If it could take place on a soccer field, chances are good we saw it take place this weekend in the NWSL. There was plenty of chaos across six enticing matchups including but not limited to the season's second red card, a rain delay game-ender, and a keeper scoring a stoppage-time equalizer. But in all honesty, what else have we come to expect from the NWSL besides unfiltered havoc? Without further ado, let's get into the week five round-up.
Rain Delay Washes Away Houston’s Unbeaten Streak
The Courage traveled down to Texas to open the matches this weekend, taking on Houston at home Friday evening. They struck fast and hard against the Dash, with Kerolin finding the back of the net quickly. Unfortunately, the first goal was disallowed after VAR declared it offside. But the Courage didn’t despair and pressed on to get a point on the board off the foot of Tyler Lussi. This was Lussi’s first goal for the club, and she was assisted by Emily Fox. The Courage outpaced the Dash for the first forty-five and earned a goal out of it. Before the Dash could make a comeback, however, mother nature intervened. The weather in Houston took a turn for the worst, and lightning strikes nearby forced the league to call the game after almost a three-hour delay. The game was abandoned and the Courage were declared victorious based on their first-half goal, taking away Houston's undefeated streak.
The 1000th NWSL Game and Other Important Numbers
Taking place in Louisville, OL Reign facing off against Racing Lousiville on Saturday evening was the 1000th NWSL game in history. NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman traveled to the match to commemorate the milestone with both teams at kickoff and during halftime. The NWSL reaches the 1000th game milestone in its 11th year of existence. Speaking of numbers, Sam Stabb set a new record with 73 regular season consecutive starts for the Spirit. Abby Erceg recorded her 150th NWSL appearance, celebrating the milestone with Racing. Sophie Schmidt also earned her 100th NWSL appearance with her start against the Courage on Friday. The youngest NWSL player to date also made her debut this weekend, when Melanie Barcenas, at 15 years and 181 days, came off the bench for the San Deigo Wave.
If at First You Don’t Succeed, Tie, Tie, and Tie Again?
The 1000th match ended in the most NWSL way possible with a 90-minute equalizer off Jordyn Huitema's head, ending the game in a 2-2 tie. Tying was all the rage on Saturday, as a little further north the Chicago Red Stars and the Washington Spirit decided to follow suit. Their tie was a little less exciting, with a goal for each team. Ashley Hatch continued to deliver decisive penalties and Bianca St-Georges managed to get one back for Chicago before the match was over, the teams splitting the points in the end. The Spirit remain unbeaten, along with the Portland Thorns who also managed to tie their game against Angel City in the most climactic ending possible.
Portland Reminds Everyone That Keepers can be Scorers Too
After Alyssa Thomspon broke away to score the opening goal in the Angel City versus Portland Thorns match-up in Providence Park, it wouldn't have been out of the question for Angel City to run away with this match. But Portland never goes down without a fight and came back to match Los Angeles goal for goal over ninety minutes of back-and-forth action. In the end, the Thorns were down by one in second-half stoppage time and packed Angel City's box with everyone they could muster, including Thorns goalkeeper Bella Bixby. The ball curved into the box and everyone in the stands held their breath as it appeared that Haračić got a hold of the ball. But then it slips from her grip and who's there to backheel the ball into the net for the Thorns? Bella Bixby. The goalkeeper is now the second keeper in NWSL history to score, along with Michelle Betos when she was also with the Thorns.
Unexpected underdog upsets
Rounding out the chaos, there were some phenomenal upsets this weekend. The Wave found out what it was like to lose at Snapdragon as the Orlando Pride rose to the occasion and delivered a 3-1 loss to the home side. Even though the Wave struck first with an excellent Jaedyn Shaw goal, they were unable to keep up with Orlando who continued to deliver into the second half with three different goalscorers across ninety minutes. They walked away with the win because of it, and their first points to get them on the board.
Finishing up the weekend, Gotham FC traveled to take on the Kansas City Current at home, where they would ultimately fall 2-0 to the home side. Gotham had a few chances here and there that they'll be upset they didn't finish, but for the most part, this game was all Kansas City. They appeared on the field a team renewed, bringing back that same never say die energy from last season. They earned their victory in spectacular fashion, with a Debinha brace to entertain their home crowd. Even the impressive defensive efforts of Abby Smith and Ali Krieger weren't enough to stop the Current, who seem to be building momentum that will hopefully follow them through the rest of their season.