This weekend the National Women’s Soccer League became the first top flight professional women’s league in the United States to last into season four, outlasting the WUSA and the WPS, neither of which survived past year three.
The U.S. Soccer-backed NWSL played a full slate of games over the weekend with all 10 teams seeing action, including expansion side Orlando, who dropped a 2-1 decision to the Portland Thorns.
Let’s take a look at that result and all the rest scores from Season 4- Week 1 in the NWSL.
Home teams listed first.
Seattle Reign 1-2 Sky Blue FC
With a new coach, Christy Holly, and six NWSL debutantes, Sky Blue FC were long shots going into Sunday’s season opener in Seattle. Oh, and did I mention that the Reign had never lost at Memorial Stadium?
No, well, that’s okay, the have now. Two of the six league newcomers accounted for the Sky Blue goals, although Tasha Kai, who scored the opener, is anything but a frightened rookie.
The 32-year-old is a former U.S. WNT Olympic and World Cup veteran that chose to step away from soccer after a WPS stint that included a stop with the WPS version of Sky Blue FC. And what did Kai do to keep fit during her soccer sabbatical? She played rugby with the U.S.A. 7’s.
So frightened? No.
Kelly Conheeney scored the other Sky Blue goal just about a month after impressing Holly at an open tryout. And then there is goalkeeper Karen Casey. The 2016 3rd round draft choice is coming off of an All-American season at Wake Forest University, so she is not unaccomplished. It’s just that the Reign are backstopped by the All-World keeper Hope Solo, so Casey had to be pleased to outperform the World Cup and Olympic Gold Medal winner.
FC Kansas City 0-1 Western New York Flash
In another surprise result on Saturday, The Western New York Flash defeated two-time defending league champion FC Kansas City on a 72nd-minute penalty kick by U.S. WNT defender Sam Mewis.
Mewis’ national team co- captain Becky Sauerbrunn got caught out on a handball to give WNY the break it needed to erase the goose egg from the visitors side of the ledger and the Flash escaped the midwest with the win when another U.S. international, Heather O’Reilly banged her stoppage time free kick off of the post.
Houston Dash 3-1 Chicago Red Stars
The Red Stars scored first after just 13 minutes via U.S. WNT star Christen Press but the Dash were not to be denied in front of a crowd of 7,440 fans at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium.
Houston’s GM/coach duo Brian Ching and Randy Waldron had three first round picks in the 2016 NWSL Draft and if opening day is anything to go by the Dash picked wisely.
6th pick Rachel Daly scored the equalizer 22 minutes into her debut, before setting up FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Carli Lloyd in the 51st minute. Daly also had a role to play in Houston’s third goal, scored by the number eight pick in the first round of the Draft, forward Janine Beckie.
Daly was recognized as the NWSL Player of the Week for her efforts as the Dash laid down a marker with a decisive first win of the season.
Portland Thorns FC 2-1 Orlando Pride
Portland fell behind 2-1 in the 12th minute on a Steph Catley free kick, with the defender earning the honor of scoring the first goal in Orlando history. The Thorns fought back, giving the crowd of 16, 073 plenty to cheer about as goals by Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Lindsey Horan claimed the spoils for the home team.
Portland’s revival was sparked by playmaker Tobin Heath, who assisted on both Portland scores. Portland coach Mark Parsons revealed after the game that he fired up his troops with a halftime speech reminding that, “we’ve got *%#$* Tobin Heath.”
Washington Spirit 1-0 Boston Breakers
Midfielder Joanna Lohman gave the Washington Spirit a 1-0 lead just three minutes into Saturday’s opener with a spectacular bicycle kick goal that Spirit made it hold up to give coach Jim Gabarra a win in his first game since moving down I-95 after coaching Sky Blue.
2015 MVP and goal-scoring leader Crystal Dunn turned provider Saturday when she crossed for Lohman’s acrobatic strike.
|Sky Blue FC||3||1||1||0||0||2||1||1|
|Portland Thorns FC||3||1||1||0||0||2||1||1|
|Western New York Flash||3||1||1||0||0||1||0||1|
|Seattle Reign FC||0||1||0||1||0||1||2||-1|
|FC Kansas City||0||1||0||1||0||0||1||-1|
|Chicago Red Stars||0||1||0||1||0||1||3||-2|