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  • Sophie Lodes

NWSL Matchday 3 Recap

Week 3 wrapped up in the NWSL with plenty of chaos. The San Diego Wave finally beat the Reign in the clash of coolers. Orlando and Racing Louisville have drawn three straight matches. Three different matches saw important goals scored at the death, with Houston and San Diego winning off a 90+10 and a 90+8-minute goal respectively. KC Current’s Video Assistant Referee (VAR) monitor is in a Yeti Cooler. It’s a week three recap that will take you less time to read than some of the VAR decisions this weekend.

 

Bangers By Mallory Swanson, Temwa Chawinga, and Racheal Kundananji

If there’s one truth about the NWSL, it’s that in a seven-match weekend, there’s going to be bangers. Down a goal to Orlando Pride in the 64th minute of their match, Mallory Swanson stepped up to score her first goal in over a year.

 


Post-match, Jenna Bike, who flipped the ball over to Swanson for the goal, declared “you make our team better. Having you back after last year is such a blessing.

 

Historic goals kept coming this weekend, with Temwa Chawinga becoming the first Malawian player to score in NWSL history. Having been a problem for Angel City’s defense all game, a poor turnover in the final third gave Kansas City the ball back with plenty of space. A perfect through pass found Chawinga on the far side who took a few touches and then lifted the ball into the back of the net to restore Kansas City’s two-goal lead.

 


History wasn’t done being made either. With the clock (seemingly) winding down and an 87th-minute Diana Ordóñez strike giving the Houston Dash the lead, Bay FC appeared destined for the loss. Except, in the 93rd minute, Racheal Kundananji took a touch to bring herself into the box on the right side before unleashing a laser into the far post, past the reach of Jane Campbell, and into the side netting. Not only was Kundananji the first Zambian player to play in the NWSL, she is now the first to score a goal.

 


Patented NWSL Chaos Notes and It’s Time to VAR, VAR

Although playing a midday match, the Washington Spirit certainly created a little chaos of their own against the Utah Royals. 16-year-old Chloe Ricketts looked set to come in for the Spirit, only to have not been listed on the game day roster and thus not eligible. All’s well that ends well for the Spirit, as they took three points from the match and saw Trinity Rodman become the all-time assists leader for the club.

 

The Portland Thorns versus Racing Louisville match saw Uchenna Kanu score the fastest brace in league history with goals in the 3rd and 6th minute. Those early goals would, unfortunately for Louisville, result only in a draw as Sam Coffey found the back of the net for Portland in the 99th minute to tie the game 2-2. Portland is still without a win so far this season.

 

The biggest talking point of the weekend wasn’t about the wins, losses, or draws. Or even that Kansas City and Chicago remain on top of the table and undefeated after turbulent seasons last year. No, instead, prolonged VAR reviews dominate discussions around NWSL matches.

 

The KC Current versus Angel City game saw two relatively extensive VAR reviews that added significant stoppage time to the match. The Chicago-Orlando game also saw an extensive review for a potential denial of a goal-scoring opportunity that ultimately upheld the call on the field. This has been a recurring storyline this season, with video reviews interrupting the game flow and being added back in as lengthy stoppage time numbers.

 

With player health at the forefront of women’s soccer discussions, the lengthy VAR reviews and 10+ minutes of stoppage time that accompanies them is something to keep an eye on as the league moves towards games played in the summer heat and playing time starts to accumulate. The excessive stoppage time isn’t always tied to a VAR review either, which makes the issues related, but solving one won’t necessarily solve the other.  

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