to treat acne and it is not related to performance enhancement in any way. Abby had declared the use of her medication on her doping control form at the time of the sample collection, and has subsequently obtained a TUE for the medication from USADA, so she can continue to take it.”

“We fully cooperated with USADA during the disciplinary process and in securing the TUE on Abby’s behalf to ensure the situation could be resolved quickly.”

Dahlkemper also released a statement.

“As athletes, we are responsible for knowing about the medications we take,” Dahlkemper’s statement read. “I made the mistake of not being more diligent about a medication my doctor prescribed for my persistent skin condition and I should have confirmed that the medication was free of all banned substances. The medication I am taking does not have any performance-enhancing effects and my use of this medication has since been approved by USADA.”

“I appreciate U.S. Soccer guiding me through this process and I’m grateful that this has been resolved. I am looking forward to the rest of the 2018 season.”

Nobody’s catching up to North Carolina

Might as well just give the North Carolina Courage the NWSL Shield.

The Courage, as mentioned, are the only club with double-digit points, with 16. Adding to that, the Courage have faced six of the eight opposing clubs in the NWSL.

The seventh club will be added this weekend, as North Carolina takes on the Chicago Red Stars.

North Carolina is undefeated, which certainly helps in future matches. Granted, players were missing from previous matches, but now North Carolina knows how to beat opposing clubs.

Right now, it looks like North Carolina will remain at the top.

It also helps to have four players — Jessica McDonald, Jaelene Hinkle, Crystal Dunn and McCall Zerboni — on the NWSL Team of the Month!

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