NWSL Week 4 is in the books and the two-time defending champions FC Kansas City still hasn’t won, the Washington Spirit still haven’t lost and the Boston Breakers remain the only club without even a single point earned in 2016, so, with that in mind let’s take a closer look at the weekend’s results.
FC Kansas City 1-2 vs. Houston Dash
We knew coming into the season that the FCKC would miss retired World Cup winner Lauren Holiday, and pregnant strikers Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux, who are both unavailable, though I’m not sure how many expected the double defenders to find themselves in ninth place in the 10 team league after four rounds of NWSL play.
But after conceding two late goals to fall to the Houston Dash at home on Saturday that is precisely where Kansas City finds itself.
The Dash have some injury issues of its own, most prominently Carli Lloyd’s injury, but Lloyd’s U.S. WNT partner Morgan Brian returned to go 45 minutes on Saturday, and U.S. Youth star Cari Roccaro made a late cameo for her first appearance since being drafted by Houston.
With that said the star of the day, and the league’s Player of the Week, was Chioma Ubogagu, the London-born, Texas raised Stanford and U.S. Youth WNT star, who left the Arsenal Ladies club to take a crack at the NWSL.
Ubogagu scored one goal and assisted on Houston’s opener by Denise O’Sullivan, the Irish woman making her second substitute appearance for the Dash.
FCKC didn’t play like a team searching for its first win, with Mandy Laddish, in particular, peppering the Houston goal. Laddish was robbed more than once by Hope Solo’s former national Team understudy Nicole Barnhart and Laddish also was narrowly wide a long-range curler that had Barnhart stranded.
Boston Breakers 0-1 vs. Chicago Red Stars
And that bring us to Allston, Massachusetts where two teams going in very different directions continued on those paths as the visiting Chicago Red Stars shut out the struggling Boston Breakers 1-0.
A Christen Press goal was all the Red Stars needed to claim a third straight 1-0 victory, this one over the anemic Breakers, who have yet to score a goal in the 2016 season.
With the first half winding down Kristie Mewis missed a golden opportunity to end that dismal streak when her pk rattled off the post and then off of Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
That miss would come back to haunt the home side in the 60th minute when Christen Press scored her league-leading third goal of the season (tied with Diana Matheson, Wash. Spirit).
Washington Spirit 0-0 vs. Portland Thorns
The aforementioned Matheson was unable to find the net on the weekend for Washington and the Spirit could not maintain perfection, playing to a goalless draw at home on Saturday to the Thorns.
2015 NWSL MVP and leading scorer Crystal Dunn did put the ball in the Portland net but her first half effort was waved away for offside.
Portland is the league’s only team other than the Spirit yet to suffer a loss, coming out of Saturday’s encounter with a record of two wins, no losses, and two ties from this game a game that was played with an edge.
The Thorns silky smooth U.S. WNT midfielder Tobin Heath was judged to have stepped over that edge when she was handed a second yellow card late in the match. Emily Sonnett and Lindsey Horan joined their teammate Heath in the referee’s book along with the Spirit’s Megan Oyster.
The two combative clubs will try to get back in the win column next Saturday with Washington hosting high-powered Houston while the Thorns will make the short trip to Seattle to face its Cascadia rivals, the Reign.
Sky Blue FC 1-2 vs. Western New York Flash
Rounding out Saturday’s NWSL schedule WNY spotted New Jersey side Sky Blue a first half lead before turning the tables with a late brace, traveling home to the Rochester area with the full complement of points.
Sky Blue took that lead on 35th-minute goal crafted by a pair of former Nittany Lions, with Maya Hayes finishing from a Raquel Rodriguez, the second pick in the 2016 NWSL Draft, who continues to impress.
A pair of U.S. WNT Olympic chasers took care of the scoring for WNY as Jaelene Hinkle converted a penalty kick to tie the match in the 72nd minute and Sam Mewis bagged the winner just four minutes from full time.
Orlando Pride 2-0 vs. Seattle Reign
Expansion side Orlando Pride earned the club’s first shutout on Sunday at Camping World Stadium, the Stadium formerly known as The Citrus Bowl, topping the Reign 2-0.
8,211 fans turned out the recently re-christened grounds, down from the record-breaking 23,403 that witnessed the team’s home opener two week’s ago against Houston.
As big a drop as that is, 8,000 plus is a big turnout for an NWSL match and once again Tom Sermanni’s side treated the home fans to a victory, sandwiching last week’s 1-0 loss at Chicago between a 3-1 win over Houston and Sunday’s shutout victory over the Reign.
Alex Morgan’s name doesn’t show up in the goals column from Orlando’s victory but the national team mainstay was influential for the Pride, assisting on Sarah Hagen’s 12th-minute goal and taking the shot that produced the rebound that Lianne Sanderson put behind Hope Solo in the 87th minute to seal the result.
Solo’s U.S. WNT backup Ashlyn Harris kept the clean sheet, as she battles Red Stars shutout machine Alyssa Naeher for the number two spot behind Solo in Rio this August.