Week two has come and gone in the NWSL, so let’s go around the league.
Four of the five league contests took place Saturday with just Sky Blue at Boston saved for Sunday, so let’s begin with Saturday’s goal fest in Seattle. As always, home teams listed first.
Seattle Reign 5-1 vs Houston Dash
Playing at home for the second week in a row the Reign gave the home fans at Memorial Stadium plenty to cheer about in Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Houston Dash.
Megan Rapinoe’s stunning volley gave further indication that the U.S. WNT star is approaching her world class form but Pinoe was far from the only bright spot in the Reign’s demolition of the Dash.
Five different Reign players rang the bell against Houston with Jess Fishlock getting the rout rolling in the 18th minute with an assist from Christine Nairn. Nine minutes later Fishlock turned provider with a perfectly floated pass that Rapinoe met with a skillful volley. It was Goal of the Week stuff from the controversial attacker as well as part of a very productive day for Fishlock who took home NWSL Player of the Week honors for her performance.
Kristen McNabb, Beverly Yanez, and Katlyn Johnson all added goals before Houston defender Poliana’s 84th-minute consolation tally for the Dash.
North Carolina Courage 1-0 vs Portland Thorns
What is in a name, or indeed a geographical location? Not much if we are to go by the early season performance of the North Carolina Courage, who won the NWSL championship last year as the Western New York Flash.
After opening the 2017 campaign with a road win at Washington the Courage made its home opener at the newly christened Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park a memorable one for the 6,298 fans on hand, topping a very good Portland side 1-0.
Debinha, one of the few newcomers to the relocated champions, broke the deadlock in the 81st minute on a setup from Jessica McDonald and with Sabrina D’Angelo and the Courage defense pitching a second consecutive shutout the former Flash continued its perfect start to life as the Courage.
Orlando Pride 1-1 vs Washington Spirit
It was a day of firsts in Orlando on Saturday when the Pride played the Washington Spirit to a 1-1 draw in the club’s debut at the sparkling new Orlando City Stadium. An enthusiastic crowd of 14,452 were on hand to witness the home team’s first game at the home the Pride now share with the Orlando Lions SC and that crowd was also treated to the team’s first goal, the first of rookie Danica Evans’ career, Marta’s first appearance for the Pride, and the team’s first point at Orlando City Stadium.
Evans’ 84th-minute goal matched the Spirit’s 60th-minute tally from Lina Sigvardsen Jensen and gave Marta a late chance to play the familiar hero role, alas the Brazilian legend fired her added time effort just wide of Stephanie Labbe’s net.
Chicago Red Stars 1-0 vs FC Kansas City
With a new name on her back midfielder, yes midfielder, Julie Ertz, formerly Johnston, finished a well-placed cross from Sofia Huerta to the back of the FCKC net for the first and only goal of the match to give the Red Stars its first win of the 2017 season.
Ertz, who you may be more familiar with as a U.S. WNT defender, was clearly enjoying the freedom of her advanced role and just eight minutes after scoring, it was Ertz who earned the Stars a penalty kick.
U.S. WNT striker Christen Press failed to convert the spot-kick but with Chicago’s third U.S. national teamer Alyssa Naeher solid in between the posts Chicago closed out the win.
Boston Breakers 1-0 vs Sky Blue FC
The prize for a dismal 2016 in which the Boston Breakers won just three games and tied only two to go along with 15 defeats was the first selection in January’s NWSL Draft and Boston was more than happy to snap up Rose Lavelle with that pick.
The Breakers had four first round picks in L.A. also selecting Morgan Andrews, Ifenoma Onumonu, and Margaret Purce. All four have seen action already this season with Purce starting the Breakers opening week 2-0 loss at FCKC but Lavelle is the obvious centerpiece.
Since hearing her name called before any other back on January 12 in Los Angeles Lavelle has been busy establishing herself as an important piece of the U.S. WNT as a quick and intelligent attacker, whether out wide or in her preferred central role.
On Sunday, Lavelle showed a glimpse of her many skills when she sent Natasha Dowie in alone on Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan and the Breakers were on their way to a W.