Impetus’ Blaise Ogutu brings us his detailed weekly round-up of all the action from the NWSL (12/7/22).
Above: Kylie Strom wheels away in celebration against Houston Dash. Photo: @ORLPride.
Derby Weekend And Late Goals: Round 11
It was yet another action-packed weekend of soccer in the NWSL with key match-ups in the battle for the play-off spots and the title. With some players still on international duty, the league is full of teams digging deep into their squad depth to come up with the right winning formula. Let’s take a look at how things unfolded this past weekend.
On Friday, Orlando Pride recorded their first home victory in 2022 beating a backsliding Houston Dash 1-0 on their return to the Exploria Stadium.
The lone goal came in the 79th minute via a Prissock own goal. Houston’s clearance from a corner found Carrie Lawrence who chipped it back into the crowded box and found Kylie Strom. The right back’s header towards goal ricocheted off Ally Prissock and rolled slowly beyond Jane Campbell in goal. Pride’s interim coach Seb Hines would have been happy with the improved performance from his side after getting the better of Dash for the first time in four years. Orlando had a number of chances to score in the first half through Darian Jenkins but her shot in the 16th minute went wide off the mark.
In Louisville, hosts Racing Louisville fell victim to Gotham FC losing 2-1 courtesy of Taylor Smith’s goal ten minutes from time.
Louisville had a chance to break the deadlock early in the first half with Emina Ekic forcing Ashlyn Harris into a save from a deadly free-kick. Halfway through the half and the New Jersey-based club found the opener through Paige Monahan. Racing through on goal on the right flank, the winger never yielded to pressure from the defenders and beat Lund in goal with a fierce strike. The first goal in three matches for Scott Parkinson’s side.
In the second half, Gotham were yet again at Louisville’s throats when Taylor Smith had a free run at their defence, but saw her weak shot parried by Lund. On the other end, Savannah DeMelo continued her impressive run in front of goal with a superb finish. Charging forwards, she found enough space to bend her shot past Harris to level matters. The final blow for Racing came in the 80th minute when Nahomi Kawasumi threaded a pass onto Smith’s path to put away the chance and give the visitors a much-needed win in the race for the play-offs.
It was the SoCal Derby on Saturday when the two expansion teams met at the Banc Of California Stadium. Angel City FC ran out 2-1 winners over San Diego Wave to condemn league leaders to their third loss of the season.
Goals from Ali Riley and debutant Claire Emslie on either side of a Kristen McNabb equaliser in front of a home crowd. Angel City for the second weekend in a row found themselves in front less than ten minutes into the game when Ali Riley found the back of the net. Overlapping on the left flank, the New Zealand native latched on to a pass from Jun Endo before rifling her shot through Carly Telford’s legs.
The second half brought out the fireworks as the home side pushed for a second and briefly thought they had it but Sydney Leroux was deemed to be offside before scoring. Instead on the other end, San Diego found the equaliser through McNabb’s low shot from out wide.
Momentum shifted and San Diego almost went ahead when Kelsey Turnbow’s lofted shot hit the upright before being deflected outside by teammate Katie Johnson. Angel City’s Tyler Lussi received her marching orders in the 79th minute after a second yellow card but that did not deter the ten players left to snatch a lead two minutes later.
Claire Emslie found on the right by Cari Roccaro’s cross to put her chance past Telford. Casey Stoney’s charges could have levelled scores for the second time but DiDi Haracic was on hand to tip over Abby Dahlkemper’s header and preserve the win in the 86th minute. A win that keeps the LA side firmly in a play-off spot and an outside chance to top the table.
Washington Spirit’s woeful run in the league stretched to 11 games without being on the winning end after suffering yet another 1-0 defeat at the hands of Kansas City Current.
The sole goal in the game came through Cece Kizer in the 68th minute to stretch their Current’s unbeaten run to six games at Segra Field. In a game with few chances for both sides, the second half offered the best action of the evening with Elyse Bennett missing a point-blank header in the 54th minute from a Hailie Mace cross.
Washington’s best chances at the time came within a minute of each other when Tara McKeown won the ball off Addisyn Merrick before her shot was saved by Franch between the sticks. The resultant corner found Amber Brooks whose looping header was cleared off the line by Current wingback Del Fava. The 23-year-old was involved on the other end with the game-changing delivery to find Kizer who bundled in a bobbling ball.
The home side had a chance to equalise in added time when they were awarded a penalty. Tiyana Alexander, who had been fouled failed to convert the spot-kick with Franch guessing right to maintain another clean sheet in the tank.
Late Sunday evening saw a double header with the second derby of the weekend at Lumen Field where OL Reign and Portland Thorns played out a 2-2 draw. This was the same result in Chicago after the Red Stars came back from two goals down to earn a point against North Carolina.
In Seattle, Portland had an early lead against the run of play. A gift from Reign who had a miscommunication in defence leading to an own goal by Phoebe McClernon. Less than a minute later, the home side made amends through Olivia Athens. The game eventually settled and Portland dominated possession for a majority of the first half.
On the hour mark, Yazmeen Ryan and Meghan Klingenberg linked up before the latter floated in a cross that found a rushing Hina Sugita to put the visitors ahead. Portland eased off the gas and Reign to over dominating possession which eventually led to the equaliser through Bethany Balcer. The 25-year-old found space in between defenders and ahead of Bixby in Thorns goal to head in her fourth goal of the season.
North Carolina Courage found themselves in the lead against second-placed Chicago Red Stars in the 22nd minute through Carson Pickett. Chicago had a chance to equalise through captain Dibernado but her searing shot could only rattle the crossbar. Courage doubled their lead four minutes after the break when Brittany Ratcliffe tapped in from close range.
Chicago upped the game after going down and a couple of close attempts by Sarah Griffith either went wide or saved by Rowland in the Courage goal. Ava Cook also had a chance after getting past defenders but her shot went over. Griffith finally got her goal in the first minute of added time lobbing Rowland and setting up the game for a grandstand finish. And that is exactly what happened as defender Amanda Kowalski grabbed the equaliser right at the death with a towering header to preserve Chicago’s charge for the Shield.
Here is how things stand following this round of fixtures.