Emphatic Wins for the North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns highlighted the week that was in the NWSL. Here is the weekly review, including the goal of the week and three things we learned.
Entering this past weekend, the Portland Thorns found themselves outside of the playoff places in the National Women’s Soccer League table.
Having won the NWSL title last season, it was the cause of some concern for one of the favorites to win it all again this year.
A tough Friday match against a resurgent Houston Dash side was a test to see if the Thorns were indeed in trouble. The result put to rest any thought of the Thorns’ ability to win matches in big situations. A 3-1 win victory puts the defending champions in a three-way tie for third place based on points in the table.
The North Carolina Courage entered Saturday’s marquee matchup against the Seattle Reigns with a one in the loss column in the table for the first time this season. Their 1-0 shock defeat to the Utah Royals at home the week prior put the top club in the NWSL under the microscope.
The top two clubs did not disappoint as they produced a thoroughly entertaining match that resulted in a massive 4-1 win for the Courage. Crystal Dunn led the way for the Courage scoring a brace and extending the lead at the top of the table to 11 points.
Orlando Pride took advantage of the Reign’s loss with a win of their own to take sole possession of second place. A brilliant long-range shot from Australian Alanna Kennedy proved to be the difference.
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The Chicago Red Stars answered their counterparts with three points against the Utah Royals. A 2-0 clean sheet result for Alyssa Naeher throws the Red Stars right into the three-way tie for third place in the table.
Here’s where things stand at the end of the week in the table.
- North Carolina Courage-33 pts
- Orlando Pride-22 pts
- Seattle Reign-19 pts
- Portland Thorns-19 pts
- Chicago Red Stars-19 pts
- Utah Royals-17 pts
- Houston Dash-14 pts
- Washington Spirit-10 pts
- Sky Blue-2 pts
Goal of the week
Alanna Kennedy’s stunning strike against the Royals is well deserving of the goal of the week honors. It will undoubtedly be one of the top goals of the entire season.
Three things we learned
3. Huerta immediately opens her account with Dash
Following her trade to the Dash last week, Huerta was placed right into the starting XI for her new club. The United States international wasted little time getting on the score sheet and found the back of the net in the 12th minute. She could have an even bigger impact at Houston and may be able to grow as a top player in the NWSL if her form continues.
2. Courage put to rest any doubt
Talk about a statement win for the Courage. The club showed why they are the best in the league and the team to beat in their dominance of the Reign. Their loss to the Royals appears to be just a small footnote in what could be an incredible and historic season.
1. Third place race could be too close to call for a while
With the way this season has been panning out it appears that third and fourth place will be closely contested for quite some time. Three teams are level on points with 19 apiece and occupy place three through five.
The Dash cannot be forgotten in sixth place and just five points off the pace. One of these clubs has to start separating themselves soon or later, or there could potentially be three or four teams still with a shot to make the playoffs.