Three NWSL Clubs Sit Atop Leaderboard
The second week of the 2019 season concludes with a three-way tie for first place. North Carolina Courage, 2018 NWSL Champions, recorded a win and draw during Week 2, while the Houston Dash and Utah Royals FC each recorded a win over the weekend.
NWSL Soccer News: Week 2 of the 2019 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Season comes to a close with three clubs tied for first place.
The second week of NWSL action kicked off with a midweek matchup between the North Carolina Courage and the Orlando Pride at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The Courage defeated the Pride, 5-0, led by Crystal Dunn who recorded two goals and an assist in the victory. Lynn Williams, Jessica McDonald and Julia Spetsmark each tallied a goal on the night.
In the opening match on Saturday, the Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns FC played out a thrilling 4-4 draw at SeatGeek Stadium in Illinois. Yuki Nagasato notched a brace for the Red Stars, while Christine Sinclair recorded a hat-trick for Portland in the match.
In the 16th minute, the opening goal came off a stunning pass and finish by Portland. Lindsay Horan collected a ball with her chest, let it take one bounce and served a pass over the back line to Sinclair. The 35-year-old calmly volleyed the ball over Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher for the lead.
Two minutes later, Nagasato recorded the equalizer for Chicago from the penalty spot after Portland was called for a handball in the box. Samantha Kerr put the Red Stars ahead in the 20th minute to give the visiting club a 2-1 advantage. Kerr dispossessed defender Emily Sonnett outside Portland’s 18-yard box and sent a low strike into the back of the net.
In the 33rd minute, a Meghan Klingenberg cross from the left flank found Ana–Maria Crnogorcevic for the headed finish. Klingenberg recorded her second assist in the 51st minute with a cross into the penalty area that Sinclair tapped in. Portland led 3-2 with 39 minutes left of the match.
Michelle Vasconcelos brought the match level with 13 minutes left of regulation. Julie Ertz received a pass into Portland’s penalty box and served a low cross to Vasconcelos for the one-time finish.
In the 87th minute, Sinclair recorded her hat-trick from the penalty spot after Margaret Purce was taken down in the box. Portland held a 4-3 advantage heading into the final minutes of play.
Chicago brought the match level in the 90th minute with Nagasato on the scoring end. A deflected shot from Kerr bounced to Nagasato who kneed the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.
The match ended a 4-4 draw to close out a thrilling night in Chicago. Portland has recorded one win and one tie in 2019, while the Red Stars have tallied two draws.
In the second Saturday matchup, the Houston Dash defeated Sky Blue FC, 1-0, at Yurcak Field in New Jersey.
The difference in the match was an own goal by Sky Blue FC in the 83rd minute of play. A failed clearance at the top of Sky Blue’s penalty area set up Sofia Huerta for the left-footed strike that deflected into goal.
Houston dominated the night with 54.7% possession and 11 shots on target. Sky Blue FC recorded one shot on goal in the loss.
The Houston Dash has recorded one win and one tie this season, while Sky Blue FC has recorded two losses.
Utah Royals FC opened its season with a 1-0 victory over the Washington Spirit on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
In the 10th minute, an impressive dribbling effort and pass from Christen Press set up Lo’eau Labonta for the finish. Press deflected a pass out of Washington’s defensive third and collected the ball on the left sideline. With her back to the sideline, the forward dribbled at her defender and then took a touch into the penalty area towards the end line. Press used her speed to get around her defender and then cut another to her right towards the penalty spot. As two more defenders closed in, Press found an unmarked Labonta at the top of the penalty area for the low, one-time finish.
Utah Royals FC come out the weekend with three points in its first match of the 2019 campaign. The Washington Spirit has recorded a win and loss in its first two matches.
In the lone Sunday matchup, Reign FC and the Orlando Pride played to a 1-1 draw at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington.
A highlight reel finish by Alanna Kennedy put the visiting club on the scoreboard in the sixth minute of action. A free-kick into the penalty area was headed straight up by the Reign defense. Kennedy pounced on the opportunity and scored an impressive bicycle kick to the far post.
Bethany Balcer scored the equalizer in the 21st minute of play. Allie Long shielded a deflected ball into the path of Balcer for the placed finish to the bottom, far post.
Reign FC has tied its opening two matches, while Orlando has recorded two losses and one draw.
Supporters can watch the matches by downloading the Yahoo! Sports or NWSL apps.
Header Photo Credit: ISI Photos