This week’s NWSL Roundup brings us from last Friday, through the weekend and all the way around to a pair of Wednesday night games.
Three teams played twice during this extended window, with the North Carolina Courage continuing it’s perfect run with a pair of victories while the Chicago Red Stars kept pace with two wins of their own and the Seattle Reign split a pair, including a 1-0 midweek loss to the Courage.
But even with all of that happening the biggest news of this edition of the NWSL Roundup may have taken place Friday night in Utah where the Royals drew a sellout crowd of 19,203 to Rio Tinto Stadium for the club’s first ever home match in Sandy, Utah.
Utah Royals 0-1 vs Chicago Red Stars
Chicago won the match on a superb long-range blast from Danielle Colaprico but the story of the day, the story of the week, was the crowd, a crowd that outdrew MLS matches hosted by Philadelphia, New York Red Bulls, Colorado Rapids, DC United, New England Revolution, San Jose Earthquakes, and Sporting Kansas City.
Congratulations to the Utah Royals, now we have to see how close the Royals supporters can come to maintaining that level of interest.
Washington Spirit 2-4 vs North Carolina Courage
North Carolina Courage 1-0 vs Seattle Reign
The North Carolina Courage to continued to roll right through its NWSL opposition with a high scoring away win over the Spirit on Saturday before returning to Cary to grind out a nail-biter over the Reign Wednesday evening.
Jessica McDonald tallied the lone goal of the match in the 70th minute and it would be enough to keep the Courage perfect at 5-0-0. It was a far more freewheeling affair when the Courage visited the Spirit, where backed by a pair of goals from McCall Zerboni and one each from Crystal Dunn and Lynn Williams, the Courage bested the Spirit despite strikes from Mallory Pugh and Francisca Ordega.
Sky Blue FC 0-1 vs Seattle Reign
The week began on an up note for the Reign with a 1-0 road win over New Jersey, secured by a penalty kick goal from Megan Rapinoe. Pinoe stuck early when a fifth-minute handball gave Seattle an early break on a wet and windy day in Piscataway, New Jersey.
The goal would hold up for Seattle but the victory would come at a price when Rapinoe left the pitch in the 57th minute with a hamstring strain that forced the USWNT star to missed Wednesday’s showdown versus league-leading North Carolina.
Actually, the Pinoe Effect was felt sooner than that by the Reign when Jodie Taylor’s pk was saved by Sky Blue keeper Kaelin Sheridan in the 86th minute, a peno that Rapinoe would no do doubt have taken if she were she still on the pitch.
Portland Thorns 2-1 vs Orlando Pride
It was homecoming day for the 2017 NWSL Champion Portland Thorns and the champs weren’t about to let a bit of rain ruin their day, sending the 16,466 fans that attended home happy after a 2-1 comeback victory over winless Orlando.
The Pride stuck first when Chioma Ubogagu finished superbly from a fine set up from Christine Nairn after Nairn intercepted a quickly taken Portland free kick in the 20th minute.
The lead would last just eight minutes, however, thanks to Lindsey Horan who started and finished a Thorns attack with a strong run at the Pride defense before kissing a long-range effort in off of the post on a final pass from Christine Sinclair.
The Portland stars reversed roles in the 39th minute when Horan teed up Sinclair for the Canadian legends league-leading third goal of the season, which was also the game-winner.
Chicago Red Stars 3-0 vs Houston Dash
Chicago opened the NWSL week with that 1-0 win in Utah and bookended that victory with a 3-0 triumph at home versus the Houston Dash.
The atmosphere at Toyota Park offered a stark contrast to the Red Stars win in Utah with this match played on a frigid, snowy night in Bridgeview, Illinois in front of just over 2,000 brave fans while over 19,000 supporters were on hand to mark the Royals debut in Utah.
As for the action, the Dash was in the hole early when an attempted clearance by Kristie Mewis ended up in the Houston goal just seven minutes into the match. Chicago extended that lead on a rebounded effort from Lauren Kaskie just four minutes later. Congratulations to Kaskie, the goal was the first of her NWSL for the second year player.
Those two early goals would be too much for the Dash to recover from and Sofia Huerta made sure of that with a headed goal 16 minutes from time.
The loss is the first for Houston, who opened the season with back to back draws, while the Red Stars improved to 2-1-1, good for second in the league at this early stage.