Impetus’ Blaise Ogutu brings us his detailed weekly round-up of all the action from the NWSL (11/8/22).
Above: Racing Louisville’s Nadia Nadim shoots past Washington’s Kelley Ohara. Photo: @ericcrawford/Twitter.
Round 13 of the NWSL brought us another installment of comebacks, high-scoring games, and stunning quality goals. Here is how things panned out across the States.
Friday night had two games on the cards. First, Racing Louisville hosted the Washington Spirit at the Lynn Family stadium. Ashley Hatch’s goal midway through the second half cancelled out Nadia Nadim’s opener as both teams failed to secure a win again. Racing Louisville, playing their second game in three days after a draw against OL Reign had the first real attempt of the game with Nadia Nadim’s right foot shot parried away by Aubrey Kingsbury in the 22nd minute. Trinity Rodman had a chance for the Spirit on the opposite end but her header while peeling off on the back post could only be tipped over by Katie Lund.
Nadia Nadim did open the scoring seven minutes into the second half with a left-foot shot past the outstretched Kingsbury. The lead only lasted ten minutes as Jordan Baggett took advantage of Louisville switching off at the back. She found Hatch whose first touch was a side-foot shot into the bottom corner beating Lund. Racing could have had the winner in the 70th minute through Gemma Bonner’s header but it was flagged for offside meaning both teams dropped a further 2 points.
The other game later on Friday had high-flying Portland Thorns held by a resilient North Carolina Courage in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Providence Park. Portland opened the scoring eight minutes in through Sophia Smith. Courage forward Debinha lost the ball under pressure from the Thorns midfield leading to Smith on the attack, dribbling past two defenders before slotting her attempt past Casey Murphy. The home side then doubled the lead through Morgan Weaver. Capitalising on another Courage mistake, Portland’s Hina Sugita’s first attempt was saved by Murphy but Weaver was closest poking the ball home.
North Carolina came back in the second half a much better side with Diana Ordonez nearly pulling one back but Bella Bixby was on hand with a top drawer save to deny the Mexican. She wouldn’t be denied much longer as on the hour mark, Ordonez did slice the lead to half with a header from a Carson Pickett corner.
Parity was restored ten minutes later, Ordonez yet again with another towering header on the end of Ryan William’s cross. Sophia Smith responded in the 77th minute notching her brace for the night. Running on to a well-weighted pass by Olivia Moultrie, Smith timed her run to beat the defenders and round the goalkeeper to get her 11th goal of the season. Bella Bixby was again called to action with a double save to deny Jaelene Daniels a minute afterwards. The fullback did however get the better of Bixby with five minutes of normal time remaining. Finding space in the box, Daniels finished a well-coordinated sequence led by Meredith Speck to make it 3-3 on the night.
There was no game on Saturday and action resumed on Sunday with four other games. The Kansas City Current rolled into San Diego and came out with a 2-1 win over Wave FC at the Torero Stadium. Cece Kizer added to her tally in the campaign finding the opener in the 28th minute. On the end of a good ball by Kristen Hamilton, Kizer beat Naomi Girma on the right before finding the far post past Kailen Sheridan in the Wave goal. Current extended their lead six minutes from halftime courtesy of Hailie Mace. Wave defenders didn’t close her down on the edge of the area and Mace found herself with enough space and time to bend her shot into the back of the net.
In the second half, Wave plugged away to get back into the game but it was Kansas City with the chance to further extend their lead with a penalty. Newest recruit Maddison Pogarch fouled substitute Elyse Bennett in the box and Lo’eau LaBonta stepped up for the spot-kick but was denied by Sheridan who expertly saved her second penalty in successive games. Wave did get one back through Amirah Ali’s delayed run and clinical finish but it was too little too late as the Current took all three points.
In Chicago, the Red Stars hosted NY/NJ Gotham FC and ran out easy 2-0 victors at the SeatGeek Stadium. A first half goal from Tatumn Milazzo deep into stoppage time put the home side ahead. Millazzo managed to beat Caprice Dydasco at the far post on a header after Gotham failed to clear their lines from a corner kick. Ava Cook put the game beyond Gotham’s reach in the 66th minute scoring an uncontested header into the bottom left corner piling onto the visitors’ set-piece woes.
At the same time across the nation in Seattle, Houston Dash came from a goal behind to beat OL Reign 2-1 and claim their first away victory ever against Laura Harvey’s side in the NWSL. Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring with her first of the season in the 17th minute. Kim Little’s pass found the winger open on the left side and with a slight bounce, Rapinoe’s left foot shot flew past Campbell’s diving body.
Juan Amoros’ charges came back into the second half with renewed vigour and a high press led to a penalty as Reign midfielder Quinn handled the ball in the box. Ebony Salmon calmly dispatched the spot kick for her fifth of the season and two minutes later, silenced the home crowd with her second of the evening. The English youngster was found on the run by a brilliant Shae Groom outside-boot pass and her first-time volley beat Phallon Tullis-Joyce in Reign goal to complete the comeback. With the win, Dash coach Amoros became the first coach to win three of their first games and subsequently denying Laura Harvey a chance to be the coach with the most wins in NWSL history.
The final game of the evening and weekend was down south in Florida as Orlando Pride came from behind twice to earn a point against Angel City FC. In a tame first half, Angel City opened proceedings on a rain-soaked Exploria Stadium through Ali Riley. Having a free run on the left wing, she rifled her shot into the roof of the net in the 40th minute.
The second half kicked off with Orlando forward Darian Jenkins missing from very close as she saw her header agonisingly bounce on the ground and over the bar in the 48th minute. She was substituted for Julie Doyle whose first involvement of the game was the equaliser in the 64th minute. She pounced on a loose ball from Savannah McCaskill in the box before her snap shot beat DiDi Haracic at the near post.
Angel City went ahead in the 72nd minute through Cari Roccaro’s second goal of the season. Off a corner by Jun Endo, Roccaro found herself in space to sort out her feet quickly and let her attempt fly. Orlando battled hard and got their reward in the 90th minute when winger Keri Abello’s fierce cross cannoned off Paige Nielsen into the back of the net for an own goal and grab a point for Seb Hines’s side.
A few changes in the table following this round of results as Portland take the top spot and Gotham slip to 11th behind Washington.