NWSL Week 2 Round Up
In another exciting weekend full of soccer, we saw a rematch of the 2022 Championship Game, three multiple goal-scorers, wild weather affecting gameplay, the return of an NWSL legend, and a late-game-winning goal. Surprisingly, only one of the six home teams won their games this weekend. During a week that was full of off-field news, we saw some early frontrunners emerge, while some teams still have yet to gel.
Behind Sophia Smith’s hattrick, Portland proves its prowess
During Saturday’s early game, the Kansas City Current hosted a record crowd of 11,301 at their home opener in a rematch of last year’s Championship Game against the Portland Thorns. While Crystal Dunn scored her first goal since May of 2021, Sophia Smith had this season’s first hattrick in a truly exceptional performance, scoring in both halves to quiet the Kansas City faithful. Despite Kansas City’s CeCe Kizer scoring off of a header in the second half, they were unable to mount a comeback. Portland is off to a prolific start, beating Kansas City 4-1 and notching eight goals in their first two games. The reigning NWSL Champions sit atop the leaderboard and look like the team to beat.
Three teams get their first wins of the 2023 season
The Houston Dash took down the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 during windy conditions in Illinois. The Dash’s star-studded attack, consisting of María Sánchez, Diana Ordóñez, and Ebony Salmon, combined beautifully to score early against Chicago. Ordóñez would later score again on a penalty kick after VAR review confirmed a penalty inside the box. Chicago got some help from an own-goal that went off of Houston’s Natalie Jacobs, but ultimately they could not find any success in the attack. A goal-line save from defender Allysha Chapman secured the victory for Houston on the road.
OL Reign handed NJ/NY Gotham FC its first loss in a handy 2-0 victory at Red Bull Arena. The Reign, who often struggle with finishing their chances, did not falter on Saturday. After a long delay due to weather, Gotham truly felt the Reign- Jess Fishlock and Bethany Balcer scored a goal apiece against the home team. Yazmeen Ryan was a bright spot for Gotham fans, and Midge Purce had a few dangerous shots, but their chemistry was not quite there. Towards the end of the match, Gotham was visibly frustrated, even wasting a late-game corner due to poor communication. This disjointed performance did not hold up against a cohesive Reign unit.
Angel City scored a late game-winner to defeat the Orlando Pride 2-1 in a heartbreaker during the lone Sunday game in Orlando. The Pride had the better of the chances in the first half, but a penalty was awarded to Angel City’s Alyssa Thompson at the end of the half, and Claire Emslie knocked it home to put the visitors up. Rookie Messiah Bright scored her first goal in the NWSL for the Pride to make it even. However a late-game surge saw wave after wave of Angel City attack, and a goal felt inevitable. Despite Emslie missing a second penalty kick, Angel City scored off a corner when Katie Johnson headed the ball past keeper Anna Moorhouse to secure the win in the 100th minute.
A brace of braces
Racing Louisville came back from an early two-goal deficit to earn a 2-2 draw against the visiting Washington Spirit. The Spirit controlled the game in the first half on a two-goal brace from Ashley Hatch. However, Racing gave their fans something to cheer about when they scored early in the second half on a header from Abby Erceg. NWSL newcomer and Brazilian international Ary Borges scored a rocket of a goal to level the game, and goalie Katie Lund kept Racing competitive throughout the game, making many big saves. The first red card of the year was issued to the Spirit’s Paige Metayer in the waning minutes of the game, but a draw felt like the deserved ending to this hard-fought match.
Alex Morgan’s two-goal performance at Snapdragon Stadium led the San Diego Wave past the North Carolina Courage. The Courage looked strong in the beginning of the game, but keeper Kailen Sheridan proved tough to beat. Young star Jaedyn Shaw scored her second goal of the year to put the home team up towards the end of the first half. Morgan would score twice in the second half to extend San Diego’s lead. However, a penalty called against defender Naomi Girma in the box resulted in the Courage’s lone goal, scored off of a beautiful penalty kick taken by Kerolin. Ultimately, San Diego looked at ease beating the Courage 3-1, and they slot into second place in the standings.
NWSL Draftee’s mother alleges mistreatment by Kansas City Current
Off the field this week, 2023 third-round draft-pick Mykiaa Minniss’ mother, Nicole, released a statement detailing the player’s poor treatment by the Kansas City Current. Nicole alleged that her daughter paid for her flight to Kansas City out of her own pocket, had to make her own arrangements to get picked up from the airport, did not receive a meal stipend from the team, and received very little instruction from management. After starting one preseason match with the Current, she was waived on February 28. According to Nicole, when Mykiaa arrived in Florida after being picked up by the Orlando Pride, she had lost 14 pounds and was struggling with her mental health. The Current have not commented, but they could be in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement if they did not reimburse Minniss for her expenses.
Sinead Farrelly makes NWSL Return
Sinead Farrelly saw her first minutes on an NWSL field in nearly eight years for NJ/NY Gotham FC in their match against OL Reign. Farrelly, who signed a one-year contract with Gotham, was instrumental in prompting the 2021 league-wide investigation into systemic abuse and misconduct. By going public with her experience, she joined Mana Shim in exposing former Portland Thorns coach Paul Riley for his sexual harassment. She had previously retired after her experience in 2015.