Fulltime battles resulting in wild chances
Every game this weekend needed to be watched in full, with the majority of the action taking place in the second halves and during stoppage time. It seemed the league wanted to keep everyone on their toes, saving all the show-stopping moments for the end.
The Courage battled it out with the Spirit, who ultimately pulled out the victory thanks to a Hatch penalty kick. But the second half was hard fought for the Spirit who had to work extra hard to hold onto their lead. Chicago put themselves up by four against the Current, but Kansas City found a way to recover in the second half with a Debinha chip and a Larsson goal, ending the game with two goals of their own. In the latest possible win, Gotham beat Orlando by two, earning themselves the two latest NWSL goals in history from a Purce penalty kick and a Williams 106th minute tap in.
Giant clashes end in surprising ties
Opening the weekend at home, the Thorns were stifled by the Dash, who were determined to have an impact in Portland. It seems as though they might have found a solution for the Sophia Smith problem, handling the ball very well in an exciting midfield clash between Schmidt and Coffey. Crystal Dunn still found a way, as did María Sánchez, and the teams ended up sharing the points in a 1-1 draw.
In another meeting of giants a little way down the coast, Racing took to the road this weekend to take on Angel City in a game that surprised everyone. Thanks to an early penalty kick, Savannah DeMelo put Racing up by one in the third minute, starting the momentum for the away side who were up by two at halftime. But ACFC wasn’t done yet, coming back out with a different mindset and fighting to earn the tie, getting two late goals past the sixty-minute mark courtesy of Katie Johnson and Savannah McCaskill.
Final home opener results in joy for the home side
The last home opener of the season concluded in dramatic fashion as the Reign pulled off the win against San Diego. This game was a battle of keepers, with Phallon Tullis-Joyce and Kalien Sheridan showing up big time and making spectacular saves all night long. The Reign were the more aggressive side, relentless in their attack as they took shots all night long. Megan Rapinoe made her season debut, taking two shots at goal during her second-half playing time. The Wave didn’t let the chances didn’t go unanswered though, with Alex Morgan taking some of her own shots at goal, but Tullis-Joyce denied her any points. The victory came in dramatic NWSL after dark fashion as hometown hero Olivia Van Der Jagt rocketed in her first goal to win the game for the Reign.
Milestones on Milestones
Along with all the in-game action, several milestones were reached by players during this third weekend. Abby Erceg reached 150 regular season appearances while Emily Sonnett reached 100. Alex Morgan and Caprice Dydasco both reached 10,000 minutes played. Ashley Hatch reached her 40th career goal. Lynn Williams reached her 59th career goal, tying her with Christine Sinclair for the second-most goals scored in NWSL history. The Reign saw record-breaking attendance at their home opener, with 9, 219 fans in the stands. In another Reign milestone, Tullis-Joyce ties for the most clean sheets for the Reign, with eleven so far.
Streaming issues caused fans to miss out on Saturday's opening matches
While the league was full of action and surprise this weekend, it’s a miracle that it made it to air considering the chaos of the first forty-seven minutes of play on Saturday night. The scheduled 7pm EST Paramount Plus live streams for the opening matches, Spirit versus Courage and Gotham versus Orlando, didn’t go live until over forty minutes into the first half. It was a frustrating experience for fans who wanted to watch these games, and a disappointment to a league that is trying to prove that they’re worthy of being the best in the world. It’s still unclear exactly what the issue was, and no further information has been provided to ensure it won’t happen again. While there was plenty of entertainment from team admin updates on Twitter, it’s disheartening to see the league having these issues eleven years into its existence.