NWSL Roundup
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Mallory Pugh’s decision to begin her professional career with the Washington Spirit was the big story of the weekend and then on Monday news broke that a union has been formed to represent the league’s non-allocated players.

Mallory Pugh talks to the media at Washington Spirit’s press conference. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

In a press release, the group states, “we are proud to announce the official formation of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association. We, the Non-Allocated Players of NWSL, vow to build on the opportunity that has been afforded to us, as well as work to achieve those goals that have not yet been attained.

Membership into the NWSL Players’ Association is available to all active non-allocated players in the league, as well as all amateur players currently on NWSL rosters.”

In between, there was plenty of on-field action, so let’s have a look at this week’s NWSL Roundup.

Home teams listed first.

Orlando Pride (1-2-2) 3-1 vs North Carolina Courage (4-1)

Normally we like to honor chronology in our Roundup but when we have a match that features one team’s first loss and another’s first win we are willing to break protocol.

And that is just the scenario that played out Sunday evening in Orlando when the Pride handed the previously perfect Courage their first loss of the 2017 season while the home team picked up its first W of 2017.

The decisive action of the match occurred during frantic three-minute flurry from minutes 49 through 51 that saw three goals somehow squeezed into that tiny window of time.

Chioma Ubogagu celebrating her goal. (ISI Photos/Jeremy Reper)

The hosts opened the scoring first through Chioma Ubogagu, who finished from a defense eluding cross from Ali Krieger and then from Camila from a Jamia Fields helper.

The Courage showed the, well, courage to battle back from that one, two punch, answering with a Debinha blast on the 51-minute mark after Orlando’s goals went into the book in the 49th and 50th minutes.

We had to wait seven minutes for the next decisive moment of the game which came when North Carolina captain Abby Erceg committed a second bookable offense and was shown to the sideline, leaving the Courage chasing a one-goal deficit with just 10 players.

The result was settled in the 82nd minute when burgeoning supersub Jasmyne Spencer finished from Marta, a reverse of last week when Spencer assisted on Marta’s inaugural NWSL tally.

With that out of the way, let’s get back to Saturday’s results.

Seattle Reign (2-1-2) 6-2 vs Washington Spirit (1-3-1)

If ever a team was in need of a marketable star in the mold of Mallory Pugh it is the 2017 Washington Spirit as we saw in Saturday’s drubbing at the hands of the Seattle Reign.

In fairness to the Spirit, they ran into something of an unstoppable force on Saturday at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium in the person of Nahomi Kawasumi, who would finish the match with a personal tally of four assists, a league record, and one goal.

But the 2011 World Cup winner was hardly alone, Kawasumi combined particularly well with one of her international rivals, first scoring from a perfectly placed pass off the boot of U.S. star Megan Rapinoe in the 69th minute before returning the favor to tee up Pinoe two minutes later.

Rapinoe looks back to her best. (ISI Photos/Jane Gershovich)

It really was an overwhelming display by Seattle with Christine Nairn, Beverley Yanez, and Lindsey Elston adding goals of their own to Rapinoe’s brace and Kawasumi’s finish.

Seattle was in irresistible form versus Washington and not even Pugh would have figured to turn the tide, then again, she couldn’t have hurt.

Houston Dash (2-3-0) 1-3 vs Sky Blue FC

Lifetime sent their camera’s down to Houston for Saturday’s Game of the Week only to see the Dash fall to a 3-1 defeat to New Jersey-based Sky Blue.

Sky Blue were just too strong for Houston. (ISI Photos/Trask Smith)

The Sky Blue attack was paced by Australian star Samantha Kerr who played a part in all three of the visiting team’s goals. First with the game knotted at zero Kerr took a boot to the face to earn her side a penalty kick in the 33rd minute. With Kerr having done the hard part, Sarah Killion put the pk away and Sky Blue was on their way.

Kerr then assisted in a more conventional manner when she set up Leah Galton to give the Blues a two-goal advantage and then after Poliana halved the Dash deficit in the 76th minute, Kerr quashed any comeback hopes the home team may have harbored when she turned finisher three minutes from time.

FC Kansas City (1-2-2) 0-0 vs Portland Thorns (2-1-2)

Settling for draws can be a dangerous habit in soccer as points left on the table have a way of coming back to haunt teams when the tabulations are made at season’s end.

FC Kansas City and the Portland Thorns may be contemplating that math after the two sides played to a 0-0 tie Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri after each of the clubs had also drawn its previous match.

Adrianna Franch made and amazing save to hold on to a point for her team.(ISI Photos/Thad Bell)

Both sides had chances to break the deadlock on Saturday and Kansas City star Sydney Leroux must still be wondering exactly how Adrianna Franch was able to get a glove to her 65th-minute chance from point blank range.

The final roll of the dice fell to Portland in the 90th minute but FCKC defender Yael Averbuch came up with a big clearance from a goalmouth scramble to send both sides home with a point a piece – and a potential math problem.

Chicago Red Stars (2-2-1) 1-1 vs Boston Breakers (2-2-1)

Talk about evenly matched. In the final match of the NWSL weekend, Chicago and Boston finished all even at 1-1 to find themselves tied up in the standing with seven points.

Neither team could separate itself on Sunday, although the home team did have its chances. After falling behind on birthday girl Rose Lavelle’s second goal of the season in the 69th minute- Happy 22nd! – Chicago drew level when Christen Press headed home in the 89th minute on a fine Sofia Huerta cross.

Press should have finished her chances. (ISI Photos/Daniel Bartel)

It was the first of the season for Press but Lavelle’s U.S. international teammate could well have finished her day with a hat trick. In the 78th minute, Press had a blast at goal from a rare indirect kick inside the 18-yard box after a Boston back pass to keeper Abby Smith.

Press’ shot caromed off of someone in the crowded Breakers goal to safety. Then, after her late leveler, Press had a chance four minutes into added time but was unable to beat Smith.

About Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan is a staff writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, covering MLS and other US leagues, He's GotSoccer's chief National Team Correspondent.
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