In the midst of a crowded season, all but two NWSL sides played Wednesday night after weekend matches and that is ahead of a full slate of matches this weekend, so let’s see who did what this past week.
The defending champion North Carolina Courage, as the Western New York Flash, was one of just two NWSL teams to have Wednesday off, Washington was the other, and the Courage enjoyed that respite from the top of the league standings.
NCC visited last place Boston on Saturday and came away with a 1-0 win on an Ashley Hatch goal. The gulf in class was clear enough between the first place Courage and last-place Breakers, who continue to miss their injured U.S. WNT star, Rose Lavelle.
Boston bounced back somewhat on Wednesday evening when they picked up an always valuable road point in a 0-0 draw in Houston.
No club was able to pick up the full six points on offer during the week but two squads did manage to claim four, Houston and Seattle.
It was a nice haul for the ninth place Dash, although Carli Lloyd and co. must have thought the full six was a reasonable goal after beginning the week with a 2-0 win in Houston on Saturday, June 24.
Lloyd scored her first NWSL goal of the season in that victory, a nice bit of instant revenge for the Dash after having dropped a 4-2 decision to the Lions at BBVA Compass Stadium just seven days prior.
Seattle began its busy schedule with a 1-1 home draw versus Kansas City FC before improving on the result with a 2-1 victory over Chicago on Wednesday. Oddly enough both Seattle goals versus the Red Stars came on Megan Rapinoe penalty kicks. Pinoe Penos, if you like. Both matches were at home, so the Reign may be less than thrilled with that four point total.
Chicago ended the week second in the table behind North Carolina, splitting its week with a home win over Sky Blue to go with that loss at Seattle. Chicago spotted the New Jersey side an early lead when rookie Madison Tiernan picked up her first league goal off of corner kick in just the third minute.
The visitors could not make that lead stand up for the remaining 87 minutes, conceding goals to Vanessa DiBernardo in the 63 minute and Sofia Huerta four minutes later.
It was all part of a lost week for Sky Blue, the only team to end up with zero points to show for their efforts from the busy week. Sky Blue had to think three points were in reach when they scored on either side of the halftime break in Wednesday’s home loss to Orlando to overturn the Pride’s 1-0 lead.
Sky Blue’s opener came via a Kelley O’Hara penalty kick but the Jersey girls second was far from routine with Sam Kerr putting the home team ahead with a flamboyant bicycle kick in the 46th minute.
But Orlando bounced back with goals from Marta and Rachel Hill, enough with Chioma Ubogagu’s first half tally to end Sky Blue’s week on a down note.
Washington had a relatively quiet few days, resting easy Wednesday night, having secured three points the previous Saturday in a 1-0 win over Portland at home. The Spirit were without Mal Pugh but managed to get over the line thanks to a 19th-minute goal from Francisca Ordega.
Portland would bounce back from that disappointment with a decisive 3-0 home victory Wednesday against FC Kansas City. Canadian star Christine Sinclair was the star for the Thorns, scoring twice and having a third goal called back for a handball.
Sinclair had a good running mate in Haley Raso, the Australian picked a goal and an assist in Portland’s win.
The busy NWSL continues this weekend with four games on Saturday and one on Sunday night. The Lifetime Game of the Week kicks things off on Saturday, July 1 at 3:30 when North Carolina welcomes a Sky Blue team suddenly in bad need of a win.
With the home teams listed first, here is the rest of the Saturday schedule. All times ET.
Boston Breakers vs Washington Spirit (4:00)
Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars (5:00)
Seattle Reign vs Portland Thorns (10:30)
Sunday, July 2.
FC Kansas City vs Houston Dash