It was a big week in NWSL play with some star turns around the league, so let’s start with a showdown in Houston where five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta faced off against two time, and current POY Carli Lloyd.
Home teams listed first.
Houston Dash (2-6) 2-4 vs Orlando Pride (2-3-3)
In her first game back with the Dash after a stint with Manchester City, Lloyd started and went 72 minutes, although the U.S. WNT legend was eclipsed by her Brazilian counterpart Marta, who finished her day with two goals and two assists.
Marta’s first helper set up fellow Brazilian Camila for a wonder goal struck from about 40 yards and placed in the top corner of the Houston net.
It was an unstoppable shot and unstoppable was the word for visiting Orlando as the Pride ran out to a 4-0 lead before Houston clawed back a couple of late goals to give the final scoreline a more respectable look.
It was quite a day for Brazilian players, with Houston’s first goal coming from Poliana, assisted by Andressa in the 89th minute while Canadian Nichelle Prince added a second Dash score in the 96th minute on a setup from Andressa.
North Carolina Courage (7-3) 3-1 vs Boston Breakers (2-5-2)
The Breakers, and for that matter the NWSL, received a bit of bad news when rising U.S. WNT star Rose Lavelle limped off in the final minutes of the national team’s 1-0 win over Norway last week, ruling Lavelle out for four to six weeks with a hamstring injury.
First place North Carolina had injury woes of their own with deadly strike duo Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald sidelined but the defending champions showed admirable resolve and impressive depth receiving a brace from Kristen Hamilton and a second goal in two games from Ashley Hatch.
Boston, meanwhile clearly missed its young star Lavelle, falling behind the Courage 3-0 with just a 73rd-minute goal from Adriana Leon standing between the Breakers and a shutout.
Chicago Red Stars (5-2-2) 1-1 vs Washington Spirit (2-5-2)
Two teams with mirror image records got together in Chicago and in the end, the 2-5-2 Washington Spirit had to be happier with the result than the 5-2-2 Chicago Red Stars.
With the Spirit missing dynamic 19-year-old Mallory Pugh due to what has been termed a minor ankle injury, picked up on U.S. WNT duty, the visitors took a 1-0 lead just before the intermission.
Francisca Ordega finished from Cheyna Williams to give the Spirit that lead in the 42nd minute but it was always going to be a challenge for Washington to hold off the star-studded, ehm Stars, for the final 45 plus.
That proved to be the case when Christen Press, coming off of a very impressive outing for the U.S. WNT versus Norway, earned and converted a penalty kick in the 82nd minute.
Press’ goal was a bitter blow to the Spirit but Washington can’t be too unhappy with taking a point on the road from Chicago, undefeated at home and riding a six-match streak without a loss.
FC Kansas City (3-3-3) 2-2 vs Seattle Reign (3-2-4)
The Seattle Reign has never defeated FC Kansas City on the road, so when Nahomi Kawasumi broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 82nd minute Reign fans must have thought that Saturday might be the day.
Alas, it was not to be. That 2-1 Seattle lead would last but three minutes when Maegan Kelly got her head to a Yael Averbuch blast to level the match.
The home side had taken an early lead on Alexa Newfield’s 23rd-minute goal. Megan Rapinoe leveled just eight minutes later and that would be it for the scoring until that late flurry.
Portland Thorns (4-2-3) 1-3 vs Sky Blue FC (5-4-1)
Led by a brace plus an assist from Samantha Kerr and a record-setting goal from Rachel Rodriguez after just 25 seconds had ticked off the referee’s whistle.
In front of 16,736 fans at Providence Park, the visitors ran out to a 3-0 lead with Kerr completing her brace with tallies in the 70th and 88th minute rendering Christine Sinclair’s stoppage time goal mere window dressing.