NWSL Weekend Review: Last Minute Drama and a New Number 1

NWSL Weekend Review: Portland Thorns forward Sophia Smith scores two goals at Providence Park on August 5, 2022

After last week’s return to league action, the teams of the NWSL were able to get rid of any rust that may have lingered from the international break. Both Friday and Saturday saw drama-filled matchups and standing shakeups throughout the league table in this week’s NWSL Weekend Review.

NWSL Weekend Review and a New Number One

Friday

Racing Louisville FC 1 – Washington Spirit 1

Louisville has had the quickest turnaround of games since the international break. Friday’s matchup against the Washington Spirit was their third in just eight days. There was nothing to speak of in terms of scoring or discipline in the first half. In the 52-minute Louisville’s Nadia Nadim opened the scoring after receiving a cutback assist from Kirsten Davis. Washington’s Ashley Hatch came on midway through the second half after being absent due to injury and made an immediate impact.

Last year’s Golden Boot winner, Ashley Hatch, took a shot on her first touch just outside the box that tied it up for the Spirit. Despite both teams having many chances to put up double-digit shot totals each, the match ended in a draw. Both teams will be disappointed they couldn’t come out on top as they both needed three points to avoid furthering their gaps at the bottom of the table.

Portland Thorns FC 3 – North Carolina Courage 3

On paper, Friday’s match in Portland was supposed to be a lopsided affair between second place Thorns and the last-place Courage. However, it ended up being a must-watch and goal-filled thriller. The first half was all Portland. Sophia Smith continued her scoring dominance with a great individual effort in the 8th minute. While Morgan Weaver was able to tap in a goal in the 24-minute to make it 2-0 going into halftime.

The Thorns’ dominance was short-lived. North Carolina was able to equalize courtesy of two goals from Diana Rosario Ordonez in the 61st and 72-minutes. Sophia Smith was able to complete a brace of her own in the 77-minute giving Portland a 3-2 lead.

Then with the match winding down, Jaelene Daniels was able to help salvage a point with a goal in the 85-minute. While the Courage can’t afford to drop any more points with just nine on the season, this was a morale-boosting result that could be what they need to start a playoff run. Meanwhile, a draw sees the Thorns take first place in the standings on goal difference.

Sunday

San Diego Wave FC 1 – Kansas City Current 2

The Wave came into the weekend in first place atop the table. The vising current went to San Diego just above the playoff line hoping to attain a more comfortable position. Kansas City’s CeCe Kizer celebrated her 25th birthday by opening the scoring in the 27-minute. Hailie Mace followed that up in the 39-minute by curling a ball into the top right corner from outside the box to make it 2-0. The score line would remain that way well into the second half.

The Wave’s defense stood strong with a penalty save from Canadian international Khailen Sheridan. San Diego made a late push to get a result with an 88-minute goal from Amirah Ali. However, it was all for not as the Current held on to spoil San Diego’s reign at the top and improved their own place in the standings.

Chicago Red Stars 2 – NJ/NY Gotham FC 0

From the start of Sunday’s match in Chicago, the home team was in front of a struggling Gotham FC. After several chances throughout the first 45, the Red Stars were finally able to get on the board after a headed goal from Tatumn Milazzo just as the five minutes of added time was ending.

The scoring continued in the second half with a header courtesy of Chicago’s Ava Cook. there was very little to speak of for Gotham who had no shots on target through the entire match. This was simply a dominant performance all around for the Chicago Red Stars.

OL Reign 1 – Houston Dash 2

On paper, this was the marque matchup entering the weekend. Both teams were even on points and occupied the third and fourth place spots in the table. For the most part, this match lived up to the hype. US star Meghan Rapinoe helped the Reign take the lead early in the 16-minute.

Then in the span of just two minutes, Houston’s Ebony Salmon scored a brace that gave the Dash a lead in minute 55. The first was from a penalty while the second came from a Shea Groom assist. With a win, Houston moves to third in the standings with 24 points.

Orlando Pride 2 – Angel City FC 2

The final match of the week arguably had the most drama. towards the end of a scoreless first half, Angel City’s Ali Riley hit a screamer across the box that hit the back of the net. This made it a 1-0 match heading into halftime. In the 2nd half, Orlando’s Julie Doyle came on for Darian Jenkins and quickly made her presence known with a goal in the 64-minute. Angel City was able to answer quickly with a Cari Roccaro goal in the 72-minute.

Then as regulation was about the transition to injury time in the 90-minute, Orlando equalized. Kerry Abello put in a cross that went off Angel City defender Paige Neilson’s foot for an own goal. This would end up being the last goal of the match for a 2-2 thriller.

Game Summary of this Week’s NWSL Weekend Review

The NWSL Weekend had a lot of tight and close games. All but one game was determined by a goal or less, which shows the parity of the league. Also, with Portland drawing and San Diego losing, the Portland Thorns FC goes up to first place in the league and tied in points with the San Diego Wave FC.

Photo Credit: Portland Thorns FC on August 6, 2022.