NWSL 2023 Round Two Wrap

by Blaise Ogutu (4/3/23)

Portland and San Diego remain undefeated and more in NWSL Round Two

Above: Portland Thorns players celebrate after scoring against Kansas City Current. Photo: Portland Thorns.

The Portland Thorns made light work of Kansas City Current with a 4-1 victory away from home in a repeat of last season’s Championship Final.

Portland took the early lead through Crystal Dunn following a short corner three minutes into the game. The Thorns had Kansas on the ropes early on with a flurry of chances after going ahead.

Current relented under the pressure as Sophia Smith was brought down by rookie Gabrielle Robinson inside the 18-yard area. After a lengthy VAR check, Smith got the decision and slotted her spot kick in the bottom left corner beyond Adrianna Franch’s reach.

French kept the scores respectable when she denied Smith’s left-footed shot with her shins for a corner and another barrage of chances in the first half.

Current’s start to the second half was much improved as they made forays into Portland’s half with Mace almost combining with Michelle Cooper in the 48th minute only for the rookie to sky the chance. Kate Del Fava found herself with a chance to half the deficit a minute later but she too skied her chance.

The home crowd did find a reason to cheer when Cece Kizer headed in a free kick at the back post on the hour mark after relentless goal-chasing.

Despite the spirited fightback in the second period, Sophia Smith put the game to bed. Dribbling past a sea of defenders, the 22-year-old managed to stay balanced and squeeze her effort past Franch.

The 2022 MVP then completed her first senior hat trick with two minutes of normal time remaining with a sublime finish from just outside the area.

Above: Racing Louisville’s Abby Erceg contests a set-piece against Washington Spirit. Photo: Racing Louisville.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Racing Louisville came from two goals down to earn a point at home against the Washington Spirit. A first-half brace from Ashley Hatch had put the team from the capital ahead in the opening period before Abby Erceg halved the deficit for the home side within a minute of the second half.

The equaliser came in the 65th minute through Brazilian Ary Borges who pounced on a loose ball to find the back of the net with a superb volley.

In other matches across the day, Houston Dash condemned Chicago Red Stars to their second defeat of the season with a 2-1 win at the Seatgeek Stadium in Chicago. Goals from Maria Sanchez and Diana Ordonez on either side of a Natalie Jacobs own goal secured the points for Dash as the two attackers made history becoming the first Mexican teammates to score in the same game.

Gotham FC slumped to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of OL Reign in a game that had a delayed start due to weather conditions. Jess Fishlock and Bethany Balcer were on hand to give Laura Harvey’s side their first three points of the season.

San Diego Wave made it two wins out of two with a 3-1 over the North Carolina Courage at the SnapDragon stadium. Teenager Jaedyn Shaw opened the scoring in the 39th minute with her second goal of the season while Alex Morgan continued her scoring streak from last season with a second-half brace before Kerolin Nicoli scored Courage’s consolation from the spot with thirteen minutes remaining.

Above: Angel City’s Alyssa Thompson (left) and Orlando Pride’s Emily Madril battle it out. Photo: NWSL.

Sunday evening served up a tense battle between Orlando Pride and Angel City FC as both teams were looking to register their first points of the season.

A frantic opening half saw neither team dominate but Angel City drew first blood when Claire Emslie dispatched her penalty in the 39th minute. Coming out of the tunnel after the break, Orlando had renewed energy and got their reward when rookie Messiah Bright burst through her markers and snuck her effort past DiDi Haracic in Angel City’s goal to restore parity.

The game would descend into chaos in the final minutes when the away side were awarded another penalty after a lengthy VAR check but Emslie saw her attempt matched up by Anna Moorhouse in Pride goal.

Deep into stoppage time, Angel City would steal the three points through substitute Katie Johnson’s near-post header to beat an on-rushing Moorhouse. 

Table From: NWSL.

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