If the opening weekend shows any indication of what is to come this season, the third season of NWSL should be a delight.
Four games were played over the course of this weekend with an average attendance of 7,632, up from the average attendance of 4,132 of last year’s opening weekend.
The Chicago Red Stars were the team to miss out on the action, as they were the first team on a bye week.
Houston Rebound From Disappointing 2014 Season With Win Over Washington
Since finishing last season at the foot of the table, the Houston Dash have made many significant moves and trades to make sure there isn’t a repeat in 2015.
Carli Lloyd, one of the new signings, made sure that Houston got off to a flying start as she fired in a typical, long-range shot off the cross bar and over the line to give Houston a lead with seconds remaining of the first half.
Lloyd, who has fired in many powerful shots over the years for club and country, received the ball from #1 overall draft pick Morgan Brian on the left wing, dribbled toward the center of the field, before falling backwards as she put the ball past a helpless Ashlyn Harris in goal.
Kealia Ohai added an insurance goal in the 51st minute, robbing a defender of the ball 35 yards out and dribbling towards goal. Bearing down on goal, Ohai cut inside and fired past Harris to give the Dash a 2-0 lead that would hold for the remaining 39 minutes, good enough to give Houston their first win since July 11th.
Portland Rout Boston In Front of 13,386 Fans
With playmaker Veronica Boquete gone and forward Christine Sinclair missing form the lineup, you could have forgiven the Portland Thorns if they did not get off to a great start in 2015.
That was not the case, as Meleana Shim served up two assists and scored a goal and Allie Long scored a double to give Portland a 4-1 win over the Boston Breakers.
Sinead Farrelly and Shim gave Portland a 2-0 halftime lead, with Farrelly poking home from a corner kick and Shim slotting home from Kendall Johnson’s cross.
Stephanie McCaffrey, who was picked by Boston as the #5 overall pick in the NWSL College Draft, scored a peach of a goal, curling the ball home from the edge of the box to cut the Thorns’ lead in half.
Allie Long, who was second on the team with 9 goals last year, scored a brace in the second half, both goals coming from great passes from Shim.
The first was a great chip over the defensive line from Shim, with Allie Long taking the ball and slotting past the 2014 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, Alyssa Naeher.
70 seconds later, Long was celebrating again, as she took a through ball from Shim, stutter-stepped her way towards goal before putting the ball beyond Naeher.
The opening-day victory left the 13,386 fans ecstatic and hoping that the Thorns can claim the NWSL title they won in the inaugural season in 2013.
Defending Champions Kansas City Fall At Home To Sky Blue FC
Nadia Nadim, Sky Blue FC’s leading goal scorer from last season, scored the lone goal as FC Kansas City lost their opening game in front of 8,489 fans.
It was a spectacular finish from a tight angle that gave Sky Blue FC a 29th minute lead, which caused the first upset of the young season.
Nadim ran onto a ball lifted over the Kansas City defense by Meg Morris and lashed the ball past Nicole Barnhart from a tight angle.
Amy Rodriguez, Lauren Holiday, and co. could not find the back of the net, despite having 15 shots to Sky Blue’s 5.
Rapinoe Scores Hat-trick In A Rout Of The Flash
Seattle’s offense picked up where it left off, scoring 5 goals in a defeat of the Western New York Flash.
The two sides recently took part in a blockbuster trade, which saw the rights to sign Abby Wambach traded to Seattle in exchange for U.S. WNT forward Sydney Leroux.
Jessica Fishlock grabbed the first goal in the 25th minute when she volleyed home a cross from U.S. midfielder from Megan Rapinoe.
The second half brought with it five goals, the first of which came from Beverly Yanez. Kim Little, who led the league in goals last season and won the MVP award, played a perfect through-ball to Yanez, who shot low, hard, and across goal to double the Reign’s lead in the 53rd minute.
Jordan Angeli gave the Western New york Flash hope of a come back when her shot from six yards hit the post and went past Hope Solo, but Rapinoe made sure it was all for naught as she scored 3 goals in the last 19 minutes of the game to put the result beyond doubt.
Merritt Mathias’ cross found a leaping Rapinoe, who climbed highest to head the ball home.
Rapinoe, who is not known for scoring headers, scored another with her noggin after Fishlock had two shots blocked in succession. The second shot was saved by Flash goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo, but as the ball was coming down, Rapinoe got a head to it to give the Reign a 4-1 lead with 16 minutes left to play.
Rapinoe capped off her hat-trick in the 86th minute when a great give-and-go with Fishlock put her through on goal, from which she slotted past a helpless D’Angelo.
Seattle set a record last season with 50 goals scored and it looks like they want to break the record again.
Top Three Goals of Week One
Every week, GotSoccer will give you the top three goals of the week. We will factor in skill, difficulty, and importance to determine the top three finishes of the week.
#3: Stephanie McCaffrey (Boston) vs. Portland Timbers 4/11/2015
Even though the scoreline was lopsided in the end, McCaffrey’s goal came at a time when Boston was down by two and gave the Breakers a chance at getting a point. As for the goal, we’ll let the video speak for itself.
#2: Carli Lloyd (Houston) vs. Washington Spirit 4/10/2015
Despite making plenty of moves in the offseason, Houston nearly went into halftime deadlocked with the Spirit. That was until Lloyd’s shot hit the top right corner and went in. It proved to be the winner as Houston won 2-0.
#1: Nadia Nadim (Sky Blue FC) vs. FC Kansas City 4/12/2015
The only goal in a 1-0 victory on the road is always going to be important, but the finish by Nadim from such a tight angle means that her goal is GotSoccer’s favorite out of the 14 goals scored over the course of the weekend. Nadim’s celebration says it all.