Watch: 3 Moments

HighlightsMay 23

Goal of the Week: Carli Lloyd

Week 8May 22

Player of the Week: Crystal Dunn

Week 8May 22

Save of the Week: Katelyn Rowland

Week 8May 22

Courage, Zerboni not satisfied despite unbeaten start

FeatureMay 21

Week 8 Power Rankings: Courage, Reign hold on to top spots; Thorns rise to No. 3

Power RankingsMay 21

Week 8 Rewind

HighlightsMay 20

Q&A: Nikki Stanton, Chicago Red Stars

FeatureMay 17

Washington Spirit sign forward Mallory Eubanks

NewsMay 17

Watch: 3 Moments

HighlightsMay 16

U.S. Soccer announces details of 2018 Tournament of Nations

NewsMay 16

Goal of the Week: Christine Nairn

Week 7May 15

Player of the Week: Megan Rapinoe

Week 7May 15

Save of the Week: Ashlyn Harris

Week 7May 15

Week 7 Power Rankings: Big wins for the Courage, Reign and Pride earn this week’s top spots

Power RankingsMay 14

Week 7 Rewind

HighlightsMay 14

Happy Mother’s Day, from Nádia Gomes

FeatureMay 11

Watch: 3 Moments from Week 6

HighlightsMay 09

Dash acquire Allysha Chapman in exchange for 2019 first-round pick

NewsMay 09

Player of the Week: Alyssa Naeher

NWSL AwardsMay 08

Goal of the Week: Diana Matheson

NWSL AwardsMay 08

Save of the Week: Alyssa Naeher

NWSL AwardsMay 08

Allie Long makes her return to Portland

FeatureMay 07

Instant Classic: Thorns vs. Reign

Must WatchMay 07

Vote: Goal of the Week

VoteMay 07

Week 6 Power Rankings: Courage hold on to top spot, Reign jump to No. 2

Power RankingsMay 07

Week 6 Rewind

HighlightsMay 07

Providence Park to host 2018 NWSL Championship

NewsMay 05

Q&A: Michelle Betos, Seattle Reign FC

FeatureMay 04

Sky Blue FC waive Erin Simon

NewsMay 04

U.S. Soccer issues statement on public warning from USADA accepted by Abby Dahlkemper

NewsMay 04

For Midge Purce, playing for Portland is both humbling and exciting

FeatureMay 03

April Team of the Month

NWSL AwardsMay 03

Chicago Red Stars midfielder Sofia Huerta voted April Player of the Month

NWSL AwardsMay 02

Watch: 3 Moments from Week 5

HighlightsMay 02

Alyssa Kleiner signs with Seattle Reign FC

NewsMay 02

Goal of the Week: Tobin Heath

NWSL AwardsMay 01

Player of the Week: McCall Zerboni

NWSL AwardsMay 01

Save of the Week: Aubrey Bledsoe

NWSL AwardsMay 01

Week 5 Power Rankings: Courage remain on top for fourth week straight

Power RankingsApril 30

Week 5 Rewind

HighlightsApril 29

Q&A: Merritt Mathias, North Carolina Courage

FeatureApril 27

Thorns sign defender Kelli Hubly

NewsApril 27

Julie Ertz removed from injury report; Week 5 injury updates

NewsApril 27

Washington Spirit to play at Audi Field on August 25

NewsApril 26

Watch: 3 Moments from Week 4

HighlightsApril 25

Australian forward Kyah Simon joins the Houston Dash

NewsApril 25

Goal of the Week: Merritt Mathias

Week 4April 24

Player of the Week: Sofia Huerta

Week 4April 24

Save of the Week: Aubrey Bledsoe

Week 4April 24

Watch: 3 Moments

Mandy Freeman, Emily Menges, McCall Zerboni

Portland Thorns FC defender Emily Menges in action in Week 8 vs. the Spirit. (Photo credit: Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com)

Three moments from Week 8:

  1. Sky Blue FC Mandy Freeman‘s clearance
  2. Portland Thorns FC defender Emily Menges‘ hustle
  3. North Carolina Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni‘s steal and pass

 

Watch 3 Moments from Week 8 below, and catch all past weeks on the YouTube playlist.

 

Goal of the Week: Carli Lloyd

The Sky Blue FC forward scored her first goal of the season

Lloyd recorded her first assist of the season in Week 7. (Photo credit: Howard C. Smith/isiphotos.com)

Sky Blue FC forward Carli Lloyd‘s stoppage time free kick finish on Saturday, May 19 against the North Carolina Courage was voted Goal of the Week for Week 8.

Watch the Week 8 Goal of the Week below and catch up on all of this year’s Goals of the Week on the YouTube playlist.

 

 

Player of the Week: Crystal Dunn

The Courage forward scored her fourth goal of the season in Week 8

The Courage forward has four goals this season. (Photo credit:

Crystal Dunn has been voted Player of the Week for Week 8 of the 2018 season by the NWSL Media Association.

Dunn earns the Week 8 nod after scoring the opening goal in the Courage’s 2-1 win over Sky Blue FC on Saturday, May 19. With the win, the Courage improved to 7-0-2.

This is the seventh time Dunn has earned NWSL Player of the Week and she is now the all-time leader for most NWSL Player of the Week awards.

Her goal came in the 16th minute off of a cross from forward Jessica McDonald. The play began with a forced turnover in the midfield by midfielder Debinha. Debinha played McDonald through down the right wing and McDonald crossed it into the box where Dunn was crashing. Dunn hit it with her left foot one-time for the go-ahead goal.

This goal was Dunn’s fourth of the year and she is now tied for second-place in the league for scoring. Dunn finished the game with four shots and four key passes. Out of 32 total passes, she had a 81.3% passing success rate and got off three crosses.

 

The NWSL Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis. For more information on the NWSL Media Association, follow them on Twitter.

Save of the Week: Katelyn Rowland

Rowland stopped a Carli Lloyd penalty kick in the 72nd minute

Rowland made four saves in the Courage's 2-1 win over Sky Blue FC in Week 8. (Photo credit: Howard C. Smith/isiphotos.com)

North Carolina Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland‘s back-to-back saves on a Carli Lloyd penalty kick and then a rebound shot in the 72nd minute vs. Sky Blue FC was voted Week 8 NWSL Save of the Week.

Watch her save below and catch up on all of this year’s Saves of the Week on our YouTube playlist.

Courage, Zerboni not satisfied despite unbeaten start

The Courage improve to 7-0-2 this season

North Carolina Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni has three goals this season. (Photo credit: Howard C. Smith/isiphotos.com)

Piscataway, New Jersey — The North Carolina Courage are now unbeaten in nine games (7-0-2) after defeating Sky Blue FC 2-1 on a rainy Saturday night at Yurcak Field.

The Courage are the only NWSL team undefeated on the year and are now tied with Seattle Reign FC in 2014 for the best nine-game start. Four years ago, the Reign started the season 13-0-3, which is the NWSL record.

While Week 8 earned the Courage another three points, the team was hardly satisfied with the result. The end of the match was a foggy-frenzy for the Courage defensively from first giving up a penalty kick in the 71st minute to then allowing a late free kick goal. Sky Blue FC midfielder Carli Lloyd put the home team on the board in the game’s final moments with a free kick blast from 20 yards out. If the Courage would have kept the clean sheet, the team would have earned their sixth shutout of the season.

“I guess we’re exactly where we want to be,” Courage forward Jess McDonald said after the game. “We didn’t set any goals, but we’re in a comfortable spot. The crazy part is it may seem like our season is going perfectly, but it really is not, because at the end of the day we gave up a PK, then we gave up a free kick at the last minute of the game, so that just shows that we have a lot of things to work on.”

From the outside looking in, the Courage look like they are cruising. They sit at the top of the table with 23 points (nine points ahead of the second-place team, Seattle Reign FC), they have 15 goals scored and have depth all over the field. But, the fact that the team felt like they hardly came out with three points on Saturday night shows just how high the standard is in the North Carolina jersey.

“I think we’re actually disappointed with second half performance,” head coach Paul Riley said. “Our first half was really good, we created five to six great chances and we should have wrapped the game up. We nearly let ourselves go in the second half, [we got] loose and we got complacent.”

Someone who was particularly hard on herself was midfielder McCall Zerboni.

Zerboni, who has already earned the nod for NWSL Player of the Week two times this season, is the pulse of the Courage midfield. Even McDonald calls her “a gun,” for her grit, for her tenacity, and her ability to win anything and everything in the midfield. In the win, Zerboni switched the point of attack in the 26th minute of play, which eventually set up the Courage’s second goal of the night.

“It’s an interesting balance because a big part of my game is breaking up plays and getting in there and getting scrappy, but there should also be a shift when we need to control the game; in my body language, in the way I possess my ball and in my leadership,” Zerboni said.

Zerboni said Riley was “a little disappointed” when the two discussed the game during the post-match cool down. Although Zerboni was the playmaker behind the Courage’s second goal, she also conceded a PK in the 71st minute which could have put Sky Blue back in the game if the penalty was made. Lloyd took the penalty kick, but Rowland stopped her shot and then made a second save on Raquel Rodriguez‘s attempt on the rebound.

“He thought we let the game get away from us at a couple moments and you know, that is my fault. I need to provide a little bit more leadership and get a grip of the ball, calm the team down and make sure we don’t miss out on those details.”

But, even in a “disappointing” performance, Zerboni and the Courage are consistently getting the job done and it is not going unnoticed. U.S. women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis was in the stands at Yurcak Field, which is her second-straight Courage game she’s been to this season.

“I think there’s a few players knocking on the door,” Riley said when asked about Ellis being at their games. “I mean when you look around McCall is in tremendous form and she had another great game tonight.”

Zerboni has earned just one senior team call-up in her career and it was in October of 2017. She made her debut as a second half substitute against South Korea on Oct. 22. Zerboni has three goals this season and leads the league in tackles won (29). Ellis poking around the stands is likely her way of getting a final look in before the USWNT reports to training camp at the beginning of June ahead of their set of friendlies against China (June 7 and 12).

“It’s really good to see her coming out and watching the games,” Zerboni said. “She’s a huge part of our success with where we’re going to go with the World Cup and the Olympics, so to know that she’s coming out here and investing in it and keeping an eye on it to make sure that she brings in the best players to go compete internationally.”

The Courage will continue their road stretch in Week 9 when they travel to Orlando City Stadium to face the Orlando Pride in a midweek match-up on Wednesday, May 23. The Pride stripped the Courage’s unbeaten streak at the start of the 2017, so the Courage will have a short time to prepare for another road test.

Week 8 Power Rankings: Courage, Reign hold on to top spots; Thorns rise to No. 3

NWSL Power Rankings presented by Cutter

The Courage, Reign and Thorns sit at the top of the power rankings. (Photo credit: isiphotos.com)

See where each team falls in the eighth edition of the power rankings.

 

1

NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE
7-0-2, 23 pts

Change:
Last week: 1

The North Carolina Courage are now unbeaten in nine games straight and improve to 7-0-2 after defeating Sky Blue FC 2-1 in Week 8 play. The victory meant tying the 2014 Seattle Reign FC for the best nine-game start to a season.  Crystal Dunn scored her fourth goal of the season in the win, while midfielder Sam Mewis also scored on the night. The Courage will continue their road trip when they visit Orlando City Stadium to face the Orlando Pride for a midweek match-up. The Pride stripped the Courage’s unbeaten streak at the start of 2017, so the Courage will look to improve to ten games straight.


2

SEATTLE REIGN FC
4-1-2, 14 pts

Change:
Last week: 2

The Reign earned one point in Week 8 after playing the Red Stars to a 0-0 draw. The Reign sit in second place in the league standings with a 4-1-2 record (14 points). Chicago kept the Reign’s most dangerous scorer, forward Megan Rapinoe, off the scoreboard on the night. Rapinoe has four goals and one assist on the year. The Reign will look to get closer to catching the Courage in the standings when they travel to BBVA Compass Stadium to face the Houston Dash on Wednesday, May 23.


3

PORTLAND THORNS FC
3-3-3, 12 pts

Change: ▲ 1
Last week: 4

The Thorns snapped their five-game winless streak on Saturday night when they topped the Spirit 1-0 on the road. Ellie Carpenter scored the first goal of her NWSL career for the Thorns and became the youngest player to score a goal in NWSL history, at 18 years and 22 days. The Thorns will next play on Friday, May 25, vs. Utah Royals FC and will look to build on their 3-3-3 (12 points) record when they return home to Providence Park.


4

ORLANDO PRIDE
3-2-3, 12 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 3

The Pride had a bye in Week 8, however they still hold on to third-place in the standings with a 3-2-3 (12 points) record. The Pride will be well rested to host the top-ranked North Carolina Courage for a midweek meeting on Wednesday, May 23.


5

UTAH ROYALS FC
2-1-5, 11 pts

Change: ▲ 1
Last week: 6

Utah Royals FC earned their second win of the year when they defeated the Houston Dash 1-0 in Week 8 play. Erika Tymrak scored her first goal of the season in the win and improved Utah to 2-1-5 (11 points) overall. Utah Royals FC are unbeaten in their last five games and will return to action on Friday when they pay a visit to Providence Park to play Portland Thorns FC.


6

CHICAGO RED STARS
2-2-6, 12 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 5

The Red Stars picked up one point in Week 8 after playing Seattle Reign FC to a scoreless draw on the road. The Red Stars are in fifth place in the league standings at 2-2-6 (12 points) however have been winless in six games straight. The Red Stars last win came on April 18 against the Houston Dash where they scored three goals for the three points. The Red Stars will have a breather before they play the Orlando Pride on Saturday, May 26.


7

WASHINGTON SPIRIT
1-5-2, 5 pts

Change: ▲ 1
Last week: 8

The Spirit have dropped their last three games, which included falling to the Thorns 1-0 on Saturday night in Week 8 play. The Spirit are in eighth place in the league standings with a 1-5-2 (5 points) record. Washington will look for their second win of the year when they host a winless Sky Blue FC team on Wednesday night.


8

HOUSTON DASH
1-4-4, 7 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 7

The Dash dropped three points in Week 8 after falling to Utah Royals FC 1-0. With the loss, the Dash had their three-game unbeaten streak snapped. The Dash sit at 1-4-4 (7 points) in league play and will look to bounce back when they host the league’s No. 2-ranked Seattle Reign FC to BBVA Compass Stadium in a midweek match-up.


9

SKY BLUE FC
0-5-1, 1 pt

Change:
Last week: 9

Despite stoppage time free kick goal from Sky Blue FC midfielder Carli Lloyd, the New Jersey side dropped three-points in Week 8 after falling to the North Carolina Courage 2-1 at Yurcak Field. Sky Blue is winless this season at 0-5-1 (1 point) and will take on Week 9 action in search of their first win of the year when they travel to the Spirit on Wednesday.


Week 8 Rewind

Highlights from a four-game Saturday in the NWSL

Ellie Carpenter scored the first goal of her NWSL career in Portland's 1-0 win over Washington. (Photo credit: Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com)

The Courage remain unbeaten. Ellie Carpenter becomes the youngest goal scorer in NWSL history. Plus, much more. A quick look back at Week 8 in the NWSL.

 

May 19: Utah Royals FC 1 | Houston Dash 0

Erika Tymrak scored her first goal of the season as Utah Royals FC earned win No. 2, 1-0 over the Houston Dash at Rio Tinto Stadium to kick off Week 8 in the NWSL. Recap


May 19: Washington Spirit 0 | Portland Thorns FC 1

At 18 years and 22 days, Ellie Carpenter became the youngest player in NWSL history to score a goal. It’s the first shutout of the year for the Thorns. Recap

 

 


May 19: Sky Blue FC 1 | North Carolina Courage 2

The Courage improved to 7-0-2 with a 2-1 win over Sky Blue FC, tying the 2014 Seattle Reign FC for the best nine-game start to a season. Crystal Dunn and Sam Mewis scored in the win. Carli Lloyd scored her first goal since joining Sky Blue FC. Recap

 


May 19: Seattle Reign FC 0 | Chicago Red Stars 0

Seattle Reign FC and the Chicago Red Stars played to a 0-0 draw thanks to key saves from goalkeepers Lydia Williams and Alyssa NaeherRecap

 

 

 

 

Q&A: Nikki Stanton, Chicago Red Stars

The offseason blockbuster three-team trade brought Stanton to Chicago

Chicago Red Stars midfielder Nikki Stanton has played in all nine games this season. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com)

Chicago Red Stars midfielder Nikki Stanton has only been in Chicago for a few months, but has already laced up in every game, scoped out where to find the best coffee in the city, and has adopted a dog.

Stanton was acquired by Chicago in a offseason three-team trade with Houston and Sky Blue. Stanton and forward Sam Kerr were traded from Sky Blue FC to Chicago. Stanton played form 2015-2017 with Sky Blue and spent all three NWSL offseasons with Perth Glory in Australia’s W-League. The North Bend, Washington-native’s good taste in coffee came from her three seasons in Australia and her love for dogs came from when she adopted a dog named Brooklyn while in New Jersey last year.

Soccer, coffee, dogs. What more could one need?

Ahead of the Red Stars trip to Seattle to play Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, May 19, NWSL Media got the chance to catch-up with Stanton before training.

Question: How has it been adjusting to life in Chicago?

Nikki Stanton: I have really enjoyed myself! I have never really lived in the city, so it has been a cool experience to be able to walk to any restaurant or coffee shop. It has been good. The girls have been really welcoming and I have learned so much since I’ve been here. It’s been really great and the facilities are awesome. I’m really happy.

Q: I know in one interview you said one thing you were most excited for in Chicago was seeing the river dyed green on St. Patricks Day! Did you get to see it?

Stanton: No! I didn’t and it is such a bummer. But, I think we were in Portland and I stayed an extra day because my family was there, so I missed the Green River! So I guess I just have to wait until next year, but I saw photos of it and it looked really cool, so maybe one day.

Q: Any other places or activities in Chicago you are loving?

Stanton: Honestly, the amount of places that there are to eat is so overwhelming and amazing. Literally whatever you’re in the mood for, you Google it and there is like 100 places within fives miles that are just that and it is just so awesome. Coming from kind of a suburbia area in New Jersey with not that many options, it has just been great. We already have a couple favorites that we go to a lot, but just the city lifestyle is different than anything I’m used to, so it has just been fun just to get to experience that.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Piper and your involvement with the Anti-Cruelty Society?

Last year in Jersey I reached out to the Monmouth County SPCA, because it is so nice to have a dog and I got linked up with them and we fostered this dog Brooklyn for seven months and I fell madly in love with this dog. It was the hardest goodbye, but she found a forever home and that kind of sparked that having a dog makes everything so much better. So here I looked up some shelters and found Anti-Cruelty. I went in looked at the dogs and it worked out because Piper was really struggling in the shelter and needed to get out ASAP, so I contacted them on Wednesday and they gave me her on Thursday! She has been awesome. We are just fostering her, trying to get her adopted, so hopefully she does soon. She’s a year and a half tiny pit bull. But it is really great because, one hand we get to help out the animals, but it also gives us something when we come home from training, even when we have a bad day or we lose a game, we come back and we have this animal that is happy to see us. So it is really something special and I’m really happy that we’re able to help out wherever we go with that, because it is kind of unrealistic for us to have our own dog, but when we have a foster dog it is more do-able. Right now, Sam Kerr and I are the ones that are fostering Piper, but some others are interested and may foster a cat!

I missed the silly face memo 😝 #piper

A post shared by Nikki Stanton (@nikkiguti7) on

Q: How has it been playing with Vanessa DiBernardo and Alyssa Mautz again?

Stanton: It is so good. You make all these friendships playing soccer and sometimes you never get the opportunity to be on a team again and kind of  keep that friendship strong, so to be with them again, with [Alyssa] Mautz and [Vanessa DiBernardo] Nessy, and to see them, well they are both so great and I lived with both of them in Perth and now I live across the hallway from Mautz! It has just been awesome and all the amazing people you meet, but to be around them has also made the transition into Chicago much easier because I had these two really good friendships already made so that was easier than not knowing anyone coming in.

Q: What is something you miss the most about playing in Australia? Any habits or ways of living that you have brought over with you here to the states? 

Stanton: Oh my gosh, probably the warm weather, it is so cold here. We played one game against Houston and it was probably 32 degrees and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I really do miss the warm weather, the beaches, the breakfast and the coffee. The coffee there is probably the best in the world. Sam and I already have a few locals here that are cutting it close to Australian coffee.

Q: So your coffee standards are higher now I take it?

Stanton: I’ve definitely become a coffee snob. One-hundred percent. Actually one of our train-ons the other day introduced me to her boyfriend and goes “This is Nikki. She’s from Australia!” And I was like, “Wait, you know I’m not actually from Australia, right? We’ve been on the same team for two months honey!” And she goes, “Wait, where are you born?” America!

Q: Now to soccer! How do you think you’ve been playing this season?

Stanton: I think when I found out I was traded to Chicago I was really excited for a new experience. Obviously [I thought that] they have a stacked midfield, so coming into that, some of my family and friends were like, “You will get a chance, the chance will come.” And I think it has come earlier than I thought and I have been getting some playing time and been able to contribute to the team. So I like to think I’ve been able to take advantage of that. Coming into Chicago [head coach Rory Dames] kind of has a way that he wants to play and everyone is buying into it and I think that I am just trying to learn how he wants to play — like keeping the ball, facing and turning forward, switching the point of attack. Like I said, I have already learned so much from Rory and the assistant coaches and I think my game has already seen improvements in these last two months.

Q: What has been a challenge you’ve faced since joining the Red Stars?

Stanton: I think coming into a new team is always hard. Especially a team that has been together for so long that hasn’t had a lot of changes because they already have their group of friends, I was extremely nervous coming in. Again it was nice that I had Vanessa and Mautz and I used to train with Dani [Danielle] Colaprico when she would train with Sky Blue so that was good, but the first couple of weeks I was kind of like, “Wait, what do I do?” But overall it has been really good.

Q: Traveling to take on Seattle Reign FC this weekend – what has been the focus of training to prepare for them?

Stanton: I mean, going into any team this season you have to be super prepared. I think we’re going to go out and focus on our game and how we are trying to play and I think we are really close to what we are trying to accomplish, so we are just going to keep working towards that and hopefully it all comes together.

Q: What has been one of your favorite memories with your team so far?

Stanton: I think just hanging out with everyone. It’s a different group. I’ve been with the same group for the last five years, so any time we’re just hanging out — maybe playing Monopoly in the lobby of the preseason trip in Portland.

Q: Now how competitive does an NWSL team get playing Monopoly?! 

Stanton: I’m like a really, really bad loser. So that doesn’t always go over well, so if I’m not winning, I’m not having fun. But really, I have been enjoying meeting all these new people because they all have their stories and how they got here and their soccer stories.

Washington Spirit sign forward Mallory Eubanks

Eubanks played for the Spirit earlier this season as a National Team Replacement Player

Eubanks was selected in the second round of the 2018 NWSL College Draft. (Photo credit: Jose L. Argueta/isiphotos.com)

The Washington Spirit have signed forward Mallory Eubanks, the club announced on Thursday. The Spirit has placed forward Cali Farquharson on the 45-day disabled list with a left tibial stress injury.

Eubanks joins the Spirit after being drafted in the second round of the 2018 NWSL College Draft out of Mississippi State University. She played in three games for the Spirit earlier this year as a National Team Replacement Player. Her first NWSL start was on April 14 where she recorded 65 minutes against the North Carolina Courage.

Eubanks will be available for the Spirit’s game on Saturday when they host Portland Thorns FC at Maryland SoccerPlex at 7 p.m. ET (go90).

Watch: 3 Moments

Allysha Chapman, Debinha, Taylor Comeau

North Carolina Courage midfielder Debinha showed off her ball-handling skills in Week 7 vs. the Washington Spirit. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

Three moments from Week 7:

  1. Houston Dash defender Allysha Chapman‘s header clearance
  2. North Carolina Courage midfielder Debinha‘s skills
  3. Chicago Red Stars defender Taylor Comeau‘s give-and-go

 

Watch 3 Moments from Week 7 below, and catch all past weeks on the YouTube playlist.

U.S. Soccer announces details of 2018 Tournament of Nations

The United States, Australia, Brazil and Japan will compete once again in the tournament

Courage midfielder Debinha in action for Brazil and Courage forward Crystal Dunn in action for the United States at the 2017 Tournament of Nations. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

On Wednesday, U.S. Soccer announced the dates and times for this summer’s Tournament of Nations, which features the United States, Australia, Brazil and Japan. The teams will compete in three doubleheaders in three cities over eight days.

It’s the second year of the tournament and once again there should be plenty of NWSL talent in action in the games. Last year, 34 NWSL players competed across the four teams. Australia won the 2017 Tournament of Nations with a 3-0-0 record.

Australia, Brazil and Japan have all qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The United States will take part in Concacaf’s qualifying tournament in October. All four teams are currently ranked in the top eleven teams in the world: United States (No. 1), Australia (No. 6), Brazil (No. 8) and Japan (No. 11).

The Tournament of Nations will only take place in years that don’t have a Women’s World Cup or Olympic tournament — so this will be the last tournament until 2021.

Full Tournament of Nations schedule and broadcast info, if available:

Tickets for all the doubleheaders go on sale on Friday, June 1, at ussoccer.com. More ticket info is available on ussoccer.com

Thursday, July 26

Children’s Mercy Park

Kansas City, Kansas

 

Brazil vs. Australia | 4:15 p.m. ET

USA vs. Japan | 7 p.m. ET | FS1


Sunday, July 29

Pratt & Whitney Stadium

East Hartford, Connecticut

 

Japan vs. Brazil | 4:15 p.m. ET

USA vs. Australia | 7 p.m. ET | FS1


Thursday, August 2

Toyota Park

Bridgeview, Illinois

 

Australia vs. Japan | 5:45 p.m. ET

USA vs. Brazil | 8:30 p.m. ET | FS1


Highlights from the NWSL at the 2017 Tournament of Nations:

 

Goal of the Week: Christine Nairn

The Orlando Pride midfielder has one goal and two assists this season

Nairn scored her first goal of the season in Week 7. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Orlando Pride midfielder Christine Nairn‘s left-footed strike from a distance in the Pride’s 2-1 win over Portland Thorns FC in Saturday’s action has earned her Goal of the Week for Week 7.

Watch the Week 7 Goal of the Week below and catch up on all of this year’s Goals of the Week on the YouTube playlist.

Player of the Week: Megan Rapinoe

The Seattle Reign forward scored a brace in Week 7

Megan Rapinoe is second in the league for scoring with 4 goals. (Photo credit: Jane Gershovich/isiphotos.com)

Megan Rapinoe has been voted Player of the Week for Week 7 of the 2018 season by the NWSL Media Association. This is the second time this year the Seattle Reign FC forward has earned the honor. She was previously named Player of the Week for the first week of the NWSL season.

Rapinoe picks up the Week 7 nod following a two-goal performance in the Reign’s 4-2 victory over Sky Blue FC on Saturday, May 12. This is the sixth time in her career she has been named Player of the Week.

Rapinoe’s first goal on Saturday came in the 38th minute following a poor Sky Blue clearance. Rapinoe settled the ball, took a couple touches, and then chipped it in for a technical finish in the far right corner. Her second goal of the night came in the second half. Reign midfielder Nahomi Kawasumi played Rapinoe a through ball down the left flank and Rapinoe cut the ball inside to finish it far post for the 3-0 lead in the 60th minute. Rapinoe finished the match with a team-high seven shots  and three on goal. This was Rapinoe’s first game back after missing the Reign’s last three matches with a hamstring injury.

She currently sits in second-place in the league with goals (4) and has 18 shots with 10 on goal this season.

 

 

The NWSL Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis. For more information on the NWSL Media Association, follow them on Twitter.

Save of the Week: Ashlyn Harris

Harris stopped a Heath shot in the 52nd minute

Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris made five saves vs. Portland Thorns FC in Week 7. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris‘ big stop in the 52nd minute vs. Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath was voted the Week 7 NWSL Save of the Week. It’s her second win of the season.

Watch her save below and catch up on all of this year’s Saves of the Week on our YouTube playlist.

 

Week 7 Power Rankings: Big wins for the Courage, Reign and Pride earn this week’s top spots

NWSL Power Rankings presented by Cutter

Seattle Reign FC's Allie Long scored her second goal of the season. (Photo credit: Jane Gershovich/isiphotos.com)

See where each team falls in the seventh edition of the power rankings.

 

1

NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE
6-0-2, 20 pts

Change:
Last week: 1

Make it eight straight. The North Carolina Courage extended their unbeaten streak over the weekend with a 1-0 victory over the Washington Spirit. Abby Erceg scored for the Courage and Katelyn Rowland picked up the shutout in net. Between Rowland and goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo, the two have earned five shutouts this season. The Courage will next travel to New Jersey to face Sky Blue FC on Saturday, May 19.


2

SEATTLE REIGN FC
4-1-1, 13 pts

Change:
Last week: 2

From the 3-2 thriller at Providence Park last week, to the 4-1 victory over Sky Blue FC to close out Week 7 — the Reign are on a roll. Megan Rapinoe returned to the pitch for the first time in three weeks and scored a brace on the night. Jodie Taylor and Allie Long also added a goal each to secure three points at home. The Reign return home in Week 8 to host the Chicago Red Stars. With a healthy Rapinoe and the option of using either Michelle Betos or Lydia Williams in net, the Reign have set themselves up for a good situation in the following week.


3

ORLANDO PRIDE
3-2-3, 12 pts

Change: ▲ 2
Last week: 5

The Pride picked up four points in Week 7 with a draw against Utah Royals FC in a midweek meeting and a dominant 2-1 win against Portland Thorns FC at Providence Park. Alex Morgan and Christine Nairn scored to earn the Pride their first win over the Thorns. The Pride moved up two spots this week and will get to rest in Week 8 before a big test against the top-ranked North Carolina Courage on Wednesday, May 23.


4

PORTLAND THORNS FC
2-3-3, 9 pts

Change:
Last week: 4

Christine Sinclair scored her league-leading fifth goal of the season in Week 7, but the Thorns only came away with one point on the week. The Thorns drew 1-1 with the Houston Dash during the week and then dropped three points at home against the Orlando Pride on Saturday. The result on Saturday was the Pride’s fifth-straight game without a win. The Thorns will look to bounce back when they hit the road to play the Washington Spirit on Saturday.


5

CHICAGO RED STARS
2-2-5, 11 pts

Change: ▼ 2
Last week: 3

The Red Stars earned one point in Week 7 after a 2-2 draw against the Houston Dash. Sam Kerr scored for the second-straight game and Sofia Huerta also had a goal in the tie. This is Chicago’s fourth draw in their last five games — their last win was against the Dash on April 18. The Red Stars will look to get back on the winning train when they travel to Seattle to face the Reign on Saturday.


6

UTAH ROYALS FC
1-1-5, 8 pts

Change:
Last week: 6

Utah Royals FC earned their fifth draw of the season on Wednesday with a 0-0 result against the Orlando Pride. Utah’s best chances came from forward Katie Stengel as the game drew late, but the game was an even battle. Utah got to breathe this weekend and will next host the Dash on Saturday.


7

HOUSTON DASH
1-3-4, 7 pts

Change: ▲ 1
Last week: 8

The Dash earned two points in Week 7 and are now unbeaten in their last three games. The Dash played Portland to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday and then scored twice to split points against the Chicago Red Stars 2-2. Kyah Simon scored for the Dash on Wednesday and Rachel Daly and Kristie Mewis scored on Saturday. The Dash will head to Rio Tinto Stadium to face Utah Royals FC on Saturday.


8

WASHINGTON SPIRIT
1-4-2, 5 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 7

The Washington Spirit drop down another spot this week after falling to the Courage 1-0 in Week 7. This is the second-straight game the Spirit have lost on the road and are still looking for their second win of the season. Aubrey Bledsoe kept her team in it, earning five saves on the night. Bledsoe still holds a league-leading 37 saves on the season. The Spirit return home in Week 8 to welcome the Portland Thorns to the Maryland SoccerPlex.


9

SKY BLUE FC
0-4-1, 1 pt

Change:
Last week: 9

Sky Blue FC are still looking for their first win of the year. Savannah McCaskill  scored her second goal of the season to get her team on the board, but Seattle Reign FC saw the better end of the match earning the 4-1 win. Sky Blue will gear up for a big meeting with the North Carolina Courage when they host the league-leading team at Yurcak Field on Saturday.

Week 7 Rewind

Big wins for North Carolina, Seattle and Orlando

Megan Rapinoe scored twice on Saturday night for Seattle Reign FC. (Photo credit: Jane Gershovich/isiphotos.com)

A quick look back at all the highlights from Week 7 in the NWSL:

 

May 9: Houston Dash 1 | Portland Thorns FC 1

In Week 7’s first game, Portland Thorns FC forward Ana-Maria Crnogorčević scored her first NWSL goal and Kyah Simon scored her first goal as a member of the Houston Dash to tie it 1-1. Recap


May 9: Utah Royals FC 0 | Orlando Pride 0

Utah Royals FC and the Orlando Pride played to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Recap


May 12: Portland Thorns FC 1 | Orlando Pride 2

The Orlando Pride topped Portland Thorns FC 2-1 at Providence Park, Orlando’s first win over Portland in franchise history. Alex Morgan and Christine Nairn scored for the Pride in the win. Christine Sinclair scored her league-leading fifth goal in the loss. Recap


May 12: North Carolina Courage 1 | Washington Spirit 0

The North Carolina Courage extended their unbeaten streak to eight games (6-0-2) to start the season. Abby Erceg scored the game’s only goal. It’s the fifth shutout of the season for the Courage. Recap


May 12: Chicago Red Stars 2 | Houston Dash 2

The Dash took the lead twice, but the Red Stars equalized both times and the two teams played to a 2-2 draw at Toyota Park. Rachel Daly and Kristie Mewis scored for Houston. Sam Kerr and Sofia Huerta scored for Chicago. Recap


May 12: Seattle Reign FC 4 | Sky Blue FC 1

Megan Rapinoe scored twice and the Reign added goals from Jodie Taylor and Allie Long in a 4-1 win over Sky Blue FC to close out Week 7. Savannah McCaskill scored Sky Blue’s only goal. Recap

Happy Mother’s Day, from Nádia Gomes

From kitchen soccer in Portugal to professional soccer in the U.S.

Nadia Gomes scored her first international goal for Portugal at the Algarve Cup. (Photo credit: Jose L. Argueta/ isiphotos.com)

Orlando Pride 2018 NWSL College Draft pick Nádia Gomes soccer career began in her home in Portugal as a young girl. Gomes would kick the ball around in the house with her sister and her mother — kitchen juggling, dribbling through rooms. It was the perfect practice pitch.

“There was a lamp or lightbulb broken every day,” Gomes told NWSL Media.

The BYU alum was selected in the third round by the Pride after scoring 23 goals and chipping in 23 assists in her college career. Ahead of the season, Gomes was named to the 2018 Algarve Cup roster for Portugal and recorded her first goal on March 7 in a 2-1 win over Australia.

“One of my aunt’s would tell me, ‘Your mom loves soccer since she was little. It was her dream to play always, and you’re living her dream.'” Gomes’ mother moved them to Utah when she was 11-years-old.

Whether it was watching soccer games in the house, which Gomes describes as always a “crazy time” or breaking lamps left and right, Gomes credits her mother’s influence for living out her dream of playing professionally now. “She always told me to never give up and keep pursuing my dreams,” Gomes said.

“She always encouraged me and supported me every time I told her I wanted to play soccer. I know that if there was a soccer team in my city when I was growing she would have put me on it. She’s always been a hard worker.”

Gomes last saw her mother when she visited her in her new city of Orlando. Gomes is still waiting to make her professional debut, but knows that when she does get the chance to step on the field her mother will definitely be her biggest fan, but also toughest critic.

“She’s funny,” Gomes laughs. “If I don’t do good in a game, she’ll flat out tell me. She’s like, ‘You need to do this, this and this,’ and she’ll flat out tell me that I didn’t do a good job.” The 21-year-old said her mother’s biggest critique in her game is that she stands around too much.

“She’s always telling me, ‘Nadia you need to go, go!'” Perhaps this similar tone stems from the earlier days racing around their home in Portugal. Gomes, in the spirit of Mother’s Day and remembering how much fun she had as a young girl playing with her mom, has a special message.

“Shoutout to my amazing mom,” Gomes said. “She has always been an amazing role model and I love her so much. Happy Mother’s Day!”

Watch: 3 Moments from Week 6

Watch now

Chicago Red Stars defender Sam Johnson in action vs. North Carolina in Week 6. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

Three moments from Week 6:

  1. Chicago Red Stars defender Sam Johnson‘s clutch plays vs. North Carolina
  2. Portland Thorns FC defender Kelli Hubly‘s header
  3. Utah Royals FC midfielder Diana Matheson‘s slide

Watch 3 Moments from Week 6 below, and catch all past weeks on the YouTube playlist.

Dash acquire Allysha Chapman in exchange for 2019 first-round pick

Chapman played for the Dash in 2015 and 2016

Allysha Chapman appeared in one game for the North Carolina Courage in 2018. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

The Houston Dash have acquired defender Allysha Chapman and two second-round 2019 NWSL College Draft picks from the North Carolina Courage in exchange for their 2019 natural first-round pick, the teams announced Wednesday.

The second-round picks that the Courage sent to the Dash are North Carolina’s natural second-round pick and the pick they acquired from Seattle Reign FC.

Chapman will be available for the Dash on Wednesday night vs. Portland Thorns FC, the Dash said. Chapman was selected by the Courage with the tenth pick in the January dispersal draft after the Boston Breakers ceased operations. Chapman is a member of the Canadian women’s national team and an allocated player for the 2018 season.

The defender played for the Dash in 2015 and 2016, before playing for the Breakers in 2017. She appeared in one game for the Courage this season.

 

Player of the Week: Alyssa Naeher

The Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper made 16 saves in Week 6

Alyssa Naeher has 27 saves this season for the Chicago Red Stars.

Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher has been named Week 6’s Player of the Week by the NWSL Media Association. Naeher earns the honor following a 12-save performance vs. the North Carolina Courage on Sunday, May 6. The Courage tested Naeher all day taking 42 shots and putting 15 on target.

Naeher’s performance also earned her Week 6’s Save of the Week. This is the fourth time she has been honored as NWSL Player of the Week with her past nods being in Week 5 (2016), Week 17 (2015), and Week 18 (2014.)

The Red Stars kept the lead most of the game with forward Sam Kerr scoring her first goal of the season in the 37th minute to put them up 0-1. Naeher came up big for her team over and over again making notable stops on Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni at the 17th minute and then on two different Crystal Dunn chances in the 49th and 66th minute, respectively.

Naeher finished the game with a team-high 74 touches and made three clearances, according to Opta.

The Red Stars went 0-1-1 in Week 6, with Naeher earning four saves in the Red Stars 2-0 loss to the Orlando Pride on Wednesday, May 2. Naeher collected 16 saves in the Red Stars’ two games in Week 6.

Naeher has 27 saves so far this season for the league’s second-best. In eight games played, she has recorded two shutouts, on April 14 against Utah Royals FC and on April 18 against the Houston Dash. Chicago is ranked third in the league (2-2-4) with 10 total points. Naeher and the Red Stars will next host the Houston Dash on Saturday, May 12.

The NWSL Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis. For more information on the NWSL Media Association, follow them on Twitter.

Goal of the Week: Diana Matheson

Matheson scored her first goal of the season

Matheson and Utah Royals FC earned their first franchise win on the night.

Utah Royals FC midfielder Diana Matheson’s slide tackle to a chip finish for the 2-0 victory over the Washington Spirit in Saturday’s action has earned her Goal of the Week for Week 6.

Watch the Week 6 Goal of the Week below and catch up on all of this year’s Goals of the Week on the YouTube playlist.

Save of the Week: Alyssa Naeher

Naeher earns Save of the Week for first time this season

Alyssa Naeher made 12 saves against the North Carolina Courage in Week 6.

Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher’s saves against the North Carolina Courage in Week 6 action has earned her Save of the Week. Naeher recorded 12 saves on the day with her biggest stops coming in the 17th, 49th, 56th and 66th minutes, respectively.

Watch her big saves below and catch up on all of this year’s Saves of the Week on our YouTube playlist.

Allie Long makes her return to Portland

The former Thorn got a first taste of the Cascadia rivalry from Seattle's side

Allie Long, the second all-time leading scorer in Portland Thorns FC history, played her a first game as a visitor at Providence Park, for Seattle Reign FC on May 5. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Portland, Oregon — They say you can’t go home again.

But this Saturday, that’s exactly what Allie Long, the former Portland Thorns FC mainstay, did when she returned to Providence Park for the first time since joining Seattle Reign FC.

Long, the Thorns’ second all-time leading scorer, played over 100 games with Portland, starting in the NWSL’s inaugural 2013 season. She scored the game-winner in a 2013 semifinal that sent the team on to face Western New York in the championship, which they won — an accomplishment she’d reprise four years later when the Thorns won a second championship against the North Carolina Courage. It was Long’s time in Portland that allowed her to break onto the U.S. women’s national team: after being left off the World Cup roster in 2015, Long spent the NWSL season making an emphatic case for herself as an international-quality player, tallying 10 goals and four assists for the Thorns.

After all that, she shocked observers in making a move to Portland’s longtime rival, the Seattle Reign, as part of a major three-way trade that brought the rights to Caitlin Foord — previously held by Sky Blue FC — to the Thorns. “When I walked off the field [in Portland] for the last time,” she said before Saturday’s game, “I could hold my head up high and be really proud and happy in the way that I left. I poured everything that I physically could into the organization and the club and I left it there.”

The Thorns-Reign rivalry — which has its roots in a soccer rivalry between the two cities that predates the NWSL — is hotly contested. The all-time series is close; going into Saturday’s game, the Thorns had the slight edge, with seven wins, six losses and three draws. As much as wins and losses, though, this rivalry is about bragging rights, smack-talk and drama.

Any drama has heroes and villains; for the Thorns faithful, the part of antagonist has often been played by Jess Fishlock, with her aggressive tackling and outsize presence in the central midfield. Seattle fans, for five years, fixed their animosity on Long.

“Coming [to Seattle],” she said, “I was definitely unsure how people would take it. When I went to the season ticket holder event, I asked them if we could start over! They all laughed, but [the rivalry] is definitely real.”

On the field, Long has started over, making a strong start in Seattle in the central midfield role she plays alongside Japanese international Rumi Utsugi. “The team has been awesome, and Vlatko [Andonovski] and the coaching staff,” she said. “It makes it really easy when the level is so high and everyone has such a good soccer IQ. It’s been really fun.” Long notched her first goal for the Reign last weekend in Orlando, getting loose in the box on a free kick to send a well-placed half-volley inside the far post.

Heading into the weekend, Long said she was excited, both for the game itself and to reunite with old friends. “The five years I was there, I really tried hard to develop relationships with the fans,” she said. “There are kids that came when they were one or two and their parents had to hold them, and now they’re six or seven. … It’s really cool to see that. I’m so excited to be back and see familiar faces, and it’s going to be a great game.”

The match, a wild back-and-forth affair, more than lived up to the rivalry hype. Seattle opened the scoring late in the first half with a point-blank header by Beverly Yanez off a Nahomi Kawasumi corner kick. Their one-goal lead held until the 60th minute, when a corner kick by Tobin Heath ricocheted off Long and fell to Portland defender Emily Sonnett, who managed to flick the ball backwards past keeper Michelle Betos.

From there, the action didn’t let up for a second, with more goals coming courtesy of Jodie Taylor, Lindsey Horan and Utsugi. Providence Park erupted in boos when Fishlock subbed off late in the second half, which the Reign midfielder seemed to relish, giving the stadium a round of applause as she left the field. When the dust settled, the score was 3-2 in Seattle’s favor, marking their third road victory in rivalry history, and leveling the all-time head-to-head.

A hard-fought win on the road against a rival usually brings elation, but for Long, Saturday was more complicated. “When I got here, I saw people had my jersey, and they were hanging up my scarf,” she said after the game. “I just felt so thankful that I had the time that I did here. … It was overwhelming how much love I felt, and I was so grateful to them.”

Although fans greeted her with a loud cheer as Seattle’s lineup was announced, once the game kicked off, the crowd didn’t forget whose side she was on. With any homecoming, the home you return to isn’t quite the one you left behind. In Portland, the raucous atmosphere hadn’t changed, but Long, wearing the enemy’s black kit, was on the other side — a perspective she’s embracing.

“I love it,” she said. “This is the environment that brings out the best in players. … Whether I’m on the Thorns or the Reign, this environment is the best place to play, and you want that as a player. Even though they’re cheering for them, you still feel it.”

Instant Classic: Thorns vs. Reign

Watch the full game on NWSLsoccer.com

Seattle Reign FC topped Portland Thorns FC 3-2 in Week 6. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Portland Thorns FC and Seattle Reign FC met on Saturday afternoon in the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime, and what transpired was one of the best games we’ve seen in the NWSL.

Relive all the drama on the NWSL app or right here on the NWSL site: Watch the full game

 

 

Highlights:

 

Vote: Goal of the Week

Visit @NWSL on Twitter to vote

Visit @NWSL on Twitter for Week 6’s best goal.

The nominees:

  • Orlando Pride forward Chioma Ubogagu
  • Seattle Reign midfielder Rumi Utsugi
  • Utah Royals FC midfielder Diana Matheson
  • Chicago Red Stars forward Sam Kerr

Week 6 Power Rankings: Courage hold on to top spot, Reign jump to No. 2

NWSL Power Rankings presented by Cutter

The North Carolina Courage are 5-0-2. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

See where each team falls in the sixth edition of the power rankings.

 

 

1

NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE
5-0-2, 17 pts

Change:
Last week: 1

The Courage enter another week unbeaten in league play and hold on to the top spot in the rankings after earning a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday. The Red Stars were on the cusp of handing the Courage their first loss of the season, but then midfielder McCall Zerboni came knocking. Zerboni, who picked up two NWSL Player of the Week honors in April, scored in the 82nd minute to secure a point at home for the Courage. The Courage roll into Week 7 with a league-best 12 goals and will host the Washington Spirit on Saturday, May 12. The Courage are 5-0-2 through the first seven games of the season, only the fourth team to go unbeaten through that many games to start the season, joining the 2014 Reign, 2015 Red Stars and 2016 Thorns.


2

SEATTLE REIGN FC
3-1-1, 10 pts

Change: ▲ 2
Last week: 4

The Reign topped Portland Thorns FC in a 3-2 thriller at Providence Park on Saturday. Rumi Utsugi scored the game-winner in the 75th minute to hand the Reign the first victory of the 2018 Cascadia rivalry. Goalkeeper Michelle Betos came up big for her side earning eight saves on the day. The Reign host Sky Blue FC in Week 7 and will look to extend their perfect record this year at home.


3

CHICAGO RED STARS
2-2-4, 10 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 2

The Red Stars went 0-1-1 in Week 6 — falling to the Orlando pride 0-2 on Wednesday and then splitting points for a 1-1 draw against the North Carolina Courage on Sunday. The Red Stars couldn’t find the back of the net in their midweek match, but over the weekend it was 2017 Golden Boot winner Sam Kerr who gave the Red Stars the go-ahead goal. The Red Stars were particularly impressive in net with Alyssa Naeher stepping up big-time for her side earning 12 saves on the day to secure the point on the road. The Red Stars return home for Week 7 where they will host the Houston Dash at Toyota Park.


4

PORTLAND THORNS FC
2-2-2, 8 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 3

Midfielder Lindsey Horan and defender Emily Sonnett both scored for Portland, but the Reign earned the three points at Providence Park. The Thorns were a consistent threat offensively all game especially in the second half when Tobin Heath and Andressinha subbed in. The Thorns will look to bounce back on Wednesday when they travel to play the Houston Dash for a midweek clash.


5

ORLANDO PRIDE
2-2-2, 8 pts

Change:
Last week: 5

The Orlando Pride defeated the Red Stars in a Wednesday meeting led by a goal from Chioma Ubogagu and Rachel Hill. The Pride earned their first-ever win over Chicago and Ashlyn Harris picked up the shutout in net. The Pride will travel to Rio Tinto on Wednesday to face Utah Royals FC.


6

UTAH ROYALS FC
1-1-4, 7 pts

Change: ▲ 1
Last week: 7

Utah Royals FC earned their first franchise win on Saturday with a 2-0 result over the Washington Spirit. Kelley O’Hara and Diana Matheson scored their first goals of the year in the historic win. Utah Royals FC get to stay put on Wednesday when they host the Orlando Pride.


7

WASHINGTON SPIRIT
1-3-2, 5 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 6

The Spirit were shutout for the first time all season when Utah Royals FC picked up a 2-0 result on Saturday. The Spirit didn’t get a shot off on goal until the 91st minute, yet Francisca Ordega’s shot was stopped by Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith to keep the visitors from getting one. If anyone was going to score for the Spirit over the weekend it would of been Ordega — entering Week 6 she had scored in three straight games. The Spirit will continue their road trip this week when they travel to Cary to face the Courage on Saturday night.


8

HOUSTON DASH
1-3-2, 5 pts

Change: ▲ 1
Last week: 9

The Houston Dash earned their first win of the season beating Sky Blue FC 3-2 with goals from Nichelle Prince, Rachel Daly and Veronica Latsko. Latsko scored the game-winner for the Dash in the 79th minute. The Dash have played around with the positions of Daly and Kristie Mewis, and on Saturday night they were moved up to the attack after they played as outside backs for the first five games of the season. The Dash will look to earn their second win of the season when they host the Thorns on Wednesday night.


9

SKY BLUE FC
0-3-1, 1 pt

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 8

Sky Blue FC is the only team without a win this season. Even with a brace from Sky Blue forward Katie Johnson on the day, the New Jersey team fell 3-2 to the Houston Dash. Even with the loss at home, Sky Blue saw the better end of the possession on the day to the Dash at 58.6%. Sky Blue will look for their first win of the season when they hit the road to play Seattle Reign FC on Saturday.

Week 6 Rewind

Portland and Seattle played an instant classic

Seattle Reign FC beat Portland Thorns FC 3-2 on May 5 in Providence Park. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Big saves, thrilling matches and a rivalry renewed. A look back at Week 6:

 

May 2: Chicago Red Stars 0 | Orlando Pride 2

Chioma Ubogagu and Rachel Hill scored for Orlando as the Pride topped the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 at Toyota Park. Recap


May 5: Portland Thorns FC 2 | Seattle Reign FC 3

Seattle Reign FC outlasted Portland Thorns FC in a 3-2 thriller at Providence Park. In the first Cascadia clash of the season, Rumi Utsugi scored the game-winner in the 75th minute and Michelle Betos made several strong saves late to preserve the win. Beverly Yanez and Jodie Taylor also scored for Seattle. Lindsey Horan and Emily Sonnett scored for Portland. Recap

 


May 5: Sky Blue FC 2 | Houston Dash 3

The Houston Dash earned their first win of the season, 3-2 over Sky Blue FC. Veronica Latsko scored the game-winner in the 79th minute. Rachel Daly and Nichelle Prince also scored for Houston. Katie Johnson tallied a brace in the loss. Recap

 


May 5: Utah Royals FC 2 | Washington Spirit 0

Kelley O’Hara and Diana Matheson scored their first goals of the season as Utah Royals FC won their first game in franchise history, 2-0 over the Washington Spirit. Recap

 


 

May 6: North Carolina Courage 1 | Chicago Red Stars 1

Alyssa Naeher made 12 saves as the Chicago Red Stars earned a point on the road in North Carolina, in a 1-1 draw with the Courage. Sam Kerr put the Red Stars ahead in the 37th minute, but McCall Zerboni tied the game in the 82nd. Recap

 

 

 

Providence Park to host 2018 NWSL Championship

Tickets go on sale June 7

For more information, visit NWSLchampionship.com (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

On Saturday, the National Women’s Soccer League issued the following press release:

 

CHICAGO (May 5, 2018) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and Portland Thorns FC announced today that Providence Park will host the 2018 NWSL Championship on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT on Lifetime.

“It is tribute to the amazing atmosphere created by the Portland Thorns FC and their supporters at Providence Park that the 2018 NWSL Championship will be back in the Rose City,” said NWSL Managing Director Amanda Duffy. “Providence Park is one of the most historic venues in the country and Portland is a city that boasts one of the most vibrant soccer scenes in America, making it a wonderful place to celebrate the culmination of the 2018 season.”

Providence Park has hosted three NWSL playoff games, including the 2015 championship match, which featured the largest crowd for an NWSL Championship match in league history (13,264). Thorns FC have led the NWSL in attendance in each of the league’s first five seasons.

 “We are thrilled to be hosting the NWSL Championship once again this season,” said Mike Golub, president of business for Thorns FC. “As was the case in 2015, Providence Park will be a terrific setting for the league’s signature event.”

 Tickets go on sale to the public on Thursday, June 7, at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT. Fans will be able to purchase tickets by calling (888) 736-6849 or online at www.thornsfc.com. In addition, fans are also able to purchase tickets at the Providence Park box office. The Providence Park box office is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. Portland Thorns FC Annual Members will have access to an exclusive presale beginning Tuesday, June 5, with details to be emailed to annual members later this month. Tickets will be held for fans of both participating teams and will be made available in a special sales window once the teams are set.

Home to Thorns FC, the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer and T2 of the United Soccer League, Providence Park seats 21,144 with an extensive stadium-expansion project underway to add approximately 4,000 seats for 2019. Thorns FC have led the NWSL in attendance in each of the league’s first five seasons, averaging 17,653 fans during the 2017 campaign. Originally constructed in 1926, the stadium has held a variety of premier sporting events over the decades, including the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2014 MLS All-Star Game and the 2015 NWSL Championship.

At the conclusion of the NWSL season, the top four teams in the standings qualify for the playoffs with the higher-seeded teams hosting the semifinal matches on the weekend of Sept. 14-16. The 2018 NWSL Championship marks the fourth consecutive year the title match is set to be contested at a predetermined site.

Lifetime will broadcast live all three games of the 2018 NWSL Playoffs and the matches will also be available for both live and on-demand streaming via the Lifetime iOS and Android apps and MyLifetime.com. International fans can watch on the NWSL app and NWSLsoccer.com.

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is the longest-running women’s professional soccer league in the United States. Now in its sixth season, the league features nine clubs including the Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, Utah Royals FC and Washington Spirit.

 

Q&A: Michelle Betos, Seattle Reign FC

Betos is second in the league with 17 saves in four games

Seattle Reign FC goalkeeper Michelle Betos has recorded 17 saves this season. (Photo credit: Stephen Brashear/isiphotos.com)

There have been a lot of homecomings for Seattle Reign FC goalkeeper Michelle Betos this year.

This past January, the Reign announced the re-signing of Betos, she had played with the team in 2013, the start of her NWSL career. After spending 2017 in Norway playing for Vålerenga in the Toppserien, Betos made her 2018 return to the NWSL and has started in every match for the Reign so far this season.

The goalkeeper has come up big for the Reign this year, earning 17 saves for a league-second best and has one shutout. On Saturday, the Queens, N.Y.-native will return to another familiar turf, making her second big NWSL homecoming of the year.

The Reign will meet Portland Thorns FC for the big Cascadia Rivalry clash for Week 6 action on Saturday, May 5 at 3:30 p.m. ET (Lifetime). Betos spent 2014-2016 with the Thorns earning 2015 Goalkeeper of the Year honors and leading the team to the 2016 NWSL Shield. After winning the Shield with Portland, Betos’ contract expired and she decided to travel overseas to play in Norway.

As it all comes full circle for Betos this weekend, NWSL Media got the chance to catch up her ahead of Saturday’s game.

Question: Big day for you on Saturday returning to Portland, how are you feeling?

Michelle Betos: You know I’ve thought about this a lot definitely since signing for Seattle, but going into it I feel like I’m a couple different people. You know from the personal side, I’m going to see my friends! I’m going to see Nadine [Angerer], who I’ve played with and she coached me, so it means a lot. You know I think the most emotional part, honestly, is seeing the fans that were so good to me. So there is definitely that side that I’ve thought about. But what has really taken over especially since being with my team in Seattle and buying into what were doing here is that this is just another game and I really want to win. It means a lot to the fans and every single game in this league is a battle and tough. In a lot of ways it is just another game and it is something we are going to give everything to win, not just because it is Portland, but because every point counts in this league.

Q: What are some things you have been focusing on this week ahead of Saturday?

Betos: [Vlatko Andonovski] is very defensive minded, I think he has a great defensive mind, which I really appreciate as a goalkeeper. From coach we have talked a lot about  how they have threats, we have to think about that they have [Christine] Sinclair, Andressinha, Tobin [Heath], and you know I’ve been fortunate enough to play with them, and now being on the other side against them I’m very aware of their strengths and what they bring and what we need to worry about. But, then if you look at our roster we have been talking about offensively how can we exploit the spaces they have given in the past games because we also have great players who can create individually and I think play really well together.

Q: Is this Cascadia Rivalry something you as a player look forward to?

Betos: Absolutely, just because the fans are such a big part of what we do. The support from our community is everything in terms of just growing this game, especially out here. A rivalry like this is incredible, you know I wish there were more in women’s soccer, but for us, like I said, I think it is just [that] we want to win so bad every day, we’re all so competitive; even 5-v-5 games at practice can feel like the World Cup sometimes, so it is hard to say any one big game is bigger than another, but we do realize how much this means to our fans and our support system, so of course we want to win. But I think that is the case every game.

Q: Spending the past year in Norway must of been an experience, how does it feel to be back?

Betos: Being back is great! It is funny because I did spend so much time in the NWSL that I almost can’t understand that last year happened without me here. Sometimes I feel like I have such a great handle on things because I’ve been a part of this league for so long, and then all of a sudden I’m like “Look who is that, when did she come?” So I have had to do a little re-learning I guess or learning of the new players and the trades that happened because I was removed last year. But I think I just came in and there are definitely different challenges in Norway, but I think I grew a lot there and coming back I feel very much at home and I’ve grown up a lot and hopefully elevated my game to better play.

Q: When you make back-to-back saves like you did last weekend, what kind of rush is it like as a keeper making those blocks for your team?

Betos: I talk with Jasmyne Spencer about this a lot because she’s my roommate and she’s a forward and we look at the game so differently and she always talks about celebrating a goal and things like that, but for me, and I would have to assume the same for most goalkeepers there isn’t much time to celebrate — whether you have made a great play or a routine save, the game just goes on. There is no stop. The ball is either in your hands and you have to find the next point for the attack or you have given up a corner or something and you are setting up for that, so as a goalkeeper short term memory for the good or the bad is prominent in what we do and honestly most days no matter what I have done back there I feel like I am just doing my job.

Q: Against a team like Portland you are sure to have your hands full, who is a player or players that you know you need to have you defense lock in on?

Betos: I have been fortunate enough to play with some of those girls, there are a lot of special players there in a lot of different ways. I think the obvious answers are Tobin and Sinc, they have just proven themselves time and time again, and even Tobin coming off an injury is already looking like Tobin again with her finish the other day. At the end of the day, the league we are only at nine teams with so much talent and I think that there are players on every roster from 1-20 that you really need to respect and understand and that bring different things, and that has been exciting coming back to. You know that is something that I really missed, the true competitiveness and the high level of all the players in this league. Of course, even Lindsey Horan is an incredible player and I have been lucky to play with those girls, but you cant just pick one, I don’t think you can do that with any team in this league right now.

Q: What about on your team? Who is a player that challenges you the most in net?

Betos: Thats a funny question, because you know Naho [Kawasumi] really loves to mess with goalkeepers whether she is megging you or chipping you she just makes it looks so effortless and so easy and you just want to tackle her, but she’s just this cute little thing that I couldn’t even catch if I tried. So she is always a challenge because she is so hard to read and is so capable of so many things. I think Jodie Taylor is one of the best and most well-rounded finishers in the game, so she is someone that is just so fun to train against because you never know what she is going to do and keeps you honest. And then there is [Megan Rapinoe] Pinoe and the way the ball moves off her foot is just insane, but we have so much talent on our team and it really is diversified. I think that every single day I am challenged at practice at such a high level, so it inevitably makes me better and the players around us all better.

Q: I am sure there are several so far, but what is a moment from this season that has been particularly special?

Betos: Getting the win at home, starting that off right in Seattle was a big moment for us. Washington is a good team and I think the offseason is so long and you hear about player signings and who is going to be on your team and then the preseason people coming in and out, [so just] to have us all there and pull it together and pull out the win, yeah I think that was really special to do that at home and some of the fans get to know the new players and the new names.

Q: As we all know, Portland is a hub for great food. Are there are any places you’re excited to go back to this weekend?

Betos: There are so many places I loved in Portland. Right across the street there is a Mexican place that actually has all of our posters up and they were always so good to me and my family, so you know I definitely need to stop in there because they were just so supportive and they have a cultured Caveman restaurant there that is paleo that I frequented and I always dragged my teammates in all the time. There are definitely places like that and coffee shops, but also just the people, some of those girls were my best friends, so I am excited to see them, but that all stays off the field, so I am excited to be in Providence playing again.

Q: And finally, because we are all thinking it, do you ever still think about that header-goal?

Betos: The only time I ever really think about it is when other people bring it up. It is usually the first thing a fan will say or they will ask, “When will you score again?” and I feel bad letting them down that that may or may not happen again, but yeah I don’t think about it too much. It was such a cool experience when I was there with my teammates and with the fans there, because I think it meant a lot to them, but at the end of the day, I’m a goalkeeper and to be honest I hate goals so it was a cool moment and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but my focus is way more on saving the ball than scoring them every day.

Sky Blue FC waive Erin Simon

Simon had been with Sky Blue FC since 2016

Sky Blue FC defender Erin Simon made 26 appearances for the club. (Photo credit: Robyn Walsh McNeil/isiphotos.com)

Defender Erin Simon has been waived by Sky Blue FC, the club announced Friday.

Simon joined Sky Blue FC in 2016 and made 26 appearances in her time with the team. She suffered a left foot fracture last season and began this season on the 45-day disabled list due to hardware being removed from the same foot.

Also on Friday, Sky Blue FC announced that midfielder Thaisa and defender Amanda Frisbie are officially with the team. Thaisa missed the first three games of the season due to international duty with Brazil.

 

U.S. Soccer issues statement on public warning from USADA accepted by Abby Dahlkemper

The North Carolina Courage defender missed a match on April 18 while waiting for approval of a TUE

North Carolina Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

A public warning was issued on Friday to North Carolina Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for failing to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption before using a prescribed medication. U.S. Soccer said that Dahlkemper has accepted the warning. The medication is prohibited without the TUE.

U.S. Soccer said that Dahlkemper missed the Courage’s match on April 18 — which ended her record consecutive minutes streak — as she waited for the approval of the TUE. Dahlkemper played all 90 minutes for the Courage on April 21 after the TUE was approved.

U.S. Soccer issued a statement:

“After discussions with Abby and USADA, and after reviewing Abby’s medical information, we fully understand that Abby’s use of the prescribed medication spironolactone without a secured TUE resulted in the public warning. She received the medication from a personal doctor to treat acne and it is not related to performance enhancement in any way. Abby had declared the use of her medication on her doping control form at the time of the sample collection, and has subsequently obtained a TUE for the medication from USADA, so she can continue to take it. We fully cooperated with USADA during the disciplinary process and in securing the TUE on Abby’s behalf to ensure the situation could be resolved quickly.”

In the same U.S. Soccer news release, Dahlkemper issued a statement:

“As athletes, we are responsible for knowing about the medications we take. I made the mistake of not being more diligent about a medication my doctor prescribed for my persistent skin condition and I should have confirmed that the medication was free of all banned substances. The medication I am taking does not have any performance-enhancing effects and my use of this medication has since been approved by USADA. I appreciate U.S. Soccer guiding me through this process and I’m grateful that this has been resolved. I am looking forward to the rest of the 2018 season.”

 

 

For Midge Purce, playing for Portland is both humbling and exciting

The 22-year-old former Breaker is thriving with the Thorns

Midge Purce has played all but one minute for the Thorns so far this season. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Portland, Oregon — January 30, 2018. A mere two days after it was announced that the Boston Breakers would cease operations, the team’s roster was scattered throughout the league in a dispersal draft. For Midge Purce, about to head into her sophomore season in the NWSL, it had been a stressful 48 hours. “I just tried to stay calm,” she remembers. “I was not in control of anything — and I’m a person who really likes to be in control.” Then she found out — at the same time as the public did — she was headed to Portland.

“I got a call after,” she laughs. “Then I’m just thinking, ‘In two weeks I’m moving to the West Coast, where I’ve never been before, and I’m playing for the returning champs.'”

It was a whirlwind start to a new chapter in Purce’s career, one where just about everything is new: the position she’s playing, the pace and intensity of training, the size of the home crowd. For the most part, though, you wouldn’t know she was in unfamiliar territory by watching her — the 22-year-old Harvard graduate has made an immediate impression with her one-on-one play, starting with the Thorns’ preseason tournament, and is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Portland. As the hard-working forward settles in with her new team, the future looks even more promising.

The Thorns have lined up in a 3-5-2 formation to start every game so far this year. This shape is relatively unusual in the NWSL, deploying three center backs and two wingbacks — a hybrid position with both attacking and defensive responsibilities. That’s the job Purce was handed when she arrived in Portland. It’s an extremely taxing position physically, requiring players to push up the wings in the attacking phase of play, then sprint back to mark the opposing team’s wingers and overlapping fullbacks.

“It’s a demanding position,” says Portland coach Mark Parsons, “but it’s a really rewarding position, because when we get it right, we get those players, [Meghan Klingenberg] and Midge, on the ball with space, they can really hurt oppositions.” That threat was especially on display in Portland’s home opener against Orlando, when Purce bombed up the right wing again and again, sometimes beating two or three defenders to serve the ball in to Ifeoma Onumonu or Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic.

In many senses, Purce is tailor-made for this role. “We look at Midge’s strengths,” says Parsons. “She’s a great one-on-one defender stopping people across. She can combine and link. She loves to cross from all distances. She beats people on the dribble. She runs at speed on the dribble. … She gets to do all those things that match her strengths.”

In fact, the Thorns had an eye on Purce long before the dispersal draft. “We really wanted to draft her [in the 2017 NWSL College Draft],” says Parsons. “You can help and teach a player a lot about how to pass the ball, how to move, how to support the ball. … What you can’t teach is this individual ability to beat players on the dribble, the individual ability to see gaps and expose them with your first touch, with your one-on-one moves, and she brings that.”

That’s not to say it’s been easy. Asked how different her current role is from that of a winger or a fullback, both of which she’s played in the past, she says, “It’s not even close. It’s very unfamiliar. I felt like coming here, I started from ground zero in my role, in terms of understanding what the responsibilities were.”

Understanding the requirements of her specific position is just one of the new challenges Purce has been adapting to. “[This team] move [the ball] really quickly,” she says. “The speed of play is fast, and I want to be able to play just as fast, if not faster, on a consistent basis.”

Part of the reason for that demanding pace is Portland’s strong roster, which includes players like U.S. internationals Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, and Emily Sonnett, Canadian captain Christine Sinclair, and (as of last week, when they arrived after wrapping up World Cup qualifiers) Brazilian and Australian internationals Andressinha and Ellie Carpenter.

The other reason is a deeper one that transcends individual players: the culture within Parsons’ Thorns team. “You can have all the ideas in the world, but nothing beats having really hardworking players turn up and work the right way every single day,” he explains. “Throw anyone in there, and they’re immersed into playing fast, doing the right thing, gritting it out, and being the best every day. … It’s turning up day in and day out and working at your best. It all comes back to that.”

Purce is embracing that environment, taking it upon herself to show up and get a little bit better every day. “I want to grow. I want to be a better player in general. I think I’ve said consistency 50 times, but I want to be consistent. I want to be quality.”

Her service into the box is one area she identifies as wanting to improve. “There are some days where I’m pretty decent, then there are other days where it’s really not good enough,” she says. “I think that’s part of being at Portland. You have all these players who are consistently giving you quality on the field, and that’s where I want to be.”

“Whenever I’m talking about a player that’s done a lot for us,” said Parsons back in preseason, “what always comes next is their mentality and their mindset to want to work hard, to want to improve. Midge has been the biggest, best student of the game.”

Off the field, Purce, a self-identified foodie, has been eating her way through the Rose City’s restaurants and food carts. Although she hasn’t had the chance to get out and explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest yet (it’s been a rainy spring, anyway), she also enjoys spending time in nature. “My dad needs to send me my fishing poles so I could go fishing!” she says. Back home, “I go with my dad and my brother, or sometimes my brother and I go by ourselves, which is a fun time. He’s more rowdy and he’ll bring, like, speakers, and I’m like, ‘You’re scaring the fish away!'”

At the same time as almost everything in Portland is new, that newness is both challenging and exciting. She describes playing alongside some of the giants of the women’s game, players like Sinclair and Heath — who nutmegged Purce with her very first touch back in training — as “the most humbling experience. … They’re just class players, but they’re such kind and humble people, and they made it really easy to just kind of jump in and do my best.”

For a young player who already looks right at home starting for a team with one of the league’s most talented rosters, the future is bright. “We’re not scratching the surface yet,” says Parsons. “If she continues putting in the hours on and off the field, there’s no ceiling for her.”

April Team of the Month

The April Team of the Month presented by Cutter

Four members of the North Carolina Courage and four members of the Washington Spirit lead the way on the April Team of the Month, announced on Thursday. They are joined by April Player of the Month Sofia Huerta of the Chicago Red Stars, as well as Utah Royals defender Becky Sauerbrunn and Portland Thorns FC defender Emily Sonnett.

The April Team of the Month was selected by the NWSL Media Association.

 

 

GK: Aubrey Bledsoe, Washington Spirit

In April, Aubrey Bledsoe won back-to-back Save of the Week honors for her penalty kick stop in Portland and her diving save at home vs. the Red Stars. In three games, she made 15 saves, helping the Spirit earn two draws to close out the month.


D: Jaelene Hinkle, North Carolina Courage

The Courage earned two shutouts in April and allowed four goals in their four games. Jaelene Hinkle helped on the defensive side of the ball with 12 tackles won and six interceptions. She also contributed on offense with nine chances created.


D: Estelle Johnson, Washington Spirit

Estelle Johnson made 22 clearances in April and added eight interceptions, three tackles won and four blocks. She made a pair of stellar slides to win the ball in a 1-1 draw vs. Portland.


D: Becky Sauerbrunn, Utah Royals FC

Becky Sauerbrunn held down the defense for Utah Royals FC in April with six interceptions, six clearances, one block and three tackles won in three games.


D: Emily Sonnett, Portland Thorns FC

Emily Sonnett recorded 12 clearances, three tackles won, one block and two interceptions as the Thorns went 1-0-2 in April.  


M: Sofia Huerta, Chicago Red Stars

Sofia Huerta was named April Player of the Month after scoring two goals as the Red Stars went 2-0-2. She added six shots on goal, five tackles won and nine chances created. She also won the Week 4 Player of the Week.


M: Crystal Dunn, North Carolina Courage

Crystal Dunn tallied three goals and an assist as North Carolina stayed unbeaten with a 3-0-1 record in April. She also contributed 10 chances created.


M: McCall Zerboni, North Carolina Courage

McCall Zerboni won Player of the Week twice in April — in Week 3 after scoring two goals vs. the Spirit and again in Week 5 for her midfield dominance in the Courage’s 2-0 win over the Dash. Defensively, in four April games, she recorded 18 interceptions and 14 tackles won.


F: Francisca Ordega, Washington Spirit

Francisca Ordega is riding a three-game scoring streak into May, having earned a goal in each of Washington’s three April games. She also contributed on the defensive side of the ball with 11 tackles won.


F: Jessica McDonald, North Carolina Courage

Jessica McDonald helped the first-place Courage in April with a goal and two assists, as well as eight chances created.


F: Mallory Pugh, Washington Spirit

Mallory Pugh earned a goal and an assist in April, adding three chances created and a 76.8% passing accuracy.

 

Chicago Red Stars midfielder Sofia Huerta voted April Player of the Month

Sofia Huerta scored twice in April

Sofia Huerta scored two goals in April for the Chicago Red Stars. (Photo credit:

Chicago Red Stars midfielder Sofia Huerta has earned NWSL Player of the Month honors for April, as voted by the NWSL Media Association.

The Red Stars played four games in April and Huerta scored twice in Week 4 action. The midfielder was also named Week 4 Player of the Week for her two goals in two games performance.

She scored her first goal against the Houston Dash on Wednesday, April 18 and her second goal against Sky Blue FC on Saturday, April 21. In Week 5 action, Huerta helped her team earn one point on the road against the Washington Spirit on Saturday, April 28. For the month of April she helped the Red Stars go 2-0-2 in league play – they are in second place in the league standings with an overall record of 2-1-3.

Huerta’s goals in April were ones to remember – the first sealed a 3-0 victory over the Houston Dash and her second against Sky Blue was the fifth-fastest goal in NWSL history, she scored just 44 seconds into the game. While Huerta didn’t score in Week 5, she was a key asset in holding the Red Stars midfield together against the Spirit. In addition to her pair of goals on the month, Huerta also had six total shots on goal and created nine chances. Her six shots on goal are fourth in the league.

Huerta is no stranger to league honors, she has been honored NWSL Player of the Week on four different occasions and also earned NWSL Player of the Month for May in 2015.

 

The NWSL Player of the Month is selected each month of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis. For more information on the NWSL Media Association, follow them on Twitter.

Watch: 3 Moments from Week 5

Janine van Wyk, Becca Moros and Sydney Leroux

Orlando Pride forward Sydney Leroux in action vs. Seattle Reign FC in Week 5. (Photo credit: Jeremy Reper/isiphotos.com)

Three key moments from Week 5:

  1. Houston Dash defender Janine van Wyk‘s blocked shots
  2. Utah Royals FC defender Becca Moros‘ strong defense
  3. Orlando Pride forward Sydney Leroux‘s defensive work

 

Watch 3 Moments from Week 5 below, and catch all past weeks on the YouTube playlist.

Alyssa Kleiner signs with Seattle Reign FC

The former Spirit defender joins the Reign

Alyssa Kleiner last played for the Spirit in 2017. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com)

Seattle Reign FC have signed defender Alyssa Kleiner, the team announced Tuesday.

Kleiner played most recently with the Washington Spirit in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, appearing in 35 games, before being waived in February. She played for Portland Thorns FC in 2015. Kleiner was also a non-roster invitee for the Courage this preseason.

“We are excited to add Alyssa to our roster – we have been trying to find a way to bring her to Seattle for several months, so we are happy we were finally able to make it happen,” said head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “Alyssa will bring depth and add pace to our back line, complementing a group that has performed well this season.”

The team said she will be available for selection on Saturday in Portland.

Goal of the Week: Tobin Heath

Tobin Heath scored her first goal of 2018

Portland Thorns FC Tobin Heath scored her first goal of the season in Week 5. (Photo credit: Rob Gray/isiphotos.com)

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath’s chip finish for the equalizer has been voted NWSL Goal of the Week for Week 5.

Watch the Week 5 Goal of the Week below and catch up on all of this year’s Goals of the Week on the YouTube playlist.

 

Player of the Week: McCall Zerboni

The Courage midfielder has won Player of the Week twice this month

McCall Zerboni also won Player of the Week for Week 3 (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

North Carolina Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni has been named Week 5 Player of the Week by the NWSL Media Association. She earns the honor for the second time this month, also winning the nod for Week 3.

Zerboni helped the Courage earn three points in Week 5 after defeating the Houston Dash 2-0 on Saturday, April 28. While Zerboni didn’t score on the day, she was a key piece in the midfield posting a 83.6% passing accuracy percentage. Zerboni was hard to miss on the day making eight tackles and creating two chances for her team on 87 touches, according to Opta.

The Courage (5-0-1) hold the top spot in the league standings and head into Week 6 undefeated. Zerboni has now won Player of the Week twice in her career and last year she was named to the Best IX for the first time.

Zerboni first won Player of the Week this year after scoring a brace in the Courage’s 4-2 road win over the Washington Spirit on April 14. She has two goals so far this season.

 

The NWSL Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis. For more information on the NWSL Media Association, follow them on Twitter.

Save of the Week: Aubrey Bledsoe

Bledsoe wins Save of the Week for second-straight week

Aubrey Bledsoe leads the league in saves with 29. (Photo credit:

Washington Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe‘s diving save against the Chicago Red Stars in Week 5 action has earned her Save of the Week for the second-straight week.

Watch her big save below and catch up on all of this year’s Saves of the Week on our YouTube playlist.

Week 5 Power Rankings: Courage remain on top for fourth week straight

NWSL Power Rankings presented by Cutter

Courage forward Kristen Hamilton scored her first goal of the season on Saturday vs. the Houston Dash. (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

See where each team falls in the fifth edition of the power rankings.

 

1

NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE
5-0-1, 16 pts

Change:
Last week: 1

The Courage roll through another week unbeaten after defeating the Houston Dash 2-0 in Week 5 play. Goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo made three saves to earn her fourth shutout of the season. The Courage improve to 5-0-1 and sit in first place in the league standings with 16 points. On Saturday, Crystal Dunn scored her third goal of the season and Kristen Hamilton also scored, her first tally of the year. The Courage will have a good week to prepare for Week 6 action when they host the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, May 6.


2

CHICAGO RED STARS
2-1-3, 9 pts

Change:
Last week: 2

The Red Stars are unbeaten in their last four games and earned one point in Week 5 after a 1-1 draw against the Washington Spirit. Alyssa Mautz stepped up for her team, earning her third goal of the season. The Red Stars also welcomed 2017 NWSL MVP Sam Kerr  to the pitch for the first time this season. With the addition of Kerr, plus midfielder Julie Ertz now healthy, the Red Stars are in good shape for a quick turnaround into Week 6 play. The Red Stars will host the Orlando Pride for a midweek match on Wednesday, May 2.


3

PORTLAND THORNS FC
2-1-2, 8 pts

Change:
Last week: 3

Hello, Tobin Heath. The Thorns secured a point on the road in Week 5 with a 1-1 draw against Utah Royals FC. Heath subbed into the match in the 57th minute for her second appearance of the year and scored just ten minutes later when forward Christine Sinclair saw Heath open at the top of the penalty area. Even with the absence of goalkeeper Adrianna Franch due to injury (right meniscus tear), the Thorns were solid in the back with Britt Eckerstrom, in net for her second-straight game. The Thorns will be back in action on Saturday for the Game of the Week on Lifetime against Seattle Reign FC.


4

SEATTLE REIGN FC
2-1-1, 7 pts

Change:
Last week: 4

Seattle Reign midfielder Allie Long came up big for her team in Week 5, scoring in the 33rd minute off of a free kick opportunity. On the other end of the field Michelle Betos was key in net, making a stellar pair of back-to-back saves to keep the fully stacked Orlando Pride offense to just one goal. The Reign and Pride drew 1-1 on Saturday, and the Reign welcomed back Nahomi KawasumiRumi Utsugi and  Steph Catley to the field on the evening. The Reign will travel to Providence Park for Week 6 on Saturday, May 5.


5

ORLANDO PRIDE
1-2-2, 5 pts

Change: ▲ 2
Last week: 7

Welcome back, Marta. The Orlando Pride got a handful of players back and on the pitch in Saturday night’s draw against the Reign. The Pride saw after Marta, MonicaAlanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond all return to the field and Marta, in her first game back since Week 1, put her team on the board in the second half. Marta gave the Pride the equalizer off of a free kick from 25 yards out. The Pride enter Week 6 in full force when they travel to Toyota Park on Wednesday to face the Chicago Red Stars.


6

WASHINGTON SPIRIT
1-2-2, 5 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 5

The Washington Spirit earned a point at home against the Red Stars thanks to Francisca Ordega stepping up once again for her team. Ordega earned her third goal in as many games on Saturday night. Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe kept the Red Stars to just one goal on the night, coming up big against a handful of Chicago shots. The Spirit will travel to Rio Tinto for the first time on Saturday and will look for their second win of the year.


7

UTAH ROYALS FC
0-1-4, 4 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 6

Utah Royals FC made headway in Week 4 when they scored two goals against the league-leading Courage, and Week 5 saw similar growth. Utah Royals FC earned a point at home against the Thorns thanks to the 1-v-1 work and finesse from forward Amy Rodriguez. Utah Royals FC are still in search of their first franchise win and will get to play at home again this week when they welcome the Spirit to Rio Tinto.


8

SKY BLUE FC
0-2-1, 1 pt

Change: ▲ 1
Last week: 9

Sky Blue FC had a bye in Week 5 and will look for their first win of the year when they welcome the Houston Dash to Yurcak Field on Saturday, May 5. In Sky Blue’s last match they split points with the Chicago Red Stars in a 1-1 result.


9

HOUSTON DASH
0-3-2, 2 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 8

The Dash drop down to last place after falling to the Courage 2-0 on Saturday. The Dash are still in search of their first win of the year and have only scored one goal, rookie forward Kimberly Keever’s in Week 1. The Dash will travel to New Jersey for Week 6, a match that will put two of the league’s winless teams head-to-head. Forward Kealia Ohai earned her first start of the year over the weekend and will likely be the offensive point person to get the Dash’s attack going.

Week 5 Rewind

Heath, Rodriguez and Marta among the goal scorers in Week 5

Portland Thorns FC Tobin Heath scored her first goal of the season in Week 5. (Photo credit: Rob Gray/isiphotos.com)

Big saves and big goals — a big Week 5 in the NWSL:

 

April 28: Houston Dash 0 | North Carolina Courage 2

Crystal Dunn scored in the third minute and Kristen Hamilton added a rocket shot from distance in the 48th minute as the Courage improved to 5-0-1 to start the season. The Dash have not scored since Week 1. Recap


April 28: Washington Spirit 1 | Chicago Red Stars 1

Francisca Ordega scored first for the Spirit and Alyssa Mautz equalized for the Red Stars. Sam Kerr played her first game with her new team and Julie Ertz returned for Chicago. Recap


April 28: Orlando Pride 1 | Seattle Reign FC 1

Allie Long scored her first goal as a member of Seattle Reign FC, after spending the last five seasons with the Thorns. Marta equalized on a free kick in the 61st minute. Recap


April 28: Utah Royals FC 1 | Portland Thorns FC 1

Amy Rodriguez scored her first goal of 2018 and the first home goal in Utah Royals FC history. Thorns midfielder Tobin Heath scored her first goal of the year to tie the game. Utah Royals FC are still in search of their first NWSL win. Recap

Q&A: Merritt Mathias, North Carolina Courage

Mathias scored her first goal for the Courage in Week 4

Mathias earned NWSL Goal of the Week honors in Week 4. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

North Carolina Courage defender Merritt Mathias’ shot, or the reaction from everyone who witnessed it, may have been heard around the world. Mathias scored her first goal of the season on Saturday, April 21 against Utah Royals FC in NWSL Week 4 play.

Her strike opened up scoring for the Courage and was a one time strike from far out into the upper-90. Her goal earned a spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays the following morning and earned NWSL Goal of the Week honors.

But for Mathias this goal was just a goal—and something that her team needed. The Birmingham, Ala., native joined the Courage this season after playing the past three seasons for Seattle Reign FC. Mathias has played all over the field, primarily on the attacking side, but for Paul Riley’s squad she has been the consistent starting right back. In the Courage’s five games this season she has started each contest and helped her team earn three clean sheets.

Ahead of the Courage’s road trip to Houston on Saturday for the Game of the Week on Lifetime, NWSL Media caught up with Mathias.

Question: I think what is on everyone’s mind right now is this shot of yours from Week 4. How did you feel after that went in the net?

Merritt Mathias: I think if you’ve seen my celebration, I was elated that it went in the net! I picked up my head right when I saw it going into the upper-v and I thought, “Oh my gosh!” The funny thing is I thought in my head when we were in the game that was just outside the 18, I had no idea how far away I was. I think when the ball got played back and I was just like, “This is the ball that you dream of and I am just going to try and connect cleanly with it.” So actually when I got into the locker room after the game and saw the playback I was like, “Oh my gosh I was so much farther out than I thought!” Which is probably why I just was like, “I’m taking it,” like in my head I was like, “I’m pretty close this is fine to do.” So I connected well with it and it went in the net, so it was pretty awesome.

Q: It must of felt extra sweet scoring that goal in front of your mom, what did it mean to you having her at the game? And what did she say to you afterwards?

Mathias: My mom was here, so yeah it was wonderful that she was in the stands and could see it in person. It is one of those moments that is just always fun to have one of your loved ones there and supporting you and I’m glad she got to see it live and not on TV. It was really special to have her there and she was equally as excited and was getting messages from all of our family friends. She was really proud, so it was really awesome to have her here.

Q: Congrats on earning Goal of the Week, by the way, how did it feel earning that nod?

Mathias: It is so awesome that it is all done by votes and it is all done by fans of ours, so it is cool that people get involved and watch and definitely thought it was worth their votes, so I’m so appreciative of that! But for me it is just a goal and it is a goal we needed, so I try not to get too involved in that stuff. You know it is really awesome I think and it’s great for fans, but for me it’s like that was that and now I need to prepare for the next game and be back to what my job is. But yeah I try to not get too wrapped up in it.

Q: Looking ahead to Saturday, what are some things you and the team are doing to prepare for Houston?

Mathias: I think for us, especially for our backline, we’re focusing again on not giving up easy goals and stuff that is in our hands and preventable, we’re trying to solidify that. I think our focus as a backline is to get a clean sheet and work as hard as possible to do that. And as a team just breaking lines and getting forward and just kind of growing and taking a step forward on what we have been doing in the past four or five games, so I think it is just another step forward and another opportunity to get better and put some things together that may have been a bit off, so yeah just to get better in certain areas and continue building on the things that we’ve been successful at.

Q: Although you’re playing in a defensive position this year, there seems to be endless opportunities for you to go forward into the attack – as someone who has played all over the field in your career — has this been particularly fun for you?

Mathias: Absolutely. I think one of my things  is that when I was in Seattle I was jumping as a fullback and then jumping up into the 9 and playing both of those roles and they are so extremely different in the mentality and what you need to do and how you defend and all those things, so I think it has been wonderful for me to consistently get games under my belt as an outside back. I think you only get better and solidify yourself finding a rhythm within practices, within games, but I think for me it has been a lot of fun. I really love this position, it is a lot of work, but it has been fun to get up and down the field and be a part of the attack and be a part of the build going forward. So I think for me I have always wanted to be in this [position in the] league. Yes, I have jumped around, but at this point in my career I am ready to and want to be great at one position. I no longer want to be good at multiple positions. You know it is a blessing and a curse in that right. This has been one of the most fun and better starts to my season and I am just looking to make it consistent and get better and do all those things that are necessary as a right back to have a signifiant impact for this team.

Q: How would you evaluate your play so far this year?

Mathias: I think for me I have done pretty well. I think the attacking side just comes naturally and that is where I kind of find my groove and confidence and yeah I’m not a natural defender so I think just fine tuning that and getting comfortable. You’re going to see things over and over again, soccer isn’t a game that is always so completely different. In certain positions you’ll always see similar patterns and you’ll see things you need to do in certain scenarios so for me it is just recognizing those scenarios and like reading and going with my gut and just sticking with it in my outside back position. It is about being like I’m ok and confident in my defensive decision making. So I think for that, that is one of my biggest things just continuing to grow in my defensive play. Offensively that is the fun part for me, that is the part I’m like yes I can’t wait to get the ball and go forward. I think for me I can always get better at making my crossing more consistent and I would like to get a few assists in my column, so yeah just keep working and getting forward and making things happen.

Q: What has it been like playing for Paul Riley?

Mathias: I think for me, I always wanted to play for Paul again in an environment that was structured and competitive and what the NWSL is. I think for me I always said if I was given an opportunity and if the stars aligned that if I had the chance to go play for him I absolutely would, and thankfully they did. I think for me it has been a great adjustment. I think it’s one of those things — I’m not a rookie, I’ve been in this league, this is my sixth season and it is not that I’m new, but I’m new to this group of girls, and to this team, the culture, and the environment that they have created here. What they have created is something I really love. When I got here I knew it was important to be really fit and just make a mark on who I am, how I play and who I am as a person and just kind of earn the respect of the players here, because it is not just given to you, it is definitely earned. No matter if you’ve been in the league forever or a rookie, when you come to a new team you have something to prove a little bit. So yeah after that the transition here has been seamless. I love the girls. Love the team. I have just had a really great couple of months in Raleigh.

Q: What is one of your favorite memories this season?

Mathias: Oh gosh. There’s a lot. I think for me there is the goal that I scored that would be the one that is kind of obvious, but really my favorite moments are at our practices and right before we get into a huddle or when we start the day off with a joke or something funny. At the beginning of one of our sessions, (Laughs) Chappy (Allysha Chapman), she didn’t have a joke, but she started singing, (Laughs) goodness I can’t remember the song, but she goes all out, well at the following practice. Nate (Thackeray) who is our goalkeeper coach, he just has an accent and he is just so precious, I don’t even know if you can put that in the interview (Laughs), but he is someone who could wrap you up in a bear hug and it will be a great day! Well he performed “Bump n’ Grind” by R. Kelly and I don’t think I have ever laughed harder. So I just think moments like that, there are some special things that go on in practice that are just so funny and are things that only we know and those are the moments that I love the most just the 20-plus players and staff are the only ones that get to experience that. Really you kind of look around and you’re like, “Wow I love this group of people, this is really fun.”

Q: Who is a forward you are excited to match up against this season? 

Mathias: I think I would have to say Pines (Megan Rapinoe.) She’s my best friend. She unfortunately tweaked her hamstring before they came to play us, but I loved playing against her at practice when I was at Seattle. She is one of those players that wants to compete and I feel like I get better playing against her and if I can make it hard for her to play then I have done my job right. She is one of the best in the world at what she does, if not the best in the world at her position, so yeah, I think that matchup will be one that I’m looking forward to. And she can just put a smile on my face in two seconds, so I think she’s one of my favorite people, but also one of my favorite people to play against for sure.

Q: And finally, what are you listening to these days in your headphones?

Mathias: Oh my gosh, anything Drake! He can do no wrong in my eyes. I literally have Nice for What on repeat. I definitely can always get down with Beyonce’s Formation when that song comes on I’m like yes! I love Adele for my chill mornings and I can listen to her always. Also the new J Cole album I’ve been listening to and I really like it. Throw in some Migos! For my pump up music I love rap, but yeah that’s probably my go to right now, but oh of course, shoutout to Cardi B! But I’m definitely looking forward to June because Drake’s album is probably dropping!

Q: What about ‘Bump and Grind’?

Mathias: (Laughs) I just can listen to a song over and over again, but yeah Bump n’ Grind… I will never see it the same way that is for sure! (Laughs)

Thorns sign defender Kelli Hubly

Hubly has played 360 minutes so far this season

Portland Thorns FC defender Kelli Hubly has played every minute this season. (Photo credit: Robin Alam/isiphotos.com)

Defender Kelli Hubly has signed with Portland Thorns FC, the club announced Friday.

Hubly originally signed as a national team replacement player when forward Hayley Raso was away with Australia on international duty.

Hubly has played 90 minutes in all four Thorns game so far this season, stepping in on a backline that has been missing Emily Menges (right tibia stress syndrome) this season. Hubly leads the league in blocks with five and is fifth in the league in interceptions (14) and tackles (16).

“Kelli has been an important piece to our positive start,” Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons said in a team news release. “She has put in the work and has continued to grow and improve during her time here. She has earned this opportunity and we are excited to be able to reward her.”

Hubly made two substitute appearances for the Thorns last season.

 

 

 

Julie Ertz removed from injury report; Week 5 injury updates

Ertz has yet to play for the Red Stars this season

Julie Ertz scored four times for the Red Stars in 2017. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com)

Chicago Red Stars midfielder Julie Ertz has been removed from the injury report, released on Friday ahead of Week 5’s slate of Saturday games.

Ertz had been out the first four weeks of the season with a right knee sprain. She last played for the U.S. women’s national team in the first game of the SheBelieves Cup vs. Germany on March 1.

The Red Stars will also be bolstered by Sam Kerr‘s return from international duty. Kerr, the 2017 NWSL MVP who was acquired in a January trade, has yet to play for the Red Stars this season, but will likely make her debut on Saturday vs. the Spirit.

Other notable updates in the Week 5 injury report:

  • Seattle Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe is still out with a left hamstring strain.
  • North Carolina Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper is questionable with a left ankle sprain.
  • Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Adrianna Franch is out with a right meniscus tear.
  • Portland Thorns FC forward Hayley Raso is out with a left knee sprain.
  • On Friday afternoon, Washington Spirit midfielder Rebecca Quinn (right TFL muscle strain) was upgraded from out to questionable.

 

 

Washington Spirit to play at Audi Field on August 25

The Spirit will face Portland Thorns FC at D.C. United's new stadium

The Washington Spirit will play at Audi Field on August 25. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

The Washington Spirit will host Portland Thorns FC at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. on August 25 at 7 p.m. ET, the club announced on Thursday.

Audi Field is the new stadium for D.C. United of Major League Soccer and will open this summer. D.C. United will play their first game at the new stadium on July 14, and the Spirit will play there five weeks later. The stadium has a capacity of 20,000 and is the first soccer specific stadium in Washington, D.C.

It’ll also be the first women’s professional soccer game in Washington, D.C. since the Washington Freedom played at RFK Stadium in 2010.

With the announcement, the Spirit announced ways for fans to get tickets to the game. From the Spirit news release:

Washington Spirit and D.C. United 2018 Season Ticket Holders will have first selection for tickets to the game, starting on Tuesday, May 1. The game is included as part of the 12-game home schedule for Spirit Season Ticket Holders. D.C. United Season Ticket Holders will also be a part of the exclusive Season Ticket Holder Presale, which runs from May 1-6.

Additional early access to tickets will be available from May 7-13, as the presale extends to the following groups: Fans who have purchased at least one single game ticket to a 2018 Washington Spirit home game, members of Washington Spirit Youth Club Partners and Community Partners, all official Spirit and D.C. United supporters groups, and large groups of 25 or more. Current Audi Field Suite Holders will have until May 15 to book their suites for the game, with any remaining offered for sale thereafter through the Spirit ticket office.

Fans interested in accessing the presale who don’t qualify per the above, can still get access by completing a five-question survey. [SURVEY]

Everyone taking advantage of the two presale periods will have access to tickets for $10 off the public sale prices. Tickets for the game will go on sale to the general public starting on Monday, May 14.

Fans interested in purchasing Youth Group Experiences or renting Audi Field Suites should contact the Washington Spirit sales office at: 301-591-0927.

Complete details on ticketing options is available on the Spirit’s FAQ page. [FAQ]

 

Watch: 3 Moments from Week 4

Estelle Johnson, Jaelene Hinkle and Christine Sinclair made key plays in Week 4

Washington Spirit defender Estelle Johnson has played every minute so far this season. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Three key moments from Week 4:

  1. Washington Spirit defender Estelle Johnson‘s perfectly timed slide tackles
  2. North Carolina Courage defender Jaelene Hinkle‘s defense vs. Seattle Reign FC
  3. Portland Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair‘s quick start vs. the Washington Spirit

Watch 3 Moments from Week 4 below, and catch all past weeks on the YouTube playlist.

Australian forward Kyah Simon joins the Houston Dash

Simon was selected sixth by the Dash in the dispersal draft

Kyah Simon scored three goals for the Breakers in 2016. (Photo credit: Mark Howard/isiphotos.com)

Australian international forward Kyah Simon will join the Houston Dash for the first time this season. Simon was selected sixth by the Dash in the NWSL Dispersal Draft on January, 30 and joins Houston fresh off helping Australia finish second at the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup and earning a berth to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Simon played with Melbourne City FC in the winter before being selected by Houston and scored two goals in her 14 appearances. Before playing for Melbourne City FC, Simon spent a season with former NWSL club the Boston Breakers. Simon played with the Breakers in 2016 and scored three goals in her 23 appearances.

The 26-year-old will be available for Saturday’s Game of the Week on Lifetime against the North Carolina Courage at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Dash will host the league-leading Courage to BBVA Compass Stadium for the first time this year. The club has waived midfielder Allison Wetherington with the move.

Goal of the Week: Merritt Mathias

Mathias scored her first goal of 2018

Mathias scored her first goal of the year in the sixth minute of play vs. Utah Royals FC. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/ isiphotos.com)

North Carolina Courage defender Merritt Mathias‘ one time strike from far out into the upper-90 has been voted NWSL Goal of the Week for Week 4.

Watch the Week 4 Goal of the Week below and catch up on all of this year’s Goals of the Week on the YouTube playlist.

Player of the Week: Sofia Huerta

The Red Stars midfield scored twice in Week 4 play

Huerta has 2 goals and 2 assists for the Red Stars this season. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/ isiphotos.com)

Chicago Red Stars midfielder Sofia Huerta has been voted NWSL Player of the Week for Week 4 by the NWSL Media Association.

Huerta earns the honor after scoring two goals in Week 4 action. She scored her first goal of the week against the Houston Dash on Wednesday, April 18. Huerta’s finish was the game’s final goal and pushed the Red Stars over the Dash 3-0. Huerta earned her second goal of the year against Sky Blue FC on Saturday, April 21. Huerta scored just 44 seconds into the game– which is the fifth-fastest goal in NWSL history.

Huerta was key in helping the Red Stars pick up four points in Week 4. The Red Stars are now 2-1-2 and are second place in the league standings heading into Week 5 play. This is the fourth time Huerta has been honored as the NWSL Player of the Week. She is the seventh player in league history to earn the award on at least four different occasions.

Huerta’s goal against the Dash was also her first of the season. It came in the 74th minute off of cross from Danielle Colaprico. Huerta headed the service home for Chicago’s third goal of the night. The midfielder finished the game with five shots and four on goal, per Opta. She looked like she would get a brace on the night in the 79th minute when she struck the ball from a distance forcing Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell to tip her shot over the crossbar.

Before a minute even passed by on the clock at Toyota Park, Huerta had her team up 1-0 against Sky Blue FC on Saturday night. Huerta hit a right-footed cross that carried far post past Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Huerta’s goal is the second-fastest in Red Stars history, Alyssa Mautz scored in 40 seconds in 2013. Huerta and the Red Stars picked up a point at home in a 1-1 draw against the New Jersey side. Huerta finished the game with five shots and three key passes.

The NWSL Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis. For more information on the NWSL Media Association, follow them on Twitter.

Save of the Week: Aubrey Bledsoe

Bledsoe stopped a penalty kick in Week 4

Through four weeks, Washington Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe leads the NWSL in saves. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Washington Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe‘s penalty kick stop vs. Portland Thorns FC midfielder Lindsey Horan has been voted the NWSL Save of the Week for Week 4 in the NWSL. It’s Bledsoe’s first win of the season.

Watch her big save below and catch up on all of this year’s Saves of the Week on our YouTube playlist.