Full slate of games on tap this weekend as all teams are back in action this weekend in week two of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Saturday, April 23
Chicago Red Stars vs. Western New York Flash
What Happened Last Week
Chicago traveled to Houston to open the season and returned home with 1-3 loss. Christen Press was the goal scorer for the Red Stars.
Western New York opened the season on the road as well, visiting defending champs FC Kansas City. The Flash returned home winners after Sam Mewis converted a late penalty kick.
What to Watch For: Chicago
Chicago’s back line wasn’t in top form last week against Houston. This week the line squares off against one of the fastest teams in the NWSL at their new home digs in Toyota Park. Can Arin Gilliland and Casey Short dictate play on the flanks? They’ll need to do so if the Red Stars want to take away points.
What to Watch For: Western New York
Can the Flash’s new front three score in the run of play? Last week, there wasn’t a lack of chances for the Flash, and to be fair, Nicole Barnhart played extremely well. But the Flash face a Chicago team no doubt upset about how its opening-day festivities went, and will be looking to eliminate mistakes after allowing three goals.
Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash
What Happened Last Week
New kids on the block Orlando Pride traveled to Portland to open up its first season in the NWSL. The anticipated matchup featured the return of former Thorn Alex Morgan. The Pride struck first, off a Steph Catley free kick, for the club’s very first goal. Portland, however, regrouped and found the back of the net twice to send the new kids back to Orlando with a 1-2 loss.
Houston opened up the season at home and with a convincing 3-1 win over Chicago. The rookies led the way for the Dash as Rachel Daly and Janine Beckie opened up their account with goals in the 22nd and 54th minute, respectively. Daly notched an assist after serving a gorgeous ball to Carli Lloyd, who headed it home in the 51st minute.
What to Watch For: Orlando
Will head coach Tom Sermanni make any changes in his lineup following the club’s inaugural match? Orlando’s midfield seemed a bit overwhelmed at times against Portland, leaving the back line with a lot to deal with throughout the game and resulted in two unanswered goals after a great opening goal. The back line, despite the two goals, was
What to Watch For: Houston
What an opener for the Houston Dash. Can rookie, and NWSL Player of the Week, Rachel Daly maintain her excellent form into week two? Also, will Morgan Brian make her first appearance of the season for the Dash? Last week’s win was without Brian so a return to the lineup will only add to the momentum the Dash are starting build. If Brian returns, who moves to bench?
FC Kansas City vs. Portland Thorns FC
What Happened Last Week
The two-time defending champions opened up at home with a 0-1 loss after a Becky Sauerbrunn handball in the box yielded a penalty kick in the 71st minute. It’s the second season in which the Blues have dropped lost their opening match. But, hey, they seem to bounce back pretty well, championships and all.
Portland opened at home with a 2-1 win over Orlando. It took awhile for the Thorns to get going after conceding in the first 15 minutes but the equalizer came from rookie Dagný Brynjarsdóttir in the 25th minute. Lindsey Horan found the back of the net in the 82nd minute for the game-winner.
What to Watch For: Kansas City
How long does the slow start last? Admittedly, Kansas City has struggled out of the gates the past few seasons and still finds a way to make the playoffs and then win it all. Portland isn’t an easy opponent to face after your first loss, but both teams are clearly still finding their identity with lots of new personnel.
What to Watch For: Portland Tobin “bleeping” Heath. As eloquent as Thorns head coach Mark Parsons was in describing the Thorns best avenue for success, he is right. Heath was nearly unstoppable in Portland’s opener last week and if she can have her way against the Kansas City midfield, which is still a work in progress at this point, the Thorns can make it two-for-two to begin the season.
Sunday, April 24
Sky Blue FC vs. Washington Spirit
What Happened Last Week Sky Blue headed to Seattle to face a perennially stacked Reign team and came away with a 2-1 win to snap the Reign’s unbeaten home streak at Memorial Stadium. The goals game from welcome-back debutant Natasha Kai and rookie Kelly Conheeney.
Washington opened up at home with a 1-0 win over Boston. Joanna Lohman scored in the third minute to open up the league’s historic fourth season with a bicycle kick. The Spirit were unable to convert on its chances, however, and the score held.
What to Watch For: Sky Blue
Amazingly, we can already start asking if Sky Blue is for real? With goals from two rather unlikely sources, Sky Blue upset Seattle AT Seattle. Can the goal scoring be sustained? Also, Raquel Rodriguez looked a bit overwhelmed in her debut, leaving Sarah Killion with a lot of work to handle, which Killion did in a Player-of-the-Week type of performance that often goes overlooked. Will Rodriguez show a bit more this week?
What to Watch For: Washington
Diana Matheson, substitute? It was floated that Matheson may have been left out of the starting XI due to Canada’s recent game, but with the front three of Estefania Banini, Katie Stengel, and Crystal Dunn looking strong in game one you have to wonder where Matheson fits into the equation going forward this season.*
*Uh, no we don’t. She belongs on the field. — Brandi
Boston Breakers vs. Seattle Reign FC
What Happened Last Week Oh, Boston. The Breakers traveled to the nation’s capital and returned home unfortunate losers after a 0-1 loss. The loss extends the Breakers’ road woes, and brings the away-losing streak to 13. However, the Breakers weren’t run out of the park and after settling down, looked quite capable.
Seattle opened up at home with a 1-2 loss to Sky Blue. The loss snapped an unbeaten home streak at Memorial Stadium. Despite combination play from Kim Little and Jess Fishlock that resulted in the Reign’s lone goal from Merritt Mathias, Laura Harvey’s side never really looked like the Reign team that is used to dominating and dictating play.
What to Watch For: Boston
How long can Boston weather the storm against an angry Seattle Reign squad? The Breakers allowed their first goal of the season just three minutes in, but then settled down and kept the Washington Spirit off the board for the rest of the match. Even if the defense holds, where is the offense? The Breakers finished the game with two shots on goal.
What to Watch For: Seattle
The Reign will put the bad memories from their first match behind them and what will help is getting a couple of goals early. They weren’t clinical in finishing their chances against Sky Blue and that hurt them. This week, don’t be surprised if the Reign throws everything forward in the first 15-20 minutes to make life difficult for Boston’s back four.