NWSL Weekly Wrap: Round Eight

Impetus welcomes Blaise Ogutu who will be providing us with regular round-ups from all of the best action in the NWSL (21/6/22).

Above: Nadia Nadim celebrates her second goal for Racing Louisville at Washington Spirit. Photo: Equalizer Soccer.

From Nadia Nadim’s Brace To A Thriller In Carolina: NWSL Round Eight

The Juneteenth weekend in the NWSL was a goal-fest. Right from the Friday kick-off game in Washington right down to the last game on Sunday night in North Carolina.

On Friday, the Washington Spirit hosted Racing Louisville at Segra Field with both teams looking to snap their winless runs. Washington was up to the races in the first moments of the game completely dominating the visitors but the missing piece of the puzzle was the opening goal. Spirit thought they had opened the scoring when Emily Sonnett found the back of the net only for the offside flag to be raised. Trinity Rodman however did open the scores in the 33rd minute with a right-footed shot past Katie Lund in goal.

Washington doubled the lead with three minutes to go in the first half through Madie Elwell. Her first professional career goal in the NWSL. There seemed to be no way back for the visitors up until Nadia Nadim entered the fray in the second half. In the 65th minute the Dane and Jessica McDonald linked up well and Nadim raced off to coolly slot one past Lund to pull one back. Washington’s suspect defending reared its head again as the potent Racing Louisville duo combined once again. This time McDonald managed to latch onto a loose ball to float it onto Nadia Nadim with a timely header to tie the game in the 88th minute. A draw neither side benefitted from as both teams continued with their winless runs in the league.

Saturday saw two games on the main card. First off, Kansas City Current hosted the Chicago Red Stars. The Current had a dream start in the eighth minute when Kristen Hamilton nodded in the opener. Hamilton benefitted from a Hailie Mace cross and put the ball past Alyssa Naeher scoring her second goal in as many games. It was a brilliant defensive display by Kansas not to concede in the first half but Chicago had other ideas.

Red Stars found the equaliser nine minutes after the restart through Amanda Kowalski. A corner floated in and found Kowalski at the back post with a bullet header past Adrianna Franch in goal. Five minutes later, Chicago found themselves with a chance to go ahead after Mallory Pugh was fouled inside the box and she proceeded to make the penalty count. Kansas City weren’t done yet and held their own defensively throughout the second half. They got their reward in the 68th minute when Cece Kizer’s left-footed shot found the top corner past an outstretched Naeher raising the roof at the Children’s Mercy Park. This result dented the team from the Windy City a chance to go top of the table ahead of Portland and San Diego’s games.

Above: Bethany Belcer battling against Megan Reid as OL Reign face Angel City. Photo: Equalizer Soccer.

The other game at Lumen Field later on Saturday saw the OL Reign narrowly beat Angel City FC one to nothing. Bethany Balcer was at hand to give the hosts the lead in the 30th minute. She was alert to pounce on a poor clearance by Angel City’s defence to give Laura Harvey’s charges the lead they deserved. It was a cagey affair for the rest of the game which featured a number of hard fouls that brought out the cards. Megan Rapinoe on her return to first-team action was sent off from the bench late in the second half for dissent but luckily for the hosts, it had no effect as they held on to their slender lead. Angel City have to contend with a piling number of players on the injury list as Simone Charley was forced off the field in the first half and joins Christen Press who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Roll on Sunday where the Portland Thorns welcomed a much shaken Orlando Pride to the Providence Park. Nothing was welcoming about the score however as the Thorns ran out 6-0 winners. Hina Sugita opened the scoring in the 21st minute being on the end of a Janine Beckie cross. Captain Becky Sauerbrunn doubled the advantage three minutes later pouncing on a loose ball parried by McLeod in the Pride goal.

The floodgates opened in the second half with Sophia Smith scoring a brace of long-range efforts after being granted too much space by the Orlando defence. Natalia Kuikka and Taylor Porter also got in on the scoring with the latter scoring her first professional goal in the NWSL. This result means that the Thorns handed Orlando their worst result ever and took Portland to second on the table.

Elsewhere on Sunday, the San Diego Wave held the top spot heading into the international break with a 3-0 win away at Gotham FC. Alex Morgan set the Red Bull Arena alight with a first-half brace and provided an assist for Makenzy Doniak as they cruised in Harrison New Jersey. This is the second time Alex Morgan was involved in every single goal scored against Gotham FC after scoring four the last time the two teams met.

Above: Houston Dash players celebrate their victory over North Carolina Courage. Photo: Houston Dash.

The last game of the weekend proved to be a thriller as Houston Dash came from behind to narrowly edge out hosts North Carolina Courage 4-3 at the WakeMed Soccer Park. Denise O’Sullivan had the opener in the 6th minute with a superb half-volley. Houston replied nine minutes later through Maria Sanchez who was picked out by Shea Groom to slot the ball past Jane Campbell in goal.

It was chaotic opening 12 minutes in the second half as Elizabeth Eddy scored two quick goals for Houston. The second one was a deft attempt to get the ball past Casey Murphy in the Courage goal. Nichelle Prince made it 4-1 in the 51st minute cutting in from the left side and bending her shot beating Murphy. Six minutes later, Diana Ordonez pulled one back for the hosts with a skilful finish, taking down Pickett’s cross and dribbling past Chapman before scoring. Within two minutes, Courage had reduced the deficit to a single goal when Debinha fought her way past a crowd before unleashing a shot through Campbell’s legs. This set up a nervy finish to the game but Houston managed to hold on to the narrow victory. 

Here is how things stand going into the international break:

Table From: NWSL.

For Blaise‘s biography along with the rest of our contributors, click here: https://impetusfootball.org/about-our-contributors/

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