Do you like goals? Yes? Well then, this past weekend was not the one for you in NWSL action. On the other hand, if you are from the defense win championships school you will have been thrilled with a slate of games featuring three shutouts from four matches.
As always home teams first.
Houston Dash 0-0 vs Utah Royals
In a sign of things to come Houston hosted Utah on Friday night to kick off the NWSL weekend with a match that left the scoreboard operators entirely untroubled. With five saves Dash keeper Jane Campbell had a little something to do with that while the visiting Royals never managed a shot on April Smith’s goal.
The tie was the second in as many games for each of the teams leaving the clubs level with two points apiece in fifth and sixth place in the league standings.
North Carolina Courage 1-0 vs Sky Blue
Despite an overwhelming 23 to 3 advantage in shots taken the North Carolina Courage had to wait for a 92nd minute tally from substitute Jessica McDonald to claim a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sky Blue FC.
McDonald ran onto an exquisite through ball from Jaelene Hinkle to beat the Sky Blue defense before using the cool that has earned her 36 career NWSL goals to round Kailen Sheridan to set up a composed finish.
The game was the first of the season for Sky Blue as well as the NWSL coaching debut for the New Jersey outfit’s new boss Denise Reddy. Reddy will have been pleased with the play of another Sky Blue debutante, Carli Lloyd, with the USWNT superstar giving a good account of herself at the first time of the asking for her home state club.
The Courage move to 2-0-0 in the early days of the 2018 season, notching a second consecutive clean sheet in the process.
Washington Spirit 2-0 vs Orlando Pride
It took a while but the Washington Spirit eventually located their shooting boots as a pair of late goals from Mal Pugh (80’) and Ashley Hatch (88’) proved too much for the depleted Orlando Pride Saturday in Orlando.
The Pride was minus its dynamic duo with both Marta (international duty) and Alex Morgan (concussion protocol) missing out and those losses would unsurprising prove to be too much for Tom Sermanni’s side to overcome.
The win is the first of the young season for the Spirit, who move to 1-1-0 while the Pride remains winless after a draw in the season opener.
Chicago Red Stars 2 -3 vs Portland Thorns
With several players missing for both teams and with the Thorns minus suspended coach Mark Parsons, Portland edged Chicago in the second game of a Toyota Park doubleheader that saw the MLS representatives of the same cities draw 2-2 in the opener.
In what proved a lively finish to the NWSL weekend a brace by Canadian superstar Christine Sinclair was matched by one from the Red Stars Alyssa Mautz with the difference in this match turning out to be a ninth-minute strike from Portland’s USWNT star Lindsey Horan.
The five goals in the match were two more than the rest of the league combined.
Parsons was suspended by the league for two games for confronting an official following the team’s opening 1-0 loss to North Carolina. It means that, pending appeal, the coach will miss out on Portland’s home opener April 15 versus Orlando.
Chicago travels to Utah for an April 14 matchup with the Utah Royals, the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime.
The NWSL is on international break until April 14.