NC Courage Claims Top Spot in NWSL
The third week of the 2019 season concludes with North Carolina Courage in first place after three weeks of action. Utah Royals FC continued its upbeat start in 2019 with a second win, while the Chicago Red Stars recorded their first win of the season.
Utah Royals FC defeated Orlando Pride, 1-0, in the opening match of Week 3. Christen Press scored the lone goal in the 19th minute of the match. Press collected a driven ball from Michelle Maemone at the top of the penalty area, took a touch and scored a placed finish to the bottom corner.
Utah maintained 55.6% possession and tallied six shots on goal, while Orlando recorded four shots on target in the match. Utah Royals FC (2/W-0/L-0/T) sits in second place behind the NC Courage. Orlando Pride has yet to record a win during the 2019 campaign (0-3-1).
The Chicago Red Stars recorded a 3-0 home victory over Reign FC at SeatGeek Stadium in Illinois. Yuki Nagasato tallied a goal and assist in the victory, while Casey Short and Brooke Elby each found the back of the net once.
In the 13th minute, Short scored the opener with a stunning finish. The defender collected the ball on the right flank, entered the corner of the penalty area and scored a long-range strike to the back post.
An individual effort by Nagasato extended the lead in the 53rd minute. Nagasato collected a clearance by Reign goalkeeper Lydia Williams, took a touch and found an empty net from 28 yards out for the 2-0 advantage.
In the 89th minute, Chicago scored its third goal of the night to close out the match. An unmarked Elby collected a pass in the penalty box from Michele Vasconcelos and finished a strike on the ground with ease.
The Chicago Red Stars are currently tied for third place (1-0-2), while Reign FC is in seventh (0-1-2).
The hosts were led by Carli Lloyd who scored a brace on the night.Emily Sonnett and Tobin Heath were the markswomen for Portland.
Lloyd scored the opening goal of the match in the sixth minute to give Sky Blue FC a 1-0 advantage. Raquel Rodriguez dribbled past a Portland defender at midfield and served a driven ball down the right sideline to Lloyd. The 36-year-old dribbled down the field into the penalty area and scored a deflected shot for the lead.
In the 18th minute, Lloyd extended Sky Blue’s lead with a lone effort. After intercepting a pass in Portland’s defensive third, Lloyd dribbled into the penalty area past the Sky Blue goalkeeper and finished from a tight angle for the two-goal advantage.
Sonnett leveled the scoreline in the 32nd minute with Christine Sinclair recording the assist. Heath served a free-kick into the penalty area that Sinclair collected and passed to an unmarked Sonnett for the close-range finish.
Heath leveled the match two minutes later with an impressive back-heel goal. A cross from the right flank deflected off Heath and a Sky Blue defender, landing at her feet for the skilled equalizer.
Portland Thorns FC is tied for third place (1-0-2), and Sky Blue is in eighth (0-2-1).
In the final Week 3 matchup, the North Carolina Courage defeated Houston Dash, 4-1, at BBVA Compass Stadium in Texas. The 2018 NWSL Champions were led by four goal-scorers in the match to record their second victory of the 2019 campaign.
Lynn Williams scored the opener one minute into stoppage time of the first half. Williams headed into the net an uncleared ball in the six-yard box for the finish.
A stunning effort from Crystal Dunn extended North Carolina’s lead in the 60th minute. Dunn turned her defender on the left flank, entered the penalty area and scored a long shot to the top, far corner.
Nine minutes later, Debinha collected a blocked cross by the Houston goalkeeper and finished an authoritative strike. In the 76th minute, Williams served a cross into the penalty area for a headed finish by Leah Pruitt and a 4-0 lead.
In the 86th minute, a stunning effort by Rachel Daly cut Houston’s deficit to 4-1. Kyah Simon served a driven ball to Daly who collected the pass with one defender in front of her as she approached the penalty area. The English international cut the defender left and finished a left-footed curling effort to the back post.
North Carolina Courage sit in first place (2-0-1), while Houston Dash is in fifth (1-1-1).
Supporters can watch the matches by downloading the Yahoo! Sports or NWSL apps.
Header Photo Credit: ISI Photos