With most national team players now scattered around the globe in preparation for the World Cup just weeks away, this past weekend marked the first batch of National Women’s Soccer League regular season matches without its most recognizable stars.
With so many big names away, the time for squad depth to be tested has come. Here’s how the weekend played out:
Mana Shim returns to the NWSL
An entertaining nil-nil draw was in the cards on Sunday between Gotham and Angel City. Gotham had the better chances of the match, with three shots on goal compared to the visitor’s one.
The best moment of the night, however, came when Mana Shim was subbed in just after the hour mark. Shim – who played an instrumental role in pushing for systemic change in the NWSL – signed a short-term injury replacement contract on June 25th. It was her first appearance in the league since June 3rd, 2018.
The point continued Angel City’s positive trajectory since the dismissal of head coach Freya Coombe. They’ve now earned four straight results in all competitions under coach Becki Tweed, including one win and two draws in league play, and a win in the Challenge Cup.
Michelle Cooper calmly converts the penalty
Tenth place Kansas City Current grinded out a win at Providence Park on Saturday night against the sixth place Portland Thorns. This is what makes the NWSL so fun – anyone can beat anyone on a given day, especially when national team stars are away.
Despite the Thorns having far and away the advantage in shots and shots on goal (26 shots, 9 on goal) compared to the visitors (5 shots, 3 on goal), things turned sour for the home side when Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg gave up. a penalty kick after the half-hour mark for taking down current forward Alexa Spaanstra. Michelle Cooper stepped up to give her team the lead with a smooth, well-weighted finish past Bella Bixby.
Late drama in Seattle
OL Reign made a gritty comeback from a two-goal deficit on Saturday to draw Racing Louisville 2-2.
Wang Shuang opened the scoring for the visitors before the half-hour mark, and Racing looked to have things all locked up after Paige Monaghan scored an insurance goal in the 76th minute.
But the Reign seemed to get a jolt of energy with just ten minutes remaining in the match. Elyse Bennett was the star of the home team’s comeback, as she assisted Veronica Latsko’s 82nd minute goal, and scored one of her own just minutes later. Her equalizer was a cool, flick-on header with her back to goal:
For Racing, it was a disappointing end to a promising night, and continues a troubling trend of the team giving up points late when in a winning position.
Chicago breaks losing streak with close win
Last placed Chicago defeated sixth place San Diego on Saturday, courtesy of a first-half stoppage time winner by Ella Stevens. Stevens’ goal was the definition of a pin-point header:
With the loss, the Wave’s unfortunate slump continues. They have now lost three league games in a row, with last week’s Challenge Cup loss to Angel City added in to make it four.
Orlando dominates in DC
Orlando thoroughly defeated Washington on Saturday by 3 goals to nil. Pride midfielder Julie Doyle had a brace en route to the win, while the Spirit knocked in an own goal to put a comeback out of reach.
The loss was the Spirit’s first of the season at home, while on the flip side, the three goals were the Pride’s biggest margin of victory so far this season.
Tyler Lussi scores a stunner
Tyler Lussi got her second game-winner in a row on Saturday in her side’s 1-0 win over the visiting Dash.
Lussi followed up last week’s winner against Louisville with a rocket of a shot that beat Dash keeper Jane Campbell from a wide angle.