#FearTheBow: Brittany Ratcliffe emerging as Utah Royals FC’s super-sub

FeatureJune 22

For Steph Catley and the Matildas, the work never stops

FeatureJune 20

Watch: 3 Moments

HighlightsJune 20

Goal of the Week: Brittany Ratcliffe

NWSL AwardsJune 19

Player of the Week: Aubrey Bledsoe

NWSL AwardsJune 19

Morgan Brian signs contract with Red Stars

NewsJune 19

Save of the Week: Britt Eckerstrom

NWSL AwardsJune 19

Trade alert: Press, Johnson to Utah; Huerta, Comeau to Houston; Elby to Chicago

NewsJune 18

Week 11/12 Power Rankings: Utah Royals FC move to No. 2 after ending the Courage’s unbeaten streak

Power RankingsJune 18

Week 12 Rewind

HighlightsJune 18

Imani Dorsey signs full contract with Sky Blue FC

NewsJune 15

ICC schedule announced

NewsJune 15

NWSL players participate in Playing for Pride

NewsJune 14

After an up and down NWSL career, Estelle Johnson is still grinding (and slide tackling)

FeatureJune 14

Rapinoe, Heath score as U.S. beats China PR 2-1

USWNTJune 13

United Bid selected to host 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup

NewsJune 13

Seattle Reign FC acquire Adriana Leon

NewsJune 12

Mathias in USWNT camp, reunited with pal Rapinoe

USWNTJune 12

Schedule & Results: NWSL on international duty in June

NewsJune 11

USWNT and Chile to meet for a pair of friendlies this summer

NewsJune 11

Sinclair scores No. 173 as Canada falls 3-2 to Germany

CANWNTJune 11

A-Rod returns to USWNT on her home field in Utah

USWNTJune 08

Zerboni earns first start in USWNT’s 1-0 win over China PR

USWNTJune 08

Mallory Pugh out 8-10 weeks with knee injury

NewsJune 08

NWSL community celebrates Pride Month

NewsJune 08

Sister, Sister: Tori and Maddie Huster make NWSL history

FeatureJune 08

Alex Morgan scores, USA takes first game from China PR, 1-0

Game RecapJune 07

One year out from the 2019 Women’s World Cup

WWC2019June 07

#McCalledUp: Zerboni back with the USWNT thanks to strong NWSL performance

FeatureJune 07

Dash sign defender Clare Polkinghorne

NewsJune 07

NWSL announces updated TV schedule for Games of the Week

League NewsJune 06

May Team of the Month

NWSL AwardsJune 06

Watch: 3 Moments

HighlightsJune 06

Goal of the Week: Katherine Reynolds

NWSL AwardsJune 05

Player of the Week: Yuki Nagasato

NWSL AwardsJune 05

Save of the Week: Haley Kopmeyer

NWSL AwardsJune 05

Midge Purce out with right ankle sprain

NewsJune 05

Week 10 Power Rankings: Courage untouched, Reign up two spots

Power RankingsJune 03

Week 10 Rewind

HighlightsJune 03

Q&A: Aly Wagner talks NWSL and calling Men’s World Cup games

FeatureJune 01

May Player of the Month: Rachel Daly

NWSL AwardsJune 01

Mallory Pugh out with knee injury

NewsMay 31

Ali Krieger to miss 4-6 weeks with right knee injury

NewsMay 30

Watch: 3 Moments

HighlightsMay 30

Zerboni, Purce, Mathias, Smith named to USWNT roster for June friendlies

USWNTMay 29

Player of the Week: Rachel Daly

Week 9May 29

Week 9 Power Rankings: Courage, Thorns hold top spots

Power RankingsMay 29

Ten NWSL players named to Canada roster for friendly vs. Germany

CANWNTMay 29

Kristie Mewis to miss the rest of the season with left knee sprain

NewsMay 28

Player of the Week: Crystal Dunn

Week 8May 22

#FearTheBow: Brittany Ratcliffe emerging as Utah Royals FC’s super-sub

Ratcliffe has scored two goals this season for Utah

Brittany Ratcliffe's goal was the game-winner in Utah's upset over the Courage in Week 12. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

Brittany Ratcliffe has been wearing an orange bow in her hair since playing at the University of Virginia. What started off as a way for her parents to spot her on the field because all of her teammates also had long, blonde hair has become a gameday staple for the Utah Royals FC forward.

On Saturday night, Ratcliffe’s parents didn’t need to worry about spotting her on the field.

Ratcliffe, wearing her orange bow that she bought from A.C. Moore in 2012, entered the game as a substitute for Utah in the 77th minute. Utah was on the road facing the league-leading and then-undefeated North Carolina Courage in Week 12 action. Ratcliffe jumped right into the match and in the 94th minute scored one of the biggest goals in the NWSL to date.

The New Jersey native’s goal came off of a set piece opportunity for Utah. Utah Royals FC midfielder Diana Matheson took a free kick from a distance that set up a scramble just outside the box. Ratcliffe battled with the Courage’s backline to win the ball and managed to not only win it, but get up, shoot, and finish into the upper left corner for the game-winner. Ratcliffe’s goal spoiled the Courage’s 12-game unbeaten streak and gave her team their third win in the last four games.

“Well it all happened so fast,” Ratcliffe told NWSL Media when reached by phone on Wednesday. “When I saw it go in it was a pure reaction and then I looked up and I saw it was about to go in the net, and I don’t even know what happened after! I just remember screaming so loud, freaking out, and my teammates jumping on me.”

Ratcliffe’s teammates, her coach Laura Harvey, the fans, and her parents — who were in the stands that night — were also freaking out.

“When I went back on social media and everyone was showing me all the videos of the sidelines I had tears in my eyes,” Ratcliffe said. “It was so cool to see how much winning that game and doing well in that game meant to everybody, what it meant to Laura, what it mean to A-Rod [Amy Rodriguez] on the sideline, and even the players on the field.”

“I lost my mind for ten seconds,” head coach Laura Harvey said after the game. “I jumped on Scott. And then I started asking, ‘How much time is left?’”

Ratcliffe felt the same way after she scored.

“There wasn’t a lot of time left and I remember saying, ‘Let’s just win the game. All that matters is that we finish this game off strong and we win the three points.'”

When the match ended Ratcliffe had to hold off on the celebrations — she had to run sprints with the rest of the subs.

“I was a sub so we had to do sprints after. But, right after I ran right over to my parents and you could tell they had both been crying. My mom was like ‘I was crying.’ And I was like, ‘Lock it up mom!’ I think they were glad they were there to see it and be a part of it.”

Ratcliffe has played in seven games this season and recorded three starts. She now has two goals on the year, both against the Courage.

“I don’t care if I’m a starter. I don’t care if I’m a sub. I don’t care if I don’t play at all. I just want us to win,” Ratcliffe said. “At the end of this year if we can make it to playoffs and win a championship it will all be worth it to me.”

For Steph Catley and the Matildas, the work never stops

Catley plays in the NWSL and the W-League, as well as for the Australian national team

Steph Catley has played all 90 minutes in her six games for the Reign this year. (Photo credit: Jane Gershovich/isiphotos.com)

Steph Catley doesn’t get a lot of time off.

Between the NWSL, which runs from March to September, and the W-League, which runs from November to February, she plays club soccer essentially year round. “It’s been five years back to back,” she says — back and forth from Melbourne to Portland, back to Melbourne, to Orlando, back to Melbourne again, and finally to Seattle. “It can be really hard on your body,” she admits.

When we spoke, a few days after the recent FIFA break ended, Catley had just come back from a four-day vacation in Laguna Beach, California. “[My partner and I] got an Airbnb right on the beach and just really relaxed,” she says. “We played on the beach, went in the water, went to good restaurants. We just chilled.”

After that short break, though, it was back to the grind — first to Seattle for a few days of training, then back East for a game against the Washington Spirit. She’s with the Reign until late July, when Australia plays in the Tournament of Nations. Then it’s more NWSL, and after that, back to the W-League in the fall.

It’s a grind familiar to all of the NWSL’s nine Australian internationals, who come to the states to get reps in between the W-League’s condensed four-month seasons. “The W-League is so short that anybody who’s playing in the national team needs to go over and find games wherever that is, Europe or here,” she explains.

Catley and the rest of her generation of Matildas are a group that represents the first generation of Australian footballers who have had a professional league to play in since their careers began. Catley was 14 when the inaugural W-League season kicked off in 2008; a year later, at 15, she was playing for her hometown team, the Melbourne Victory. All those training sessions, all those games at the professional level, add up to a lot of experience with this game. Still just 23 years old, Catley has already played in two World Cups, an Olympics and three Asian Cups.

And all that experience is part of the reason Catley is, in the words of Matildas and Reign teammate Lydia Williams, “one of the most dynamic fullbacks in the world.”

Catley is a player who epitomizes the concept of a modern fullback, the wide player who both defends and attacks, bombing up the wing to send in balls from wide areas, then sprinting back to defend against opposing wingers.

It’s no coincidence that Catley started as a winger herself, playing up front until her first U-17 camp with the Matildas. “We had a friendly against the Japanese under-17s, and our regular left backs were all injured, so they put me back there,” she remembers. While there was plenty to learn to make the switch, it’s a fairly natural transition. Playing fullback is “almost like you’re a winger. You get so much space to go forward. … I’ve always had coaches that want me to go forward, which is what I love to do, and how I love to play football.”

“I guess I must have done okay,” she says of that initial camp in the back line, “and they definitely saw something there, so I got stuck back there for the rest of my career up until now!” she laughs.

These days, she’s more than okay at the position — she’s probably the best left back in the league, if not the world. On the left side of the field for the Reign, she combines with Megan Rapinoe, making overlapping runs to create overloads out wide. She can serve a ball onto a pinhead from the wing or from deep areas; in August last season when she was still with Orlando, she sent a simply ridiculous service in for Alex Morgan, reading her run and placing the ball so that it bounced perfectly into her path.

On defense, she’s one of the toughest one-on-one defenders in the league — and despite her talk of still feeling like a winger at heart, she’s a good enough pure defender that she’s seen some time at center back for the Matildas.

Catley’s career has followed what’s become an archetype for talented Australian players: of the 23-woman Matildas squad called up for the Asian Cup, nine currently play in the NWSL. All eight players in that group who are 25 or younger (Williams is 30) started their W-League careers as teenagers, several, including Catley and Sam Kerr, as young as 15. And Australians are starting to make their way to the NWSL at a young age, too; Ellie Carpenter made her debut for the Portland Thorns shortly after her 18th birthday this spring, and soon became the youngest-ever goal scorer in NWSL history.

“The way I came through the system in Australia,” says Catley, “I think only helped with me getting into the national team early and getting more experience. Now with the national team as a whole, there’s five or six players that came through the system the same time I did … going through the W-League from around 15, 16 years old.”

It’s a career pathway that doesn’t exist yet in the U.S., where the typical route to the pros is through the college system. “I feel it’s a massive benefit for us as a national team, and as young players over here [in the U.S.] and in leagues around the world, I think it’s showing that it’s a good thing.”

Last summer, the talent that system has produced was on full display in the inaugural Tournament of Nations, as Australia won all three of their matches, trouncing Brazil 6-1 and beating the Americans for the first time ever. “That was a big moment for us,” says Catley. “I think it kind of confirmed the hard work we’ve been doing. The U.S. has always been such a powerhouse, and it’s been a struggle for us to kind of catch up and get to a place that on any given day we can actually beat them. I think that’s where we’re at now.”

With a second-place finish this spring in the Asian Cup, the Matildas became one of the first few teams to qualify for the 2019 World Cup. “Obviously that wasn’t the result we wanted with the Asian Cup,” says Catley of Australia’s 1-0 loss to Japan in the final. “We’ve had a goal to win the Asian Cup for the last year or so, when we started doing our goal-setting, so we were pretty disappointed not to get that done considering we played really well on the night. … I think we were on top of them for most of the game and couldn’t score and couldn’t convert our chances, and they could.”

For the time being, though, Catley is focused on the NWSL. The back-and-forth W-League-to-NWSL schedule, these days, isn’t something just Australians take on; lots of NWSL players both from the U.S. and elsewhere are making the same trip to stay sharp over the winter. The Reign have a particularly large contingent who play in both leagues, five of whom, including Catley, played for Melbourne City this winter. That overlap helped ease Catley’s transition from Orlando at the beginning of the season. “Obviously, Jess [Fishlock] and Lu [Lauren Barnes] and Bev [Beverly Yanez], I’ve played with for years, so I know their quality and what they bring to the team.”

And of course, in goal, there’s Williams, the longtime Matildas keeper. “I think we know each other pretty much like the back of our hands,” says Williams. “We both expect the best out of each other, and we’ve seen good times and struggle too, so it’s been really nice to finally get some cohesion, getting to play with her on a couple teams now.”

That cohesion, which Australian players gain in playing with and against each other year-round, has helped turn the Matildas into a world power. “As a team, we’ve come so far, and we’re getting better every single day,” Catley says. “Players are coming with more experience. … I’m excited for us to head over [to France] and hopefully shake things up.”

Watch: 3 Moments

Marta, Imani Dorsey, Estelle Johnson

Orlando Pride forward Marta in action vs. Sky Blue FC in Week 12. (Photo credit: Jeremy Reper/isiphotos.com)

Three moments from Week 11/12 in the NWSL:

  1. Orlando Pride forward Marta showing off her skills
  2. Washington Spirit defender Estelle Johnson‘s game-saving clearance
  3. Sky Blue FC forward Imani Dorsey‘s interception to set up a goal

Watch 3 Moments from Week 11/12 below, and catch all past weeks on the YouTube playlist.

 

 

 

Goal of the Week: Brittany Ratcliffe

The Utah Royals FC forward has scored two goals this season

Brittany Ratcliffe's goal was the game-winner in Utah's upset of North Carolina. (Photo credit: Roscoe Myrick/Utah Royals FC)

Utah Royals FC forward Brittany Ratcliffe‘s game-winning goal in the 94th minute to lift Utah over the then-undefeated North Carolina Courage was voted Week 11/12 Goal of the Week.

Watch the Week 11/12 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: Aubrey Bledsoe

The Spirit goalkeeper made 13 saves in Week 11/12

Aubrey Bledsoe leads the league in saves with 63. (Photo credit: Howard C. Smith/isiphotos.com)

Aubrey Bledsoe has been voted Player of the Week for Week 11/12 of the 2018 season by the NWSL Media Association.

The Spirit picked up two points in Week 11/12 with back-to-back shutout performances from Bledsoe. The Spirit goalkeeper made seven saves against Sky Blue FC on June 8 and then made six saves against Seattle Reign FC on June 16. Over the course of the two games, Bledsoe made 13 saves on 37 shots. Bledsoe leads the league with 63 saves this season and has totaled four shutouts.

This is the first time Bledsoe has been voted as Player of the Week.

Bledsoe has started in every game she has played for the Spirit this season and earned Save of the Week nods in Week 4 and Week 5.

Bledsoe’s Week 11/12 performance was highlighted by her penalty save against Seattle Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe in the 52nd minute. Bledsoe guessed right and made a diving save to stop Rapinoe and the Reign from getting on the board. Bledsoe came up big again in the 88th minute against Seattle, making a diving save on a Rapinoe header. Reign defender Steph Catley played a dangerous ball into the box to Rapinoe, but Bledsoe made a huge stop for her side to keep it scoreless.

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.

Morgan Brian signs contract with Red Stars

Brian has three assists in her NWSL career

Morgan Brian appeared in two matches for the Chicago Red Stars last season. (Photo credit: Amy Kontras/isiphotos.com)

Morgan Brian has signed a contract with the Chicago Red Stars, the club announced Tuesday. The Red Stars said her contract with the team is for the remainder of the 2018 NWSL season.

Brian spent the first part of 2018 with Olympique Lyonnais in France, appearing in four games and scoring one goal.

The Red Stars acquired Brian in a trade with the Houston Dash last August and she appeared in two games for Chicago before departing for Lyon this offseason. She was drafted No. 1 overall by the Dash in 2015 and has three assists in 35 career NWSL appearances.

Brian has battled injuries in 2017 and 2018, but recently returned to the U.S. women’s national team and played 45 minutes in their 2-1 win over China PR on June 12.

 

Save of the Week: Britt Eckerstrom

The Thorns goalkeeper made six saves vs. the Red Stars in Week 12

Britt Eckerstrom has made 33 saves this season. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom‘s one-handed diving save against Chicago Red Stars forward Sam Kerr in the 86th minute was voted Week 11/12’s 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.

Trade alert: Press, Johnson to Utah; Huerta, Comeau to Houston; Elby to Chicago

Press is headed to Utah Royals FC

(L-R): Taylor Comeau, Sofia Huerta, Christen Press, Sam Johnson and Brooke Elby (Photo credit: isiphotos.com)

The Houston Dash, Chicago Red Stars and Utah Royals FC announced a pair of trades on Monday night that will, among other things, see Christen Press return to the NWSL.

The details:

First, the Houston Dash traded the rights to Press to the Red Stars and a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft in exchange for forward Sofia Huerta and midfielder Taylor Comeau.

Then, the Red Stars traded defender Sam Johnson and the rights to Press to Utah Royals FC in exchange for defender Brooke Elby, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft and an additional first-round pick in the same draft (acquired via the Orlando Pride in the trade for Sydney Leroux, a pick that originated with Seattle Reign FC). Also going to the Red Stars from Utah are three conditional picks: a first-round and a second-round pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft and a first-round pick in 2021.

Utah’s acquisition of Press is the second major trade involving Press in 2018. The Dash acquired the rights to Press from the Red Stars in a January three-team trade, but she did not report to preseason camp for Houston. In March, Press signed with Göteborg FC in Sweden and has spent the last three months there. Most recently, Press joined the U.S. women’s national team for their two friendlies vs. China PR last week, including one at her new home field of Rio Tinto Stadium. Press has 35 career NWSL regular season goals, coming in 60 games and all with the Red Stars. Her total is fourth all-time in NWSL history.

Utah Royals FC said that Press could be available next week for Wednesday, June 27’s game at home vs. Seattle Reign FC. Utah Royals FC’s next game is on the road vs. the Red Stars at Toyota Park, this Saturday, but it appears that Press will not be available for that game. Johnson, however, is more likely to see action vs. her former team as the club said she would arrive in Utah this week.

Huerta was named April Player of the Month earlier this season for the Red Stars. She had played for the Red Stars for the past three seasons after being drafted with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2015 NWSL College Draft. She has 22 career goals in 74 games.

Johnson has been a member of the Red Stars since making the team through open tryouts in 2014 and has appeared in 77 games. Comeau made the Red Stars after preseason camp in 2016. She has two goals and two assists in 46 career appearances.

Elby was acquired by Utah Royals FC in the January dispersal draft after the Boston Breakers ceased operations. She appeared in seven games for Utah this season and 26 games in the two previous seasons with the Breakers.

Huerta, Johnson and Comeau all missed Chicago’s game this past weekend and the Red Stars announced prior to the game vs. the Thorns that they were unavailable for the match due to a pending trade. Elby was not available for selection for Utah vs. the Courage.

The Dash also announced on Monday that they had waived Claire Falknor and defender Alli Murphy.

Week 11/12 Power Rankings: Utah Royals FC move to No. 2 after ending the Courage’s unbeaten streak

NWSL Power Rankings presented by Cutter

Utah Royals FC upset the North Carolina Courage 1-0 on Saturday night. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

See where each team falls in the Week 11/12 edition of the Power Rankings.

1

NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE
9-1-3, 30 pts

Change:
Last week: 1

Despite suffering their first loss this season on Saturday night, the Courage continue to hold onto the top spot in the Power Rankings this week. The Courage are still in first place in the league standings with 30 points and 11 points ahead of the league’s second place team, Seattle Reign FC. The Courage will look to bounce back in Week 13 when they hit the road to face the Reign on Saturday, June 23.


2

UTAH ROYALS FC
4-2-5, 17 pts

Change: ▲ 2
Last week: 4

Utah Royals FC moved up two spots after defeating the then-undefeated North Carolina Courage 1-0 in Week 12 action. Forward Brittany Ratcliffe scored the game-winner for Utah in the 94th minute. Utah sit in fourth place in the league standings with a 4-2-5 overall record and 17 points. Utah has only recorded one loss in their last eight games and will prepare to face the Chicago Red Stars in Week 13 play.


3

ORLANDO PRIDE
5-3-4, 19 pts

Change:
Last week: 3

The Pride hang onto the third place spot in the Power Rankings this week after securing a 3-2 win over Sky Blue FC in Week 12. With the victory on Saturday night, the Pride improve to 5-3-4 overall and sit in third place in the league standings, with 19 points. Sydney Leroux scored a brace and Rachel Hill scored in the 83rd minute to lift the Pride over Sky Blue. The Pride have lost just once in their last nine games. The Pride will next visit the Washington Spirit on Saturday, June 23.


4

SEATTLE REIGN FC
5-2-4, 19 pts

Change: ▼ 2
Last week: 2

Seattle Reign FC drop back to fourth place in the Power Rankings after settling for a scoreless draw in Week 12. The Reign played to a 0-0 result against the Washington Spirit and remain in second place in the league standings with a 5-2-4 overall record. The Reign are tied with the Pride in points (19) and will have a big task this weekend when they host the Courage on Saturday night.


5

PORTLAND THORNS FC
4-4-4, 16 pts

Change:
Last week: 5

The Thorns played to a 1-1 result against the Chicago Red Stars in Week 12 and are in fifth place in the league standings, with a 4-4-4 overall record. The Thorns got on the board on Saturday night thanks to a 48th minute goal from Lindsey Horan. This is Horan’s fifth goal of the season. The Thorns return to action on Friday night when they hit the road to face the Houston Dash.


6

HOUSTON DASH
3-4-5, 14 pts

Change:
Last week: 6

The Dash hold onto the sixth place spot in the Power Rankings after a bye in Week 12 play. The Dash are 3-4-5 overall with 14 points, and will return to action on Friday night when they host Portland Thorns FC at BBVA Compass Stadium.


7

CHICAGO RED STARS
3-3-7, 16 pts

Change:
Last week: 7

The Red Stars played to a 1-1 draw vs. Portland Thorns FC this past weekend and just before the game the team announced that Sofia Huerta, Sam Johnson, and Taylor Comeau were all unavailable for the game due to a pending trade. Yuki Nagasato scored the game’s first goal in the 43rd minute after Sam Kerr was fouled in the box. This was Nagasato’s second goal of the year. The Red Stars are currently sixth place in the league standings with a 3-3-7 overall record for 16 points. The Red Stars will face Utah Royals FC in Week 13 action.


8

WASHINGTON SPIRIT
2-7-4, 10 pts

Change:
Last week: 8

The Washington Spirit played two games in Week 11/12 action, both resulting in scoreless draws, after playing to a 0-0 result on June 8 against Sky Blue FC, and then settling for a 0-0 draw against Seattle Reign FC on June 16. The Spirit sit in eighth place in the league standings with a 2-7-4 overall record for 10 points. The Spirit will host the Pride in Week 13.


9

SKY BLUE FC
0-9-2, 2 pts

Change:
Last week: 9

Sky Blue FC battled it out against the Orlando Pride on Saturday night, however, they eventually fell to the Pride 3-2. Savannah McCaskill and Madison Tiernan scored for Sky Blue. With the loss, Sky Blue are winless through their first 11 games, tying the 2013 Seattle Reign FC for the longest winless streak to start the season. Sky Blue are 0-9-2 with the loss, and will look for their first win of the year when they face Portland Thorns FC for a midweek game on Wednesday, June 27.

Week 12 Rewind

Utah Royals FC upset the North Carolina Courage in the dying moments

Utah Royals FC beat the North Carolina Courage 1-0 in Week 12. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

A look back at a Week 12 that won’t be forgotten any time soon:

 

June 16: North Carolina Courage 0 | Utah Royals FC 1

Utah Royals FC stunned the previously unbeaten North Carolina Courage in the 94th minute. Brittany Ratcliffe‘s second goal of the season sent the Courage to their first loss of the season. North Carolina had started off the season going 12 games without a loss, tied for the second longest unbeaten streak in NWSL history. Utah Royals FC coach Laura Harvey’s side preserved the NWSL record of 16 games unbeaten set by Harvey and the 2014 Seattle Reign. Recap


June 16: Washington Spirit 0 | Seattle Reign FC 0

Washington Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe made six saves, including a penalty kick stop on Seattle Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe as the two teams played to a 0-0 draw at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday night. Recap

 


June 16: Orlando Pride 3 | Sky Blue FC 2

Sydney Leroux bagged a brace and Rachel Hill scored the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute as the Orlando Pride beat Sky Blue FC 3-2. Savannah McCaskill and Madison Tiernan scored for Sky Blue FC. The loss ties Sky Blue FC with the 2013 Seattle Reign for longest winless streak to start a season at 11 games. Recap

 


June 16: Chicago Red Stars 1 | Portland Thorns FC 1

Yuki Nagasato scored for the Red Stars and and Lindsey Horan scored for Portland Thorns FC as the two teams played to a 1-1 draw at Toyota Park in Week 12. Thorns goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom and Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher each made big saves late to preserve the draw. Recap

 

 

Imani Dorsey signs full contract with Sky Blue FC

Dorsey was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft

Sky Blue FC forward Imani Dorsey made her NWSL debut on June 8. (Photo credit: Howard C. Smith/isiphotos.com)

Sky Blue FC has signed forward Imani Dorsey to a full professional contract, the club announced Friday. Dorsey joined the team last week as a National Team Replacement Player, playing 71 minutes in her first professional start on June 8.

Sky Blue FC has waived defender Kayla Mills to make room on the roster for Dorsey.

“Imani had a very good performance for us this past Friday, which was obviously the first start of her professional career. She plays with a lot of explosiveness, and her movement off the ball provides a great addition to our attack,” Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy said in a statement release by the club. “We also want to take the time today to thank Kayla for all of her contributions to Sky Blue FC, and we want to wish her nothing but success in the future.”

Dorsey was selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft out of Duke. Mills was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. She appeared in 16 games for Sky Blue FC last season, but did not appear in a match this season.

 

ICC schedule announced

The Courage will face Lyon, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain

The North Carorlina Courage are 9-0-3 through the first 12 games of the 2018 season. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

The schedule for the International Champions Cup Women’s Tournament, which will feature the North Carolina Courage, is set. The full schedule for the four-team tournament was announced on Thursday.

All games will take place at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The Courage will be joined in the tournament by Olympique Lyonnais, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. The first games of the tournament will take place on July 26. Then on Saturday July 29, the two losing teams will meet in the third place game, followed by the two winners in the final. The final will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Lyon are the reigning champions of Europe, after a 4-1 win over Wolfsburg in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final.


ICC Schedule

Thursday, July 26

North Carolina Courage vs. Paris Saint-Germain (6:15 p.m. ET)

Olympique Lyonnais vs. Manchester City (9 p.m. ET)

Sunday, July 29

Third place game (6:15 p.m. ET)

Final (9 p.m. ET on ESPN2)

 


 

NWSL players participate in Playing for Pride

25 NWSL players have announced that they are Playing for Pride

(Photo credit: Jeremy Reper/isiphotos.com)

Pride Month is fully underway and, across the league, teams and players have already begun celebrating and planning for special events. One way players have extended their involvement in Pride Month is participating in Playing for Pride.

Playing for Pride raises money for Athlete Ally, an organization that believes “Everyone should have equal access, opportunity, and experience in sports — regardless of your sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” So far, 25 NWSL players have announced their participation and each team in the league has at least one player representing the cause.

Several players have announced how their donation process will work on their social media channels, and all donations are personally curated. Donations can range from $5 per goal to Utah Royals FC defender Becky Sauerbrunn‘s commitment to $100 per goal!

Last week, Sky Blue FC rookie forward Imani Dorsey was signed as a national team replacement player and not long after tweeted that she would be Playing for Pride. The Duke alum earned her first NWSL start and appearance in Sky Blue’s Week 11 game against the Washington Spirit.

“I’m planning to do $5 per game I play, $4 for an assist and $3 for a goal,” Dorsey told NWSL Media on Thursday.

“I’m honored and I’m so excited to be a part of a league where this is celebrated. It is such a fun month to have and for players to be able to step up and have the league support them in this decision, I find it very empowering and passionate.”

Rookies, veterans—you name it. Here is the full list of NWSL players Playing for Pride.

Sam Mewis, North Carolina Courage

Lynn Williams, North Carolina Courage

McCall Zerboni, North Carolina Courage

Jess McDonald, North Carolina Courage

Yael Averbuch, Seattle Reign FC

Morgan Andrews, Seattle Reign FC

Beverly Yanez, Seattle Reign FC

Christen Westphal, Seattle Reign FC

Stephanie McCaffrey, Chicago Red Stars

Amber Brooks, Houston Dash

Meghan Klingenberg, Portland Thorns FC

Katie Stengel, Utah Royals FC

Becky Sauerbrunn, Utah Royals FC

Becca Moros, Utah Royals FC

Diana Matheson, Utah Royals FC

EJ Proctor, Utah Royals FC

Abby Smith, Utah Royals FC

Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir, Utah Royals FC

Mandy Laddish, Utah Royals FC

Estelle Johnson, Washington Spirit

Rebecca Quinn, Washington Spirit

Alanna Kennedy, Orlando Pride

Toni Pressley, Orlando Pride

Kailen Sheridan, Sky Blue FC

Imani Dorsey, Sky Blue FC

After an up and down NWSL career, Estelle Johnson is still grinding (and slide tackling)

Johnson's professional career began in 2010 with the Philadelphia Independence of WPS

Washington Spirit Estelle Johnson has started 10 games this season. (Photo credit: Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com)

“I’m trying to uphold kind of what Washington stands for, which is hard work and busting our butts every game,” says Estelle Johnson when we talk over the phone a few days after the Spirit’s 0-0 draw with Sky Blue. That mentality was on full display in stoppage time, when Johnson sprinted after Shea Groom as the forward drove toward goal on a transition play, making a sliding block in the nick of time to hold Sky Blue scoreless.

For the most part, this season hasn’t been kind to Washington, who are sitting in eighth place with nine points. But whether you’re a veteran like Johnson or a league newcomer like the numerous youngsters on this Spirit team, weathering difficulty is part of the game. It’s a challenge that Johnson, the veteran centerback with the signature slide tackle, is attacking with grace and positivity.

“We’ve been really focused on keeping everything positive and going out there and giving our best effort every week,” she says.

As a player, she’s no stranger to adversity. Between WPS and the NWSL, she’s battled her way to four championship finals, and lost four times, in four very different games. But at this level, the hunger to compete is fierce, and coming that close only intensifies it. It’s that competitive drive that keeps Johnson coming back when many people would have quit — even when, for a year in 2014, she did quit, heading for what she thought was retirement from the sport.

“In my offseasons previous to that, I had been taking classes and coaching at a school called Avila University,” she explains. “I was on my last trimester and there was going to be a coaching switch and I didn’t really know where I would have stood had I not finished my master’s during that season.”

She finished her degree, got a desk job, and tried to embark on a new phase in life — but soccer pulled her back in. “Every single weekend, I was like, ‘No, I can’t go out tonight, I’ve got a game to watch.’ Then I’m like, ‘Wait, why am I not playing in these games?'”

“I was getting a lot of FOMO,” she remembers. When Washington came calling after the 2014 season — she’d played for the Western New York Flash in 2013 — she found the opportunity impossible to resist.

Nonetheless, transitioning back into soccer was “probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” she says. During her season away from the sport, “I was so focused on school, and I was coaching, and I was working, so I didn’t have time to work out. There were not enough hours.”

“I remember having conversations with Mark Parsons, who was the coach when I came to Washington, and I was like, ‘Listen, man, I haven’t worked out, so I don’t really think that I can do this.'” Parsons was adamant the coaching staff would work her back into the fold. “Still to this day, I put, like, half of my career on him. He was like, ‘I want you to come back and play. We’ll get you fit, I promise you, we’ll work you in.’ And he was right.”

Johnson was a mainstay in the back line that year on a Spirit team that made the playoffs for the second year in a row, only to lose in the semifinals. The following year, Jim Gabarra replaced Parsons, and brought in Canadian centerback Shelina Zadorsky, sending Johnson to the bench for the first nine games of the season. It was only when Zadorsky left for the Rio Olympics that Johnson first saw minutes. She got 11 starts that season, roughly splitting that starting centerback spot with Zadorsky. Ultimately, it was Zadorsky who got the start in the 2016 championship against Western New York — which the Spirit lost in penalties.

After all that, Johnson’s competitive spark remains undimmed. “I want to win an NWSL championship,” she says.

If her drive to win hasn’t changed since joining the Spirit, just about everything else has. Besides the coaching change after 2015, the roster underwent a significant overhaul after the 2016 season; this offseason, Gabarra brought in a pile of young talent in Andi Sullivan, Rose Lavelle, Rebecca Quinn and Ashley Hatch. Those players join Mallory Pugh, the 20-year-old USWNT star, who was added to the roster in 2017.

“It’s been crazy the amount of changes that have happened in the last couple years,” she says. “I think that the few of us who have been around for three, four, I think Tori [Huster] has been here for five years, is just to try and lead everybody in the same direction, regardless of the cast.”

The league itself, meanwhile, has only gotten more competitive, something Johnson has a veteran’s perspective on. “I would say this year is pretty comparable to the last couple years I played in WPS,” she remembers. “Every team was a star-studded, stacked team, and every single game was a battle. That’s exactly how it feels this year.”

Stepping up to that challenge, Johnson has put together some highlight-reel defensive performances this season. When the Spirit nabbed a road draw against star-studded Portland back in April, Johnson rendered the Thorns forwards a non-factor with her famous slide tackles:

That extra competition also only adds to the challenge of integrating so many young players. “I know it’s been hard on the rookies this season, especially,” Johnson says. “The cohesion of the group is really important to us, just making sure everybody feels comfortable and knowing that sometimes you need to instill a little confidence in some of the younger players.”

“I never want to be that player who makes you feel worse than you already do about a missed shot or a missed pass or whatever. I try to adopt the attitude of, it’s done and over with, and on to the next thing.”

What that next thing is doesn’t ever really change. Train, grind, play, repeat, all with a singular end goal: win. If, right now, Johnson has to manage things “game by game,” as she says, that’s all part of the process. “I still have goals to reach,” she says. “I’m by no means giving up on those dreams just yet.”

Rapinoe, Heath score as U.S. beats China PR 2-1

Courage defender Merritt Mathias earned her first cap

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath scored in her first game for the USWNT in 2018. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Seattle Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe scored her 37th international goal as the U.S. women’s national team topped China PR 2-1 on Tuesday night in Cleveland, Ohio.

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath scored the game-winner in the 75th minute.

Rapinoe’s goal came in the 35th minute, a header goal on a well-placed cross by Christen Press.

The United States made five changes from last week’s starting lineup. Sam Mewis, Sofia Huerta, Press, Morgan Brian and Ashlyn Harris all slotted into the starting lineup for the second meeting with China in the last five days.

The fresh legs helped the United States find more room and space in the midfield in the first half and enter halftime with a 1-0 lead.

Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle subbed in in the 65th minute, her first international minutes since September 19, 2017 in a win over New Zealand, following her hamstring strain suffered last June. Heath also entered the match at the same time for her first minutes USWNT since that same game.

In the second half, China created a few more chances and eventually scored a goal of their own.

China tied it in the 72nd minute on a defensive misplay by the United States. Defenders Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC) and Tierna Davidson both went up to head the ball near midfield, leaving the U.S. backline out of position. China’s Li Ying scored following a 2 vs. 1 with Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage).

Less than two minutes later, Harris made a diving save on a direct free kick effort from about 23 yards out that would’ve given China the lead. The Pride goalkeeper was not called on much in the match, but came up big when needed most. The game was Harris’ first start of 2018 and she played all 90 minutes in the match.

A minute after Harris’ save, Heath put the United States up for good with a chip after a give-and-go with Press in the box.

It’s Heath’s first goal since November 2016 vs. Romania and her 19th career goal. Heath almost scored another in the 77th minute, but pulled her shot just wide.

North Carolina Courage defender Merritt Mathias entered in the 77th minute for her first international cap, replacing Huerta at the right back position.

The win came in the second of two friendlies vs. China PR. Last week, the United States won 1-0 in Sandy, Utah.

The NWSL returns to action with four games on Saturday evening. The United States women’s national team will next be in action at the 2018 Tournament of Nations when they take on Australia, Brazil and Japan later this summer.

United Bid selected to host 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup

The NWSL reacts to the news

FIFA president Gianni Infantino (r) poses with the United 2026 bid (Canada, Mexico, US) officials: Left-Right Sunil Gulati president of the United States Soccer Federation, CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani, president of the Mexican Football Association Decio de Maria Serrano, president of the United States Football Association Carlos Cordeiro and Steve Reed president of the Canadian Soccer Association. (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Early Wednesday morning, the United Bid of Canada, Mexico, and the United States was selected to host the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup by the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow. It’s the first time that FIFA’s Member Associations voted on the host for the Men’s World Cup. The United Bid won 134-65.

It’ll be the first time that three countries host and the first men’s tournament in North America since it was held in the United State in 1994.

“Hosting a FIFA World Cup™ is an extraordinary honor and privilege,” Steven Reed, President of Canada Soccer and Co-Chair of the United Bid said in a news release after the announcement. “Canada, Mexico, and the United States are ready to welcome the world to North America and serve as stewards of the largest FIFA World Cup™ in history. Our vision is of a world of opportunity for our Candidate Host Cities and for the global football community.”

“We are grateful for the chance to bring to life FIFA’s new vision for the future of football,” Decio de Maria, President of Mexico Football Federation and Co-Chair of the United Bid said in the release. “Together-in partnership with our Candidate Host Cities, the Member Associations, and FIFA-we will use this platform to unite the world around football and help create a new and sustainable blueprint for the future of FIFA World Cups™.”

“Hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup™ is a rare and important moment to demonstrate that we are all truly united through sport,” Carlos Cordeiro, President of U.S. Soccer and Co-Chair of the United Bid in the release. “We are humbled by the trust our colleagues in the FIFA family have put in our bid; strengthened by the unity between our three countries and the CONCACAF region; and excited by the opportunity we have to put football on a new and sustainable path for generations to come.”

NWSL officials and players reacted to the news.

“Looking forward to celebrating with all fans as we unite for the world’s game,” NWSL managing director Amanda Duffy said.

NWSL players who represent all three countries also celebrated the announcement.

Canada’s Janine Beckie:

Mexico’s Bianca Henninger:

The United States’ Alex Morgan:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Reign FC acquire Adriana Leon

Sky Blue will get the Reign’s natural fourth round-pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft

Adriana Leon has played in two games for Sky Blue FC this season. (Photo credit: Howard C. Smith/isiphotos.com)

Seattle Reign FC has acquired forward Adriana Leon from Sky Blue FC for the Reign’s natural fourth-round pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft, the clubs announced on Tuesday.

Leon appeared in two matches for Sky Blue FC this season, recording 33 minutes. She was selected by Sky Blue FC in the 2018 dispersal draft after spending the 2017 season with the Boston Breakers, where she recorded six goals and six assists.

“I’m excited to join Seattle Reign FC,” Leon said in the Reign’s press release. “The group is very talented. I’m looking forward to bringing what I can to the group and improving the team.”

The forward is currently on international duty with Canada. Leon entered Canada’s match vs. Germany on June 10 in the 89th minute as a substitute for fellow NWSL player, Utah Royals FC midfielder Desiree Scott.

Sky Blue FC and Seattle Reign FC will return to action this Saturday, June 16. Sky Blue will visit the Orlando Pride and the Reign will face the Washington Spirit.

Mathias in USWNT camp, reunited with pal Rapinoe

Mathias is in her first season with the North Carolina Courage

Merritt Mathias (left) and Megan Rapinoe at USWNT practice last week in Utah. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Sandy, Utah — Merritt Mathias and Megan Rapinoe hadn’t seen each other all season. After spending the last three years together on Seattle Reign FC, the two friends were split up this season when Mathias was traded to the North Carolina Courage on January 31.

They thought they would see each other again soon, when North Carolina hosted Seattle on April 18, at least. But, Rapinoe got hurt on April 15 and did not travel to North Carolina.

Last week in Utah, the pair were finally reunited at U.S. women’s national team training camp.

Pines is like my best friend. I certainly have missed her in my life moving to North Carolina. She’s one of my best friends and I haven’t been able to see her in a long time,” Mathias said last week in Utah. “It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to connect. I frickin’ love her. It’s been great to have her back by my side. If you ever get to meet her, she will just bring so much joy to your life. She’s so funny. She just has such a good head on her shoulders.”

It’s Mathias’ second career call up, after first being called in in October of 2016, and she is still waiting for her first cap. She was available on Thursday night for the USWNT’s 1-0 win over China PR, but did not play. Rapinoe did, making her 136th appearance and earning an assist in the win.

“We had a good relationship in Seattle and always have so much fun,” Rapinoe said after Thursday’s game. “We love to shoot the s— together and have good banter going on. I haven’t see her in a long time. Obviously, it was kind of a surprise close to the start of the season that she got traded. And I missed the trip to North Carolina, so it’s been awhile since I’ve seen her. It’s nice to be able to get back with her.”

Mathias said it’s been good to have her former teammate alongside her while training for the United States.

“It’s nice to have someone here and to be back in this environment again … and be kind of a rock and be like, ‘I have your back.’ It’s really nice to be around her again,” Mathias said.

For Mathias, the call in to training camp comes after telling NWSL Media last month that a goal for her this season is to be great at one position, instead of really good at multiple positions. Last year with Seattle, Mathias bounced between offense and defense, but this year it’s been all right back. Before missing North Carolina’s last game due to the call up, she had played all but 19 minutes this season, all at right back.

“I think I have been staying pretty consistent and I think my understanding for this position is only improving,” Mathias said. “An overall assessment, I would say that I’m getting there. I’m not there yet, which is great, but I’m getting there and getting to the point that I feel great and comfortable in this position. There’s always room to get better, no matter if you ever reach that or not. There’s always room for growth.”

Mathias said she’s been training at the same right back position with the U.S. in this camp, but that it’s a whole new experience.

“You’re asked to do the same thing but it’s a different viewpoint than what I’m used to with the Courage. It’s a completely different system. Just getting used to what options you have, going out of back. Jill wants me to do what I do well and to show that, but also I have to be able to read the game and see my options and play out from there. Just getting comfortable with that and getting comfortable with the players that are around me. That’s a huge thing,” Mathias said.

Schedule & Results: NWSL on international duty in June

NWSL players on international duty in June

Utah Royals FC and Iceland midfielder Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir (left) and Washington Spirit and Nigeria forward Francisca Ordega (Photo credit: isiphotos.com)

An overview of how to keep up with and follow the players of the NWSL taking part in international games during the FIFA break. The majority of countries are participating in qualifiers for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Canada and the United States, who will have their qualifying tournament in October, are playing key friendlies.

This page will be updated with results and highlights as they become available. Live scores are available on FIFA.com.

The full slate of NWSL games resumes June 16. (Sky Blue FC vs. Washington Spirit will take place on June 8, during the break). Countries are listed in alphabetical order.

 

Canada

Friendly:

  • June 10: Canada 2 | Germany 3 — Christine Sinclair scored international goal No. 173, but Canada fell 3-2 to Germany. Report

NWSL players on the roster:

Lindsay Agnew (Houston Dash), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Shelina Zadorsky (Orlando Pride), Rebecca Quinn (Washington Spirit), Desiree Scott (Utah Royals FC), Diana Matheson (Utah Royals FC), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns FC), Janine Beckie (Sky Blue FC), Adriana Leon (Sky Blue FC) and Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash)


Chile

Friendly

  • June 9: Chile 4 | Costa Rica 0 — Yanara Aedo scored the game’s final goal in Chile’s 4-0 win over Costa Rica. Report
  • June 11: Chile vs. Costa Rica

NWSL players on the roster:

Yanara Aedo (Washington Spirit)


Denmark

UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifier:

  • June 8: Ukraine 1 | Denmark 5  Report
  • June 12: Denmark 5 | Hungary 1 — Reign defender Theresa Nielsen scored and former Thorns forward Nadia Nadim added a brace in Denmark’s 5-1 win over Hungary. Report

NWSL players on the roster:

Theresa Nielsen (Seattle Reign FC)


England

UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifier:

  • June 8: Russia 1 | England 3 — Rachel Daly went the full 90 in England’s 3-1 win over Russia. Report 

NWSL players on the roster:

Rachel Daly (Houston Dash) and Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign FC)


Iceland

UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifier:

  • June 11: Iceland 2 | Slovenia 0  Report

NWSL players on the roster:

Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir (Utah Royals FC)

 


Ireland

UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers:

  • June 8: Ireland 0 | Norway 2 Report
  • June 12: Norway 1 | Ireland 0 — With the loss, Ireland has failed to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Report

NWSL players on the roster:

Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage)


Japan

Friendly:

  • June 9: New Zealand 1 | Japan 3

NWSL players on the roster:

Nahomi Kawasumi and Rumi Utsugi (Seattle Reign FC)


New Zealand

Friendly:

  • June 9: New Zealand 1 | Japan 3

NWSL players on the roster:

Katie Bowen (Utah Royals FC), Rebekah Stott (Sky Blue FC) and Rosie White (Chicago Red Stars)


Nigeria

Second round of preliminary qualification for 2018 CAF African Women’s Cup of Nations in November, CAF’s qualifying tournament for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. With two wins over Gambia, Nigeria has qualified for the tournament in Ghana in November.

  • June 6: Gambia 0 | Nigeria 1
  • June 11: Nigeria 6 | Gambia 0

NWSL players on the roster:

Francisca Ordega (Washington Spirit)


Norway

UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers:

  • June 8: Ireland 0 | Norway 2  Report
  • June 12: Norway 1 | Ireland 0Report

NWSL players on the roster:

Elise Thorsnes (Utah Royals FC)


Scotland

UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers:

  • June 7: Scotland 2 | Belarus 1  Report
  • June 12: Poland 2 | Scotland 3 — Scotland recovered from down 2-0 with three goals in the game’s final 12 minutes to pull out the dramatic win. Former Seattle Reign FC midfielder Kim Little started the comeback with a goal in the 78th minute. Utah Royals FC defender Rachel Corsie earned her 100 cap in the win. Report

NWSL players on the roster:

Rachel Corsie (Utah Royals FC)


Switzerland

UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers:

NWSL players on the roster:

Ana-Maria Crnogorčević (Portland Thorns FC)


United States

Friendlies:

  • June 7: USA 1 | China PR 0 — Alex Morgan scored and Savannah McCaskill and McCall Zerboni earned their first starts as the United States beat China PR 1-0. Report
  • June 12 at 7 p.m. ET: USA vs. China PR

NWSL players on the roster:

Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Abby Smith (Utah Royals FC); Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars), Merritt Mathias (North Carolina Courage), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC); Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC), McCall Zerboni (North Carolina Courage); Crystal Dunn (NC Courage), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Savannah McCaskill (Sky Blue FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC), Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals FC)


Wales

UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifier:

  • June 7: Wales 1 | Bosnia and Herzegovina 0 Report
  • June 12: Wales 3 | Russia 0 Report

NWSL players on the roster:

Jess Fishlock (Seattle Reign FC)

 

USWNT and Chile to meet for a pair of friendlies this summer

USWNT and Chile to play for the first time in women's soccer history

The U.S. Women’s National Team will face Chile for the first time in history for a pair of friendlies this summer, U.S. Soccer announced on Monday.

The first of the games will be played on Friday, Aug. 31 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. at 8 p.m. PT (ESPN2) and the second will be on Tuesday, Sept. 4 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif. at 7 p.m. PT (ESPN2 and UDN). These matches will fall just after the 2018 Tournament of Nations and will be the USWNT’s final test before the CONCACAF Women’s Championship on Oct. 4-17.

Chile qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup after finishing second to Brazil in the Final Stage of the 2018 Copa América Femenina in April. This is the first FIFA Women’s World Cup berth for Chile. The USWNT features several NWSL players, while Chile is also represented in the league by Washington Spirit forward Yanara Aedo.

The USWNT are currently in the swing of another set of friendlies and will face China PR for a second game on Tuesday, June 12. The USWNT defeated China PR 1-0 in the first match, thanks to a goal from Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan

Sinclair scores No. 173 as Canada falls 3-2 to Germany

Canada played in front of a home crowd of 22,826 on Sunday

Christine Sinclair during a 2017 Canada game. (Photo credit: Meg Linehan/NWSL Media)

Portland Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair scored her 173rd international goal on Sunday afternoon, but Canada fell 3-2 to Germany in front of 22,826 home fans at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario. Match report

The goal for Sinclair means that she is now just 11 behind behind former U.S. women’s national team forward Abby Wambach’s all-time record of 184.

Sinclair’s goal came in the 59th minute. Germany failed to clear an initial free kick attempt, and Canada worked the ball back into the penalty area. Sky Blue FC forward Janine Beckie‘s header bounced over the backline and Sinclair nodded it into the back of the net.

 

In addition to Sinclair and Beckie, Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Shelina Zadorsky (Orlando Pride), Rebecca Quinn (Washington Spirit), Desiree Scott (Utah Royals FC), Diana Matheson (Utah Royals FC), Adriana Leon (Sky Blue FC) and Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash) all appeared in the game.

Germany took the lead in just the first minute on a goal by Svenja Huth before Sinclair tied it in the second half. Jessie Fleming put Canada in the lead in the 69th minute, but Sara Däbritz evened the score a minute later. Turid Knaak scored the game-winner for Germany in the 84th minute.

A-Rod returns to USWNT on her home field in Utah

Rodriguez entered in the 76th minute

Sandy, Utah — Amy Rodriguez is back with the U.S. women’s national team.

The Utah Royals FC forward entered in the game in the 76th minute and played the final 14 minutes of the USWNT’s 1-0 win over China PR at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday night. It was her first appearance since April 2017, shortly before she tore her ACL.

“It was everything I remembered, but meant so much more. I think because of the uphill battle I faced the last year with the injury. It’s never easy to come back. You never know what kind of player you’re going to return to be, or if you’re ever going to be as good as you once were. So, I put a lot of tears, lot of sweat in this. Just happy to be back on the field tonight,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez missed nearly all of 2017 with the knee injury after missing all of 2016 due to the birth of her son.

“It’s remarkable just in terms of how well she’s come back. I know the work she’s put in and I know being a parent to do that with two young boys is just exceptional. I think in terms of just A-Rod and her commitment, her mindset is fantastic,” United States head coach Jill Ellis said. “Still has the same qualities in terms of her ability to turn players and willingness to run at players. Just a great human being and great for team chemistry as well.”

Rodriguez took the field in her familiar No. 8 jersey, with Red Stars midfielder Julie Ertz shifting to wear the No. 2. She also stepped back in action for the United States in a familiar spot, the same field where she plays her NWSL games with Utah, and entered to loud cheers in the second half.

“It was kind of a unique experience. Obviously, I play at this field every weekend, almost. It felt like home, a little bit, and that’s always nice to play in front of your home crowd. Definitely a lot of fans cheering my name tonight. That felt really good. Just wanted to put on a good show for the fans and hopefully they all had a good time,” Rodriguez said.

“Absolutely buzzing,” Utah Royals FC coach Laura Harvey posted on Twitter of Rodriguez’s return.

Rodriguez made her 2018 NWSL debut on April 14 at Rio Tinto Stadium and has a goal and an assist in seven appearances so far this season. She’s worked back slowly into the team and finally played the full 90 minutes on May 25 before being called in and having the United States team join her in Utah.

“I just think it’s phenomenal what she’s been able to withstand and endure and come back from,” Seattle Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe said after the game. “She still has that same spark in her step. Still as quick as ever.”

Zerboni earns first start in USWNT’s 1-0 win over China PR

Zerboni played all 90 minutes in her second cap

North Carolina Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni earned her first start in her second cap for the U.S. women's national team on Thursday night. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Sandy, Utah — As the national anthem finished on Thursday night at Rio Tinto Stadium, McCall Zerboni tapped the USA crest on her warm-up jacket and kissed it, took a few stretches and headed to the sideline for the starting XI photo with her U.S. women’s national team teammates.

With a group of Utah-based family and friends in attendance, as well as family that drove in from California, her first international start was underway. Ninety minutes later, the Courage midfielder was still on the field and named Woman of the Match by U.S. Soccer for the 1-0 win over China PR.

I’m bursting with pride and honor and I think a lot about my teammates — my Courage team, my teammates here. They helped me get here. And then the teammates around me today made me look good. I’m just so thankful to be playing with such amazing players and to be able to be in an environment where I still get to grow and improve every day and showcase my talents,” she said postgame.

The start came in Zerboni’s second cap after earning her first in October 2017. It’s also just her second-ever call into national team training camp — earlier this week she admitted she felt a “flutter” in her heart when she got the call from Ellis last month.

Zerboni started in the midfield alongside Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars) and Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), playing in a higher spot than NWSL fans are used to. In the second half, she dropped back into the more familiar deeper role.

USWNT head coach Jill Ellis said after the match that coming into this training camp she wanted to give Zerboni a “really good, hard look.”

“What I’ve seen tonight, yeah I definitely think McCall is going to be in the hunt and in the mix. It’s a very deep position for us. But I like the way she reads the game, controls the game, great energy. Even new-ish to the team, she’s obviously been in once before, leadership qualities within her,” Ellis said.

“But overall, I think just focusing on her play, I think she can mix it up in terms of short, long range. She gets stuck in, likes to win the ball. I actually liked her when I pushed her down central, more in the 6 role. Helped us get out and has really good vision to be able to open the game up.”

“I think the first half I obviously played in a different role. I was a little higher up the field, a more attacking role,” Zerboni said. “And then in the second half I was kind of sitting in front of the backline, just protecting and swinging balls side to side. I’m able to do both thankfully, so it was nice that we were able to try that and kinda change formations, let some other players come in.”

Also in the second half, Zerboni got to play alongside her fellow Courage midfielder, Sam Mewis.

“I do know her tendencies and her strengths and what she likes to do. It was a nice, calm deep breath for me,” Zerboni said of Mewis entering in the second half. “I’m obviously in a new environment and I’m trying to learn with new players and I’m trying to do the best that I can. So when someone comes on that I’m familiar with it’s good for me.”

Mallory Pugh out 8-10 weeks with knee injury

The forward suffered a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain in her right knee

The Spirit forward has two goals and one assist this season. (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

Washington Spirit forward Mallory Pugh suffered a knee injury at the end of her club’s May 27 game against the Houston Dash, and on Friday the Spirit and the U.S. women’s national team confirmed that Pugh will be out for 8-10 weeks due to a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain in her right knee.

The injury was the reason Pugh was kept off the USWNT roster for their set of friendlies against China PR this month. The statement on Friday said Pugh will return to training towards the latter end of her recovery.

Before the injury Pugh was a key piece in the Spirit’s offense. She scored two goals and chipped in one assist in 10 games played. She also picked up the NWSL’s Player of the Week honor in Week 2 and was named to March and April’s Team of the Month.

“This isn’t the greatest time to get an injury like this, but with the support of medical staffs from U.S. Soccer and the Spirit, as well as from my teammates and the fans, I’ll be back on the field as soon as possible,” Pugh said. “Now, my job is to rehab and I’m going to be really focused on that process.”

 

NWSL community celebrates Pride Month

Look at how clubs, players and fans are celebrating Pride Month

The Red Stars wore rainbow warm-up tops to kick-off Pride Month. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com)

This month is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, and there have already been NWSL-wide celebrations starting as early as May 26 with clubs throwing special game days with events, sporting new Pride gear, and more.

The Chicago Red Stars kicked-off Pride Month a little early on May 26 by wearing rainbow warm-up tops prior to their match vs. the Orlando Pride. The Red Stars encouraged fans ahead of the game to purchase the “Pride Bundle” which included a limited edition Pride Game T-Shirt along with a ticket to the game.

There are plenty of plans across the rest of the league to celebrate Pride Month. Each team also will have at least one player participating in Playing for Pride later this month. Players that are Playing for Pride will be raising money for Athlete Ally, an organization that believes “Everyone should have equal access, opportunity, and experience in sports — regardless of your sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” There are 23 NWSL players announced to be Playing for Pride; here is the list of players.

From the club’s Pride Games to several players getting involved and Playing for Pride, here is a list of the league-wide Pride events!

Chicago Red Stars

  • May 26: Pride Game vs. Orlando Pride at Toyota Park

Sky Blue FC

  • June 2: Pride Game vs. Utah Royals FC at Yurcak Field. Cloud 9, the supporter’s group in New Jersey, featured a special tifo in the supporters section for the first game.

North Carolina Courage 

  • June 14: The Courage will kick-off Pride Week by having their players bartend at London Bridge Pub. The Courage will continue their week of Pride events through June 21st. They will play their Pride Game vs. Utah Royals FC on June 16.
  • June 16: Courage Pride Game vs. Utah Royals FC at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park at 7 p.m. ET

Washington Spirit

  • June 16: The Washington Spirit’s supporters group, Spirit Squadron, will be hosting a Pride event, time TBD.

Orlando Pride

  • June 16: The Orlando Pride’s Pride Game vs. Sky Blue FC at Orlando City Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Houston Dash

  • June 22: The Houston Dash’s Pride Game vs. Portland Thorns FC at BBVA Compass Stadium at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Seattle Reign FC

  • June 23: The Reign’s Pride Game vs. North Carolina Courage at UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium at 4 p.m. ET.

Portland Thorns FC

  • June 27: The Thorns Pride Game vs. Sky Blue FC at Providence Park at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Utah Royals FC

  • June 27: Utah’s Pride Game vs. Seattle Reign FC at Rio Tinto Stadium at 10 p.m. ET.

Sister, Sister: Tori and Maddie Huster make NWSL history

Tori and Maddie are the first sister duo on the same team in NWSL history

Tori and Maddie Huster are getting their chance to play together for the Washington Spirit on Friday night.

Sisters Tori and Maddie Huster have dinner together every night, although now it isn’t back home in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Husters are the first sisters to ever play on the same NWSL team and currently play for the Washington Spirit. Tori has been with the Spirit since the 2013 Supplemental Draft. She was the club’s second pick and has been with the Spirit ever since. She is the longest tenured Spirit player and on March 24 of this year she made her 100th career NWSL appearance.

On the other hand, her little sister Maddie was recently signed as a national team replacement player after being selected by the Spirit with the sixth pick in the third round at the 2018 NWSL College Draft. She has been playing on the Spirit’s reserve team for multiple seasons.

The two make a point of having dinner together every night now after training, although Tori is still fine-tuning Maddie’s rice cooking skills.

“Maddie, when she was growing up, didn’t know how to cook rice, so I have definitely taught her how to do that. We have dinner together every night, and that has been something I look forward to every single night,” Tori told NWSL Media.

This is the first time the sisters have ever played on an organized team together, mainly due to the large age gap. Tori is 28 and Maddie is 22.

“I think that growing up we were so far apart in age and it was always hard. I mean we were just in different parts of our lives and now it has come in full circle. We’re doing the same thing, living in the same house again, and I think we couldn’t be closer,” Tori said.

“I used to laugh it off when people would ask me if Tori and I could ever play together, because it seemed like it could never happen, so for that to become a reality is pretty unreal,” Maddie said.

The only time they would kick the ball around would be when Tori would come back home for vacation or breaks from soccer.

“A lot of times our dad would take us out and practice. … Maddie would tag along if I was back from college or something. We would shoot at Indian Hill. But really, it was either down in the basement or at our local [field] just having fun, honing skills and doing fitness. And having Maddie beat me at all the fitness tests,” Tori laughed.

Naturally, siblings are competitive. But here, add into the equation the same sport and it gets elevated to another level.

“I think we came out of the womb competitive, as weird as that may sound,” Tori said and the sisters laughed.

“Tori is a bit more fiery,” Maddie chimed in.

“Yeah, I think that covers it. Maddie reigns it in a little bit more, and is probably more effective with it,” Tori said.

And although competitiveness may be in the Huster genes, both of them also recognize and admire one another for having different skills.

“I think that Tori has been incredibly versatile on every team that she has been on and I think that speaks to her knowledge of the game as well as her well-rounded skillset,” Maddie said. “I’ve always been very jealous of Tori’s athletic ability. She is much faster than I am and has an insane jumping ability! She can win any ball in the air over anyone no matter how much taller they may be.”

Tori has played in eight of the Spirit’s game this season and recorded six starts.

“I think from my perspective and watching her grow up, I would say just watching Maddie make her teammates better. She is a very technical player, but she brings leadership to any team she’s been on. She can grab the weakest player and make them better, whether that be with her words or with how she plays. She’s much flashier than I am and she has a great vision going forward. She can finish with both feet which I don’t think I could do,” Tori said.

Maddie joins the Spirit after playing four seasons at Wake Forest University in the midfield. She finished her senior season with four goals and two assists, and her college career with 10 goals and eight assists. She has been playing on the reserve team and admitted that it has been a challenge, but if anyone has helped her through the tough days it has been her big sister.

“I think I have definitely been able to learn from Tori. I think her main advice has been to be patient and to keep working hard and luckily that has paid off this week which has been nice.”

The Huster sisters and the Spirit will face Sky Blue FC on Friday night before the NWSL takes the rest of the FIFA break off.

Alex Morgan scores, USA takes first game from China PR, 1-0

Seattle Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe earned the assist

The Orlando Pride forward scored the lone goal on Thursday night. (Photo credit: John Todd)

Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan scored to lift the U.S. women’s national team past China PR 1-0 on Thursday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Before Thursday night, USA and China have played each other 56 times over the past 32 years. The two countries will meet for a second friendly on June 12 in Cleveland, Ohio. These two matches are being used as crucial preparation for the Concacaf Women’s Championship that will take place in the U.S. from Oct. 4-17.

The U.S. took round one thanks to Morgan’s goal in the 55th minute. Morgan found the back of the net with a header off a bending service from Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC). This is Morgan’s 86th career goal and she earned her 141st cap on the night. She has now scored 13 goals over her last 14 matches. Pinoe earned the assist during her 136th international appearance.

The U.S. struggled to find a rhythm in the first half and had a difficult time playing against China PR’s low block. Yet where they were able to find success was when they found North Carolina Courage forward Crystal Dunn out wide. Dunn started in an outside back position on Thursday and was consistently active up and down the wing getting off crosses and tracking back defensively.

The U.S. had a challenge in the midfield to play against a team that wasn’t giving them gaps or space to play through. Chicago Red Stars midfielder Julie Ertz, North Carolina Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni and Portland Thorns FC midfielder Lindsey Horan were handed the starting task in the middle and struggled to string together the lines.

In the 34th minute, China PR looked like they were on the brink of getting the go-ahead goal after the U.S. turned the ball over in the midfield and China PR forward Li Ying got a chance on net. Chicago Red Stars forward Alyssa Naeher came up big for the U.S. and kept Ying and China PR off the board.

The two teams went into the break level at 0-0, but it didn’t take long after the break for the U.S. to capitalize off a free-kick chance. Rapinoe’s stellar service did the trick and connected with Morgan to put the U.S. up, and proved to be the eventual game-winning goal.

The USWNT’s starting lineup featured 10 players currently competing in the NWSL. The only player in the starting XI who doesn’t play in the NWSL is 19-year-old Tierna Davidson. Davidson, Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC) are the only four players on the roster who have started every game thus far in 2018. The USWNT is now 6-0-1 this year and unbeaten in their last 15 matches.

North Carolina Courage midfielder Zerboni and Sky Blue FC forward Savannah McCaskill both earned their first international start on the night. This was Zerboni’s second cap (her first coming against the Korea Republic in 2017) and McCaskill picked up her sixth cap.

Zerboni went on to play a full 90 minutes and was named Budweiser Woman of the Match.

Utah Royals FC forward Amy Rodriguez came into the match in the 77th minute after not having played with the team since her last WNT camp in 2017. Rodriguez made her NWSL debut this year on April 14 after missing almost two full seasons to give birth and then to recover from an ACL injury.

Utah Royals FC goalkeeper Abby Smith and North Carolina Courage defender Merritt Mathias were both dressed on the bench, however, they did not enter the game.

The U.S. rode the lead for the remainder of the match, with chances trickling in as new personnel rotated into the match. U.S. head coach Jill Ellis used all her available subs, starting with a halftime switch in the midfield. She took out Horan and McCaskill and sent in North Carolina Courage midfielder Sam Mewis and Chicago Red Stars midfielder Sofia Huerta. In the 66th minute, Sky Blue FC forward Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Seattle Reign FC midfielder Allie Long entered the game. The final sub was Rodriguez in for Morgan.

The U.S. will look to improve their 35-9-13 overall record against China PR next Tuesday when the countries meet for the second match of the FIFA break.

One year out from the 2019 Women’s World Cup

Your guide to the WWC and qualification

Some NWSL players already know their international teams are heading to France

Thursday marks one year out to the 2018 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, and fans are already busy planning on how to watch the games or making travel arrangements to witness them in person.

But so far, only eight teams have the luxury of thinking ahead to the World Cup, of having a full year to plan and train and prepare for the most important tournament in women’s soccer. For most of the rest of the world, before they can start to dream of lifting a trophy, there’s still the small matter of qualification.

And count the United States in that same boat.

So for players like Sam Mewis of the North Carolina Courage, balancing club and country, it’s still one step at a time. So first up: these two friendlies against China PR, with qualification looming as the next big target for the team.

“I definitely just think we want to focus on getting better at this camp,” she told NWSL Media on Wednesday before training. “We definitely have qualifiying on the back of our minds, and that’s certainly our goal to qualify for the World Cup, but I think taking what we can learn at this camp here in Utah and going into Cleveland and playing against a really good team in China – we just want to keep growing and keep preparing ourselves for what’s going to be a really tough tournament in October.”

But the fact remains: we’re exactly one year out. In 365 days, the eighth FIFA Women’s World Cup will kick off in Paris, France. A total of 24 nations from six confederations will participate in 52 total matches between the the opener on June 7 until the final on July 7. Games will take place in nine cities across France, with the tournament culminating in Lyon for the semifinals and final.

In addition to Parc des Princes in Paris and Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon, the other seven host cities and venues are:

  • Stade des Alpes in Grenoble
  • Stade Océane in Le Havre
  • Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier
  • Allianz Riviera in Nice
  • Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims
  • Roazhon Park in Rennes
  • Stade de Hainaut in Valenciennes

FIFA put together a quick video of the host cities, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to have you start looking at airfare and hotels.

As for the format itself, the 24 teams are divided into six groups, A-F. The groups will be chosen at the official draw later this year once qualifications are complete. The draw is set for December 8, 2018 in Paris.

The tournament will start with host nation France squaring off against a fellow Group A team. Each set of four teams per group plays three matches in the group stage, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout stage. Additionally, four more teams advance – the top four from the third-place finishers of each group also head to the Round of 16.

From the Round of 16 on, it’s all direct head-to-head competitions, with the quarterfinals, semifinals, and third-place match and final following.

You can also download a PDF of the schedule directly from the FIFA website for printing at your home, office, car or wherever else you might need it.

As for the teams that are actually heading to France, so far only only one-third have officially qualified. So far, France, China, Thailand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Chile all know they’ll be playing next summer for the biggest trophy in women’s soccer. Of those qualified teams, Australia, Japan, Brazil and Chile all include athletes who play in the National Women’s Soccer League – including Sam Kerr of the Chicago Red Stars/Australia, Nahomi Kawasumi of Seattle Reign FC/Japan, Marta of the Orlando Pride/Brazil and Yanara Aedo of the Washington Spirit/Chile.

There are also plenty more NWSL players still looking to qualify for the Women’s World Cup with their national teams, including the entire contigent of U.S. national team players in the league.

So far only two qualification tournaments have finished. Australia and Japan qualified in April thanks to the 2018 AFC Women’s Asia Cup, with Japan defeating Australia 1–0 in the final. Brazil won the 2018 Copa América Femenina, which also serves as CONMEBOL’s qualifying tournament. Chile, who hosted qualifiers, earned their first ever berth to a Women’s World Cup. Argentina, home to Washington Spirit midfielder Estefanía Banini, finished third and will get another shot to qualify via a playoff match.

There are still four qualifying tournaments left to go: the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF), the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf), Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

The first round of CAF qualifiers wraps up on June 9, 2018, with the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations set for November 17 through December 1. Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa are all in the mix to represent Africa at the World Cup, and all have NWSL players on the roster: Elizabeth Addo (Seattle Reign FC/Ghana), Francisca Ordega (Washington Spirit/Nigeria) and the Houston Dash trio of South Africa players Thembi Kgatlana, Linda Motlhalo and Janine Van Wyk.

Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC) and their fellow U.S. national teamers will try to get their official business wrapped up in October after the conclusion of the NWSL season in the Concacaf Women’s Championship, October 4 to 17. The U.S. will be competing on home soil, with matches in North Carolina and Texas.

Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns FC) will once again lead Canada and plenty of fellow NWSL players representing the red and white. Bianca Henninger (Houston Dash) and Katie Johnson (Sky Blue FC) have been regularly rostered for Mexico, and Raquel Rodriguez (Sky Blue FC) and Costa Rica will all also be looking to lock their berths in October.

New Zealand, featuring Utah Royals FC’s Katie Bowen, Sky Blue FC’s Rebekah Stott and Chicago Red Stars’s Rosie White, also has to make it to December to find out if they’re going to France. Their qualifying tournament, the 2018 OFC Women’s Nation Cup, runs November 18 to December 1.

Finally, UEFA. Europe is well-represented across the league, with Denmark, England, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales all in the hunt for one of UEFA’s eight slots.

Thanks to the crowded field in Europe, teams are put in one of seven groups during the qualification stage, which started back in September of 2017 and will continue through this September. The top finisher from each group qualifies, with the eighth and final spot going to the winner of a playoff round between the four best teams who finished their groups in second place.

England and Wales are both in Group 1 together, which means Seattle Reign’s Jodie Taylor and Jess Fishlock are squaring off for qualification. In Group 2, Ana-Maria Crnogorčević (Portland Thorns FC) and Switzerland are in good shape atop Group 2, with Rachel Corsie (Utah Royals FC) and Scotland also in the mix.

Ireland (Denise O’Sullivan, North Carolina Courage) and Norway (Elise Thorsnes, Utah Royals FC), both in Group 3, are hoping to find a way past reigning European champions the Netherlands. Lotta Ökvist of the Orlando Pride and Theresa Nielsen of Seattle Reign FC will find out which of their respective home countries of Sweden and Denmark will finish atop Group 4. And finally in Group 5, Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir and Iceland are trying to topple the likes of Germany for an automatic berth to France.

While everyone waits to see the final list of the 24 nations vying in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and then the results of the draw on Dec. 8, 2018, the NWSL will have you covered with all the latest news and analysis every step of the way. You can always follow the NWSL on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any coverage.

#McCalledUp: Zerboni back with the USWNT thanks to strong NWSL performance

Zerboni earned her first USWNT cap in October of 2017

McCall Zerboni (left) in action vs. her Courage teammate Crystal Dunn at USWNT practice on Wednesday. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Sandy, Utah — McCall Zerboni didn’t want to get ahead of herself, even when U.S. women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis was on the other end of the phone.

“Saw 310 area code, which is obviously Los Angeles, pop up on my phone and just answered it like, ‘Hello, this is McCall,’ like normal day stuff. ‘McCall, it’s Jill Ellis.’ And I just felt like a flutter in my heart,” Zerboni said on Tuesday. “I didn’t get ahead of myself. I knew it could’ve been maybe about something else or you know she had a question, but lo and behold she was inviting me into camp.”

And so the Courage midfielder is in Utah this week, her second-ever call-up to the U.S. women’s national team. Her first came last October, just days after the end of the NWSL season, and ahead of a United States friendly in Cary, North Carolina, at the Courage home field. A few players originally named to the roster, like Mallory Pugh and Tobin Heath, were out because of injuries, and Andi Sullivan returned to college after the United States’ first friendly in New Orleans.

Zerboni was called in just two days before the match, and ended up playing the entire second half in her international debut vs. Korea Republic.

“The first time I got called in it was just kinda because of injuries and things just kinda fell my way and it happened to be in my backyard, so as much as it was a great honor being called up, I didn’t really have like a full camp. The fact that I did get to get into a game and get a cap was just really cool,” Zerboni said.

“Now that I get a full camp, it’s been really enlightening and such a growing and learning experience to see like how they do it in this program and in this environment. I’ve always admired these players from afar and a lot of them I haven’t played with, some of them I have.”

Unlike last time, when the team met her in North Carolina, this time Zerboni, along with four of her Courage teammates, traveled to Utah last Thursday, the day after their 4-1 win over the Thorns. They began training for Thursday night’s game at Rio Tinto Stadium vs. China PR.

She picked up a little bit of a knock coming in, but has trained very well, showed very well. I’ve known McCall probably since she was about 16, 17,” Ellis said on Wednesday of Zerboni, who she coached in college at UCLA. “She’s an incredible professional. Fantastic feet. Great vision. Good teammate. And I’ve seen all of those things at this point in camp with her.”

One of those Courage teammates in Utah with her, Sam Mewis, is perhaps Zerboni’s biggest fan.

“Well, [Courage head coach] Paul [Riley] had maybe mentioned to me that it was like on the table,” Mewis said on Wednesday of the possibility that Zerboni would get the call for this camp.

“So I like didn’t want to think too much about it yet until I knew. And then one day in the training room she was like, ‘Sam, do you know?’ and I was like, ‘Know what?’,” Mewis said, barely hiding her excitement, “and she was like ‘I’m coming into camp.’ And I just had just found out about myself too, so it was like double good news.”

Zerboni was named to the 2017 NWSL Best XI and has been perhaps even stronger in the NWSL this year. She earned the first Player of the Week award of her NWSL career in Week 3. She then won her second in Week 5, one of the few times a non-goalkeeper has won the honor without recording a goal or an an assist. She finished second for Player of the Month in both April and May.

A deep dive into stats from Opta shows Zerboni near the top of a number of categories: tackles won (34, 1st in the NWSL), duels won (124, 2nd), interceptions (42, 2nd) and total touches (798, 4th). Even in aerial duels won, Zerboni – listed at 5’3” – is tied for seventh with 34 (winning 64%). She’s also been more disciplined. After earning four yellow cards in nine games to start last season, she has just two in her last 27 games. And she’s chipped in offense with three goals and an assist for the still unbeaten Courage.

“She’s had such a good start to the season,” said Mewis, who missed the first three games of the year with a right knee injury. Instead of playing right next to Zerboni on the field, she got to watch her in action.

“She’s just been running the show for us. I think that getting to watch from more of afar, I only grew in respect for her. She’s been such a great leader. She’s so tenacious. She seems to come away from every tackle with the ball. And she just has this level of this cleverness and smartness with her passing and her decision-making.”

Zerboni’s first cap last year came at the age of 30 years and 10 months, making her the oldest player to earn her first U.S. cap. It came after a long professional career that began in 2009 and has spanned WPS, WPSL Elite and the NWSL, as well as a number of teams: the Los Angeles Sol, Atlanta Beat, Western New York Flash, Portland Thorns FC, Boston Breakers, the Western New York Flash again and now North Carolina Courage.

“It’s been a long journey for me as a pro. This isn’t something that I’ve been thinking about because I feel that maybe my time had come and gone with that or if I [was] going to break my way into this program then it would’ve happened already,” Zerboni said.

“But I’m a person who never gives up and I’m a person who will always believe – believe in my abilities, believe in my teammates, and believe in possibilities.”

Some may suggest that Zerboni is playing her best soccer now, but she disagrees – especially now that she’s in camp with the USWNT.

“I feel like there’s more levels,” she said. “I’m learning about the ins and the outs and the way they do things. They play a different system and they play a different style and they play a different formation. And that’s just adding a new caliber to my game. And the more and more dynamics I can add to my game, I’m only going to improve. It’s cool to know that I’m not capped out and I still have more to go and give.”

Dash sign defender Clare Polkinghorne

Polkinghorne has represented Australia at three FIFA Women's World Cups

The defender returns to the NWSL after two years with Brisbane Roar FC. (Photo credit: isiphotos.com/Brad Smith

The Houston Dash have signed defender Clare Polkinghorne, the club announced on Thursday. Polkinghorne will join the Dash pending receipt of her International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P-1 visa.

Polkinghorne has earned 97 caps with the Australian women’s national team and has represented the Matildas in three World Cups (2007, 2011, 2015). The defender re-joins the NWSL after playing in nine games for Portland Thorns FC in 2015.

Polkinghorne comes to Houston after playing for Brisbane Roar FC of Australia’s W-League. She has won two championships (2008-2009, 2010-2011) and became the first player in W-League history to play in 100 regular-season games. Most recently, Polkinghorne led her side to its third Premiership in the 2017-2018 season.

The Houston Dash will return to action after the FIFA break hosting Portland Thorns FC on June 16.

NWSL announces updated TV schedule for Games of the Week

Six NWSL Games of the Week moving to evenings on ESPNEWS

Portland Thorns FC and Seattle Reign FC will meet once again on national television. (Photo: Meg Linehan/NWSL Media)

The National Women’s Soccer League announced on Wednesday that ESPN will broadcast six NWSL Games of the Week on ESPNEWS during the rest of the 2018 season. All six games, previously scheduled for broadcast on Lifetime at 3:30 p.m. ET, are now scheduled for evening kickoffs.

The new TV schedule will start on June 16, when the Chicago Red Stars will host Portland Thorns FC. The first broadcast on ESPNEWS will start at 8:00 p.m. ET, with kickoff scheduled for 8:08 p.m.

Lifetime will also broadcast one match on Friday night for the first time this season: the NWSL regular season TV broadcast schedule will conclude with Portland hosting Seattle Reign FC at Providence Park on Friday, Sept. 7 at 10 p.m. ET.

Before the six games aired on ESPNEWS, as well as Sept. 7’s game on Lifetime, the NWSL will shift its pregame coverage online. The NWSL will host a 20-minute pregame show with all the latest news and analysis, live on the league’s Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages.

Jenn Hildreth and Aly Wagner will still be in the booth for the NWSL Game of the Week, and sideline reporter Dalen Cuff will host the pregame show. While Aly Wagner makes some history calling Men’s World Cup games for Fox Sports, two former U.S. internationals will step in as color commentators.

Kate Markgraf, a member of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup winning team and two-time Olympic gold medalist, will fill in on four games on June 16, June 23, June 30 and July 14. Angela Hucles, another double winner of gold in 2004 and 2008, will be in the booth with Hildreth on July 7.

One match that’s sure to be a highlight of the remaining 10 games broadcast on national television: the first ever women’s professional soccer match at Audi Field between the Washington Spirit and Portland Thorns FC. The game is also the return of women’s soccer to downtown D.C, thanks to the location of D.C. United’s brand new state-of-the-art stadium in Buzzard Point.

With six games moving to ESPNEWS, Lifetime’s remaining four games will include the Friday night broadcast and three games unchanged from the standard Saturday time slot of 3:30 p.m. ET. And while all the ESPNEWS matches include a time change to the evening, three games are new to the national TV schedule, including the match at Audi Field and September’s Thorns-Reign face off. July 7’s match-up between the Orlando Pride and Washington Spirit is also a change made with the new broadcast partner, replacing Sky Blue FC vs. the Chicago Red Stars.

On Wednesday, Sky Blue FC announced that their match on July 7 was rescheduled to 7 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed digitally via go90 for U.S. viewers.

Fans can also stream the six matches aired by ESPN Networks using the ESPN app, with authentication required in the United States. The games will also be available to watch on ESPN.com for live streaming with authentication required.

The four matches broadcasted on Lifetime can still be watched online by fans in the U.S. Streams will be available on mylifetime.com and the Lifetime iOS and Android apps – you will need to sign in with your TV provider credentials.

International fans’ streaming options will not be affected by the changes in broadcaster – all games will still be available on the NWSL site and apps for worldwide viewing. Additionally for U.S. viewers, these schedule and broadcasting updates do not impact how to watch games on go90.

After the regular season concludes on Sept. 8, the NWSL Playoffs and Championship will air live on Lifetime. The top four teams will advance to the semifinals, scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 14–16. The NWSL Championship is set for Sept. 22 at 4:30 p.m. ET at Providence Park in Portland. Tickets go on sale to the public this week, on Thursday, June 7 at 1 p.m. ET, and are available by calling (888) 736-6849 or online at the official website of Thorns FC.

Updated 2018 NWSL Game of the Week Schedule

June 16  – Chicago Red Stars (H) vs. Portland Thorns FC (A)
ESPNEWS | Pregame 8 p.m. ET | Kickoff 8:08 p.m. ET
Jenn Hildreth (PBP) & Kate Markgraf (Color); Pregame show via NWSL Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

June 23 – Washington Spirit (H) vs. Orlando Pride (A)
ESPNEWS | Pregame 7 p.m. ET | Kickoff 7:08 p.m. ET
Jenn Hildreth (PBP) & Kate Markgraf (Color); Pregame show via NWSL Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

June 30 – Orlando Pride (H) vs. North Carolina Courage (A)
Lifetime | Pregame 3:30 p.m. ET | Kickoff 3:50 p.m. ET
Jenn Hildreth (PBP) & Kate Markgraf (Color)

July 7 – Orlando Pride (H) vs. Washington Spirit (A)
ESPNEWS | Pregame 7:30 p.m. ET | Kickoff 7:38 p.m. ET
Jenn Hildreth (PBP) & Angela Hucles (Color); Pregame show via NWSL Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

July 14 – Utah Royals FC (H) vs. Orlando Pride (A)
ESPNEWS | Pregame 7 p.m. ET | Kickoff 7:08 p.m. ET
Jenn Hildreth (PBP) & Kate Markgraf (Color); Pregame show via NWSL Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

July 21 – Orlando Pride (H) vs. Seattle Reign FC (A)
Lifetime | Pregame 3:30 p.m. ET | Kickoff 3:50 p.m. ET
Jenn Hildreth (PBP) & Aly Wagner (Color)

August 11 – Utah Royals FC (H) vs. Seattle Reign FC (A)
Lifetime | Pregame 3:30 p.m. ET | Kickoff 3:50 p.m. ET
Jenn Hildreth (PBP) & Aly Wagner (Color)

August 18 – Portland Thorns FC (H) vs. Chicago Red Stars (A)
ESPNEWS | Pregame 10:30 p.m. | Kickoff 10:38 p.m. ET
Jenn Hildreth (PBP) & Aly Wagner (Color); Pregame show via NWSL Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

August 25 – Washington Spirit (H) vs. Portland Thorns FC (A) at Audi Field
ESPNEWS | Pregame 7:30 p.m. ET | Kickoff 7:38 p.m. ET
Jenn Hildreth (PBP) & Aly Wagner (Color); Pregame show via NWSL Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

September 7 – Portland Thorns FC (H) vs. Seattle Reign FC (A)
Lifetime | Pregame 10 p.m. ET | Kickoff 10:04 p.m. ET
Jenn Hildreth (PBP) & Aly Wagner (Color); Pregame show via NWSL Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

May Team of the Month

The May Team of the Month presented by Cutter

Three members of the North Carolina Courage lead the way on the May Team of the Month, announced on Wednesday. They are joined by May Player of the Month Rachel Daly of the Houston Dash along with her teammate Kristie Mewis, Christine Sinclair and Lindsey Horan of Portland Thorns FC, Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Smith of Utah Royals FC, Ali Krieger of the Orlando Pride, and Steph Catley of Seattle Reign FC.

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

GK: Abby Smith, Utah Royals FC

In May, Abby Smith earned three shutouts in four games played. She allowed just two goals in May, and made seven saves. Smith led Utah Royals FC to a 2-1-1 record on the month (3-2-5 overall) and helped her team earn their first win in franchise history on May 5.

D: Steph Catley, Seattle Reign FC

Steph Catley recorded assists in back-to-back games to help her team earn two wins this month. The Reign went 3-1-1 in May and Catley held down the defensive unit until missing the Reign’s final match of the month with an ankle injury. In the four games she played, she created eight chances, made four clearances, earned four interceptions, and won seven tackles.

D: Abby Erceg, North Carolina Courage

Abby Erceg led the Courage to another month undefeated and contributed a goal and an assist. The center back held down the backline, making 26 clearances and earning eight interceptions.

D: Becky Sauerbrunn, Utah Royals FC

Becky Sauerbrunn led Utah Royals FC to three shutouts in May. Utah Royals FC went 2-1-1 in the month and, in that time, Sauerbrunn had 21 clearances. Sauerbrunn also made 11 interceptions and earned three blocks.

D: Ali Krieger, Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride went 3-1-1 in May thanks large in part to Ali Krieger’s ball service and efforts defensively on the flank. Krieger earned an assist in the Pride’s win against the Red Stars and made 15 clearances, 10 interceptions and seven blocks in the month. Krieger suffered a right medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury in her right knee during the Pride’s 5-3 win over the Red Stars and will miss the next 4-6 weeks.

M: Kristie Mewis, Houston Dash

Kristie Mewis scored two goals in May to help the Dash go 3-1-2. The midfielder took nine shots, created nine chances for her team, and won 15 tackles. Mewis started and played every minute for the the Dash until she went down with a knee injury in the Dash’s final game of the month against the Washington Spirit. Mewis will miss the rest of the season.

M: Lindsey Horan, Portland Thorns FC

In May, Lindsey Horan doubled her season goal tally, after finding the back of the net twice. The Thorns went 2-3-1 last month and Horan took 18 shots, seven of which were on target. The midfielder also created six chances for her team and made nine interceptions.

M: McCall Zerboni, North Carolina Courage

The midfielder earns back-to-back Team of the Month honors, having previously picked up the nod in April. In May, Zerboni had one goal and one assist to help the Courage keep their undefeated streak alive. Zerboni made 20 interceptions and won 16 tackles last month.

F: Rachel Daly, Houston Dash

The Dash forward was named Player of the Month after she scored four goals in six games, as the Dash went 3-1-2 in May. Daly also recently earned Player of the Week honors after leading the Dash to two wins in Week 9. Daly finished the month with nine shots on goal and 11 chances created. She played every minute of all six of Houston’s games in the month.

F: Christine Sinclair, Portland Thorns FC

Portland Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair has scored six goals this season to lead the league. Sinclair added two of those goals in May and also added an assist. Sinclair created nine chances for her team and took 14 shots with six on frame.

F: Crystal Dunn, North Carolina Courage

Crystal Dunn had a busy month; from earning Week 8’s Player of the Week nod — for the seventh time in her NWSL career — to leading the Courage to a 4-0-1 record in May. Dunn had a goal and two assists last month and created 12 chances for her team. The forward was also named to April’s Team of the Month.

Watch: 3 Moments

Estefanía Banini, Katie Johnson, Jane Campbell

The Spirit midfielder has scored one goal this season. (Photo credit:Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com)

Three moments from Week 10:

  • Washington Spirit midfielder Estefanía Baninis 360 dribbling skill to escape pressure
  • Sky Blue FC forward Katie Johnson‘s no-look flick
  • Houston Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell earns the first goalkeeper assist in NWSL history

Watch 3 Moments from Week 10 below, and catch all past weeks on the YouTube playlist.

Goal of the Week: Katherine Reynolds

The Thorns defender scored in her 100th career NWSL game

The defender scored in the 89th minute to put her team on the board. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

Portland Thorns FC defender Katherine Reynolds one-time shot into the top left corner against the North Carolina Courage was voted Week 10’s NWSL Goal of the Week. Reynolds’ goal — the first of her NWSL career — came during her 100th NWSL career appearance.

Watch the Week 10 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: Yuki Nagasato

The forward scored to lift the Red Stars over the Spirit in Week 10

Nagasato's free kick in the 24th minute set up Sam Kerr for the first goal of the night. (Photo credit: Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com)

Yuki Nagasato has been voted Player of the Week for Week 10 of the 2018 season by the NWSL Media Association.

The Chicago Red Stars forward helped her team earn three points in Week 10 by serving a free kick that eventually put her team ahead early after teammate Sam Kerr finished the rebound, and then chipped in a goal of her own in the 48th minute. Nagasato and the Red Stars went on to defeat the Washington Spirit 2-0 on the night and improved to 3-3-6 overall.

Nagasato played all 90 minutes of the game and finished the match with two shots (two on target) and one chance created from 43 touches, according to Opta. It is the first time Nagasato has been honored as the NWSL Player of the Week.

Nagasato sent a powerful, bending free kick at Spirit goalkeeper Kelsey Wys in the 24th minute. Wys was able to make the initial save, but the ball bounced away from her and into the feet of Red Stars forward Sam Kerr. Kerr was able to finish the rebound to put her team up 1-0.

Nagasato would then get a goal of her own in the 48th minute. Red Stars midfielder Rosie White sent a ball into the box that Nagasato brought down and then passed to Alyssa Mautz. Mautz then played it back to Nagasato, who then struck it one-time with her left foot to make it 2-0. This was Nagasato’s second career NWSL goal.

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: Haley Kopmeyer

The Pride goalkeeper earned a clean sheet in her first start of the year

The Orlando Pride goalkeeper made five saves in her first start of the year. (Photo credit: Jane Gershovich)

Orlando Pride goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer‘s diving punch save against a strike from Seattle Reign FC’s Nahomi Kawasumi in the 51st minute was voted Week 10’s 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.

Midge Purce out with right ankle sprain

Purce has been ruled out of the U.S. women's national team friendlies

Purce has started and played every game for the Thorns this season. (Photo credit:

Portland Thorns FC defender Midge Purce has been ruled out of the U.S. women’s national team friendlies against China PR due to a right ankle sprain she suffered during training, U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday.

Purce, who has started every game for the Thorns this season, earned her second national team call-up in May. She was previously on the 2017 Tournament of Nations roster.

Purce has returned to the Portland to be further evaluated and begin her rehab process.

The Thorns won’t be back in NWSL action until June 16 due to the FIFA break. The USWNT are currently in Utah, preparing for their pair of games against China PR on Thursday, June 7 and Tuesday, June 12. The U.S. now has 24 players in camp, after adding Washington Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle on June 3.

 

Week 10 Power Rankings: Courage untouched, Reign up two spots

NWSL Power Rankings presented by Cutter

Courage rookie forward Frannie Crouse scored her first NWSL goal in her pro debut on Sunday. (Photo credit:

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

1

NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE
9-0-3, 30 pts

Change:
Last week: 1

The Courage (9-0-3) extended their unbeaten streak to 12 games after Week 10, earning three points in their Wednesday night match-up against Portland Thorns FC and one point in their draw with the Houston Dash on Sunday. The Courage showed that they could still get the job done without their usual starting cast out on international duty in Sunday’s game and it was Frannie Crouse in her NWSL debut who saved the day with a game-tying goal in the 80th minute. Crouse scored her first pro goal to earn a 1-1 result to close out the weekend games. The Courage are now tied for the second-longest unbeaten streak to start a season with the 2016 Thorns, who started with 12 games unbeaten (7-0-5).


2

SEATTLE REIGN FC
5-2-3, 18 pts

Change: ▲ 2
Last week: 4

No harm done for the Reign in Week 10. The Reign (5-2-3) remain in second place in the league standings after earning one point in a 0-0 draw against the Orlando Pride on Sunday night. The Reign were without their leading goal scorer, Megan Rapinoe, who was recently called up to the U.S. women’s national team camp ahead of the June friendlies, but were solid throughout the pitch. Goalkeeper Lydia Williams earned a shutout for her side and the Reign will look to earn three points after the FIFA break when they face the Spirit on June 16.


3

ORLANDO PRIDE
4-3-4, 16 pts

Change:
Last week: 3

The Pride (4-3-4) close out Week 10 still in third place in the league standings just two points behind Seattle Reign. The Pride earned one point on Sunday night in a scoreless draw against the Reign. Pride goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer earned her first start of the year and picked up a shutout against her former team. The Pride extended their unbeaten streak on the road to five games and will next host Sky Blue FC on Saturday, June 16.


4

UTAH ROYALS FC
3-2-5, 14 pts

Change: ▲ 1
Last week: 5

Utah Royals FC earned their first win on the road beating Sky Blue FC 2-1 on Saturday night. Utah are now 3-2-5 and sit in sixth place in the league standings with 14 points. Utah Royals FC midfielder Diana Matheson scored her second goal of the season to help her side pick up the result. Utah will look to climb up the standings after the FIFA break when they travel to the league-leading North Carolina Courage on June 16.


5

PORTLAND THORNS FC
4-4-3, 15 pts

Change: ▼ 3
Last week: 2

The Thorns dropped three points in Week 10 falling to the Courage 4-1 on Wednesday night. With the loss, the Thorns fell to 4-4-3 (15 points). It’s Portland’s third home loss, after losing just once at home in each of the past two seasons. The highlight of Week 10 for the Thorns was in the 89th minute when Katherine Reynolds, appearing in her 100th career NWSL game, scored her first career goal. The Thorns will regroup after the break to face the Chicago Red Stars on the road.


6

HOUSTON DASH
3-4-5, 14 pts

Change:
Last week: 6

The Dash were on the brink of snatching the North Carolina Courage’s 11-game unbeaten streak on Sunday night, but settled for a 1-1 result to close out Week 10 play. Dash forward Kealia Ohai scored her second goal of the season in the draw and the Dash improve to 3-4-5 overall for seventh place in the league standings. The Dash will have a long break until they return to action on June 22 against Portland Thorns FC.


7

CHICAGO RED STARS
3-3-6, 15 pts

Change:
Last week: 7

The Red Stars were able to earn the result on Saturday night over the Washington Spirit despite wet, tough conditions at Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland Soccer Plex. The Red Stars defeated the Spirit 2-0 with Sam Kerr and Yuki Nagasato scoring. The Red Stars improve to 3-3-6 overall and sit in fifth place in the league standings. The Red Stars will look for their second win at home when they host the Thorns after the break on June 16.


8

WASHINGTON SPIRIT
2-7-2, 8 pts

Change:
Last week: 8

The Spirit suffered their seventh loss this year falling to the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 on Saturday night in Week 10. The Spirit are in eighth place in the league standings at 2-7-2 (8 points) and are six points behind the Houston Dash, in seventh place.  The Spirit will be in action during the break, going on the road to take on the winless Sky Blue FC on Friday, June 8. 


9

SKY BLUE FC
0-8-1, 1 pt

Change:
Last week: 9

Sky Blue FC remains in pursuit of their first win of the year at 0-8-1 overall. Sky Blue, now nine games without a win, have also not led in 810 minutes of league play. The New Jersey team will play during the break when they host the Washington Spirit on Friday, June 8. Sky Blue’s one point is second only to the 2013 Seattle Reign for the longest winless start to a season (11 games) and tied with the 2013 Reign for the fewest points heading into game nine (1 point). 

Week 10 Rewind

Important points for North Carolina and big wins for Utah and Chicago

The Red Stars beat the Spirit 2-0 in Week 10. (Photo credit: Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com)

A look back at Week 10 in the NWSL:

 

 

May 30: Portland Thorns FC 1 | North Carolina Courage 4

The Courage scored three goals in six minutes to top the Thorns 4-1 at Providence Park. Lynn Williams scored twice and North Carolina added goals from Debinha and Sam Mewis. Thorns defender Katherine Reynolds scored her first NWSL goal in her 100th career game. Recap


June 2: Sky Blue FC 1 | Utah Royals FC 2

Sky Blue FC fell to 0-8-1 after giving up a late own goal to Utah Royals FC. Diana Matheson scored for Utah and Shea Groom scored her first goal of the season for Sky Blue FC. Recap

 


June 2: Washington Spirit 0 | Chicago Red Stars 2

Sam Kerr and Yuki Nagasato scored for the Red Stars as Chicago earned a 2-0 win in the pouring rain in Maryland. Rookie goalkeeper Emily Boyd made her NWSL debut and earned her first career clean sheet. Recap

 


June 3: Houston Dash 1 | North Carolina Courage 1

Courage rookie Frannie Crouse scored her first professional goal in her NWSL debut to salvage a 1-1 draw on the road for the North Carolina Courage, who were missing six starters. The draw extended their unbeaten streak to 12 games, now tied for second all-time in NWSL history. They are 9-0-3 with 30 points, 12 points ahead of second-place Seattle Reign FC. Recap

 


June 3: Seattle Reign FC 0 | Orlando Pride 0

Seattle Reign FC and the Orlando Pride played to a 0-0 draw to close out Week 10 in the NWSL. Pride goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer made her first start of the year and earned the clean sheet against her former team. Lydia Williams earned a shutout for the Reign. Recap

 

 

Q&A: Aly Wagner talks NWSL and calling Men’s World Cup games

Wagner will call Men's World Cup games this summer

NWSL on Lifetime's Aly Wagner (Photo credit: Meg Linehan/NWSL Media)

NWSL fans know Aly Wagner well. The two-time Olympic gold medalist can be seen and heard every Saturday afternoon as the color analyst for the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime.

This summer, she’ll also serve as color analyst for FOX’s coverage the FIFA Men’s World Cup, which begins June 14. She’ll be the first woman to call Men’s World Cup games on television in the United States.

But first, she’ll be calling Washington Spirit vs. Chicago Red Stars on Lifetime on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET) this weekend and then United States vs. China PR on FS1 (Thursday, June 7, at 9 p.m. ET).

NWSL Media caught up with Wagner ahead of her busy summer.

 

What are you most looking forward to as you call the games?

Wagner: I think, like anyone, big moments. The drama. You know in most of the matches there’s going to be breakthrough moments. The spectacular. I think there’s going to be some pretty big goals. I think about it as a fan and remember some of those moments and I just hope that we’ll be calling some of those games, the games that have those moments in them. The big moments. I think I am always a fan of the underdog, so the upsets. I like to see some of the teams that come together, [that] don’t have the big superstars that play at the big clubs, and see if they can kind of shock the world.

 

What’s your first game?

Wagner: Iran-Morocco, so Day 2. Then Serbia-Costa Rica, then Tunisia-England and then Colombia-Japan, and then it continues on. So I have about ten games in the group stage.

 

What is your typical preparation like? What goes into calling a game?

Wagner: It’s different for teams that I’ve never called vs. teams that I’m pretty familiar with. With this World Cup in particular, it’s been digging into tendencies, formations, personnel, likely substitution patterns and that’s really hard to do because so many times I’m watching old matches that are in different languages. So you might not know that Raphaël Guerreiro was sitting out this match because he picked up an injury in Bundesliga play, so you don’t know why someone’s slotted in. It’s a little bit of a challenge, but it’s just looking for patterns, so I have notebooks full of just notes that I take on how they line up, how they’re defending, how they’re attacking, tendencies of individuals and then trying to sometimes figure out, well is this because of the opponent or is this because this is how they prefer to play? So I just have a lot of handwritten notes and I have to go back through it and really then pick out the big nuggets that seem to be reoccurring themes and really condense it down to something I can take into the booth with me and it’s quick reference and considerations heading into the match.

 

How much has doing a weekly NWSL game these last two years helped you as a broadcaster?

Wagner: It’s a really good question. A ton, in terms of confidence and experience and the rhythms of it, figuring out what works, what doesn’t. The men’s game is very different from the women’s game, so in certain ways it’s going to be a little bit of a jump to jump into the Men’s World Cup games because the pace of the match is so different. But for the most part, the repetition is a really great thing for any broadcaster and the confidence that comes from that. Sometimes when you haven’t called a match in a while — I remember at the beginning of the season — you’re just a little rusty and your cadence is off and your timing can be off. And then also seeing things unfold, it can be more challenging. So I feel like I’m in a pretty good rhythm right now with every week in and week out.

 

How much do you think about being the first woman in the United States to do this? I’m sure you get asked about it a lot. What’s your feeling?

Wagner: It’s funny. I get asked about it a ton and I think about it when they ask me. And otherwise, I’m thinking about preparing for a World Cup. Yesterday, today, also been talking about it a lot. The truth is, the pressure and the gravity of the situation — the responsibility that I feel — is because it’s a World Cup and it’s the biggest sporting event in the world and we have the responsibility to take our audience on a ride through that. And that’s the responsibility that I feel. I don’t feel any added pressure because I’m a woman. Maybe that’s odd. But I don’t. I’m humbled and honored that I am going to have the opportunity to do this, so then it’s not even a question in the future that another woman shouldn’t have that same opportunity. So that is the big thing, of course, that comes out of it. But for me it’s really about preparing the way I always prepare and doing the best I can in the moment — as an analyst and that’s it.

 

Moving on to the NWSL, what has made North Carolina so good this season?

Wagner: First of all, they have quality in every position and they have players that are fairly comfortable on the ball in every position. And that’s massive. And just to be able to connect. And then, their defensive organization and their press is probably the best in the league. I think McCall Zerboni summed it up — for me — when she said, “Look, it’s not token pressure. When we go in, we’re going in to win it.” And so, if that first defender goes in to win it and they don’t, they’re so well-organized that the next player’s right behind. So things don’t break down, more often than not, if that first player doesn’t win the challenge. They’re still in really good shape. So I think defensively, they’re just incredibly difficult to solve their press and offensively they’re just efficient. They’re a well-oiled machine. I almost think of Germany in comparison because they’re very effective horizontally and vertically. So you don’t know which way to squeeze them because they’re going to stretch you both ways and that creates space inside for their players that are really talented on the ball and then they’ve got the pace around the pitch. As much as we talk about taking the game to the next level for the women and really playing tiki-taka football, they don’t have to. They’ve nailed their style. It’s incredibly efficient, I guess I would say, in how they can break people down. It’s really impressive. And then they’re not even efficient in the final third. That’s the funny thing. They create so many quality chances. In this game we measure, I think, pressure on the opponent as quality chances that are created, and they have to statistically dominate everyone in that category, and then they’re not even good at finishing, but they still create that many more chances that they wind up winning 4-1.

 

You mention McCall Zerboni. You were on the same team as Zerboni in 2009 with the Los Angeles Sol. She’s having a great season. What do you make of the evolution of her game from then to now?

Wagner: She’s always been technical. She’s always been a smart player. So it doesn’t surprise me that she’s found the level she has. How much of football is even having the confidence of your manager? I think she is kind of the perfect storm of all that. Paul [Riley] believes in her implicitly and she thrives in that. And I think playing in a deeper role suits her. Think about years before — she was maybe a wing mid, she was a wide mid, she was an attacking mid. But I think this role is where her bread and butter is because she’s so clean at just pinging the ball to her teammates, whether it be that five-yard pass or it’s that change of point ball. She can execute that with just a window of space. She can create space for herself. And then she’s the one that just gets in on the mucky challenges. So, I think a lot of her evolution has been getting her in the right position, getting her in the right role. It’s not to say that she can’t — we’ve seen her finish. She can thread final balls. But I do think she runs this team with tempo and an understanding greater than most in this league. I think it’s the right role. I think it’s the right manager. And then — she works tirelessly. You know, how much time she spends off [the field] , takes care of her body. So she’s just a true professional, I think, in how she’s going about it and that’s why all these pieces have come together and seen her ascension and get the respect, getting the call up to the national team.

 

Speaking of the U.S. women’s national team’s roster — a couple of new-ish faces on the roster for next week — what do you expect from their friendly vs. China PR?

Wagner: You know it’s hard with these midseason matches. To be fair, I’m calling the game [on FS1 on Thursday, June 7], I haven’t delved into China whatsoever yet. I haven’t had time for obvious reasons. I think a lot of the U.S. players are in good form. They’ve been playing better as a unit, I think, and understanding their system better and better. As long some of the key players are healthy, it’s going to be about clicking, but also managing the individuals so you don’t have players taking knocks leaving camp. I think it’s going to be — hopefully, I would presume — from Jill Ellis and the coaching staff’s point of view, it’s going to be about the mental preparation more than it is the physical preparation to then allow them to go out and hopefully a lot of the team will share minutes in both because there’s two games.

 

Was Portland-Seattle the most fun you’ve ever had calling a game?

Wagner: I think so! Oh my gosh. Sometimes I leave matches exhausted, and that one I left buzzing. It was off the charts in terms of being open and the quality that was there. So many times we see a lot of breakdowns break up the flow of play and there was a lot of really high-end stuff going on at both ends of it. So I thought it was incredible. There were a lot of really good chances, so it was fun. Of course, we can nitpick on why chances were created, but the pressure I think from both sides was put on the opponent and that’s always fun to watch.

 

May Player of the Month: Rachel Daly

Daly scored four goals in six games in May

Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly has four goals this season. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com)

Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly has been voted May Player of the Month by the NWSL Media Association.

Daly scored four goals in six games as the Dash went 3-1-2 and moved into fifth place in the NWSL standings. Most recently, Daly earned Week 9 Player of the Week honors after leading the Dash to two wins last week.

Her first goal of the month — and of the season — came in Houston’s first win of the season, a 3-2 victory over Sky Blue FC on May 5. In the 59th minute, she found the back of the net with a chip over Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan.

She got her second goal of the year on May 12 in a 2-2 draw with the Red Stars. In the 6th minute, Nichelle Prince found Daly on a breakaway and Daly hit a bending shot around goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to give Houston an early lead. Daly also contributed to the second goal of the game, sending a low free kick to Kyah Simon, who passed to Kristie Mewis for a quick, set-piece strike.

Another Daly free kick led to a goal in Houston’s 2-1 win over Seattle Reign FC on May 23. After her service bounced in the box, Mewis tapped it home for the score. Daly was also involved in the passing sequence of Houston’s counter-attack goal that won the game in the 93rd minute that night.

Daly finished off the month with a brace, the first of her NWSL career, in Houston’s 3-2 win over the Washington Spirit. Her first goal was a one-time finish on an assist from Nichelle Prince. Her second came off of an assist from Thembi Kgatlana after Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe came well out of the penalty area to try to make a play.

Daly finished the month with four goals, nine shots on goal, and 11 chances created. She played every minute of all six of Houston’s games in the month.

Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni finished second in Player of the Month voting. Thorns forward Christine Sinclair was third.

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.

 

Mallory Pugh out with knee injury

Pugh suffered a knee injury on Sunday night

Washington Spirit forward Mallory Pugh has two goals and an assist in 2018. (Photo credit: Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com)

Washington Spirit forward Mallory Pugh suffered a knee injury at the end of the Sunday night’s game against the Houston Dash and then was not called into U.S. women’s national team training camp when the roster was announced on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the Spirit said that Pugh was evaluated by Spirit and U.S. Soccer medical stuff and is undergoing additional evaluations to determine the extent of the injury and her status in upcoming games.

The Spirit said that the injury was the reason that she was not called in by the USWNT and that she would not be available for Saturday’s meeting with the Chicago Red Stars.

Ali Krieger to miss 4-6 weeks with right knee injury

Krieger was injured Saturday night vs. the Red Stars

The Pride defender played in every minute since joining the Pride ahead of the 2017 NWSL season. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com)

Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger has suffered a right medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury in her right knee and will miss 4-6 weeks, the team announced on Wednesday. Krieger was injured on Saturday night in the Pride’s 5-2 win over the Chicago Red Stars.

Krieger went down in the 66th minute of play just a few minutes after earning an assist on a Sydney Leroux diving header-goal in the 61st minute.

Krieger has recorded three assists over the course of her two seasons in Orlando. She has also started and played every minute of every game for the Pride.

Watch: 3 Moments

Poliana, Rumi Utsugi, Houston Dash

The Reign midfielder has one goal this season. (Photo credit: Howard C. Smith/isiphotos.com)

Three moments from Week 9:

  1. Orlando Pride Poliana‘s poke away defensive play
  2. Seattle Reign FC Rumi Utsugi‘s juggle to escape pressure
  3. Houston Dash’s quick counter

Watch 3 Moments from Week 9 below, and catch all past weeks on the YouTube playlist.

Zerboni, Purce, Mathias, Smith named to USWNT roster for June friendlies

Amy Rodriguez returns to the roster for the first time since last April

Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni has three goals this season. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

U.S. women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 24-woman preliminary roster for the friendlies vs. China PR on June 7 (at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah) and June 12 (at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland). Eighteen players will be named for each gameday roster.

Among the names on the roster: Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni, Thorns midfielder Midge Purce, Courage defender Merritt Mathias, Utah Royals FC goalkeeper Abby Smith and Utah Royals FC forward Amy Rodriguez. Overall, 20 NWSL players have been called in.

Zerboni has one cap in her international career. Mathias, Purce and Smith are uncapped. Rodriguez has 130 caps, but hasn’t played for the USWNT since October 2015 following the birth of her son and an ACL tear.

Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Sam Mewis (North Carolina Courage) and Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars) are also back on the roster after missing time this year due to injury.

NWSL players will report to USWNT camp on June 1, and will return on June 13. There are four NWSL games the weekend of June 2 and 3, as well as one NWSL game that takes place on June 8, during the FIFA window.

It’s the second career call-up for Zerboni, who played 45 minutes for the USWNT in October vs. Korea Republic in North Carolina after the 2017 NWSL season. In that game, two months before she turned 31, she became the oldest player to earn her first cap in USWNT history.

This season in the NWSL, Zerboni leads the league in tackles won (32). She is second in duels won (113), second in interceptions (39), sixth in aerial duels won (33) and fourth in total touches (727). She has also added three goals and played every minute.

It’s the second call-up for Mathias, who was in camp in October 2016 for friendlies vs. Switzerland. Mathias has one goal and has played all but 19 minutes for the Courage this season at right back, after joining the team in an offseason trade with Seattle Reign FC. She’s recorded 17 chances created, sixth-best in the NWSL.

Purce also earns her second call-up after being on the roster for the 2017 Tournament of Nations, though she did not appear in a game. Purce joined the Thorns in the January dispersal draft and has played right-wing outside back in the Thorns 3-5-2 formation. She has played all but 27 minutes so far this season. She’s seventh in the league in duels won (72) and sixth in tackles won (22).

Rodriguez has a goal and an assist for Utah Royals FC this season. She made her season debut on April 14 after recovering from her torn ACL suffered in April 2017. She scored her first goal of the season two weeks later. She played all 90 minutes for the first time on May 26.

Smith has played every minute of Utah Royals FC’s nine games this season and has earned four clean sheets, tied for the league-lead in the NWSL. She’s made 13 saves and conceded seven goals. Smith was previously called in for the June 2017 friendlies and was on the roster for the 2017 Tournament of Nations.

Sky Blue FC’s Savannah McCaskill is the only NWSL rookie on the roster. She has two goals and has appeared in every game so far this season for Sky Blue.

Also named to the roster is Sky Blue FC 2018 draft pick Casey Murphy, who now plays in the D1 Feminine for Montpellier HSC and was named the top goalkeeper in the French league.

 

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position; Caps/Goals

GOALKEEPERS (4): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 15/0), Casey Murphy (Montpellier HSC, FRA; 0/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 28/0), Abby Smith (Utah Royals FC; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage; 18/0), Tierna Davidson (Stanford; 6/0), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars; 5/0), Merritt Mathias (North Carolina Courage; 0/0), Margaret Purce (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 137/0)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 74/6), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 59/15), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 49/5), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 252/100), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage; 34/7), Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC; 37/6), McCall Zerboni (North Carolina Courage; 1/0)

FORWARDS (7): Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 62/23), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 132/18), Savannah McCaskill (Sky Blue FC; 5/0), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 140/85), Christen Press (Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC, SWE; 98/44), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 135/36), Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals FC; 130/30)

 

Player of the Week: Rachel Daly

The forward scored twice in Week 9

The forward has four goals this season. (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

Rachel Daly has been voted Player of the Week for Week 9 of the 2018 season by the NWSL Media Association.

The Houston Dash forward helped her team earn six points in Week 9 and chipped in two goals on Saturday night to lift the Dash over the Washington Spirit 3-2. On Wednesday night, it was Daly’s free kick which set up the eventual equalizer goal from midfielder Kristie Mewis. The Dash went on to defeat the Seattle Reign FC 2-1 on the night.

Daly and the Dash have now won two straight at home. Daly has a team-leading four goals this season, and this is the second time she has been honored as NWSL Player of the Week in her career. She previously picked up the nod in Week 1 of the 2016 season.

Daly’s first goal of the week came in the 41st minute of play off of a Nichelle Prince cross. Daly finished it one-time to put her team up 1-0 just before the half. Daly’s second goal was the result of a Dash breakaway in the 78th minute. Midfielder Linda Motlhalo played in forward Thembi Kgatlana behind the Spirit defense and goalkeeper, and Daly was also crashing the net alongside her. Kgatlana eventually slipped in Daly who was wide open to dribble the ball into the net for her second of the night.

 

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.

Week 9 Power Rankings: Courage, Thorns hold top spots

NWSL Power Rankings presented by Cutter

The Courage and Thorns will meet on Wednesday night. (Photo credit: isiphotos.com)

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

 

1

NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE
8-0-2, 26 pts

Change:
Last week: 1

The North Carolina Courage remain on top after defeating the Orlando Pride 4-3 in Week 9 action. The Courage improved to 8-0-2 with the result and forward Jess McDonald was the difference maker, scoring a brace in the win. The Courage had a break over the weekend and will next face Portland Thorns FC for a Wednesday night meeting. The Courage last faced the Thorns in their first match of 2018 and earned a 1-0 win over the reigning NWSL champions.


2

PORTLAND THORNS FC
4-3-3, 15 pts

Change: ▲ 1
Last week: 3

The Thorns improved to 4-3-3 in league play after earning a 2-0 result over Utah Royals FC in Week 9. Christine Sinclair scored her sixth goal of the season in the win and midfielder Lindsey Horan also scored. The Thorns are in fourth place in the league standings with 15 points and with a win on Wednesday night over the Courage it could push them as high as second place (Seattle Reign FC currently sit in second place with 17 points).


3

ORLANDO PRIDE
4-3-3, 15 pts

Change: ▲ 1
Last week: 4

The Pride had a busy Week 9, with two games in four days. The Pride dropped their Wednesday night match against the Courage, falling 4-3 at home, but were able to bounce back on Saturday, beating the Chicago Red Stars 5-2. The Pride are in third place in the league standings at 4-3-3 (15 points). The Pride scored eight goals this past week and in the Saturday night win over the Red Stars forward Sydney Leroux scored two goals in the span of two minutes. If the Pride continue with this scoring streak, they will be in good shape against the Seattle Reign on Sunday, June 3.


4

SEATTLE REIGN FC
5-2-2, 17 pts

Change: ▼ 2
Last week: 2

The Reign dropped down two spots this week in the power rankings after falling to the Houston Dash 2-1 on Wednesday and then picking up a 1-0 result over Sky Blue FC on Saturday. The Reign still hold on to second place in the league standings with a 5-2-2 record (17 points), however they have a tough match-up in Week 10 when the Orlando Pride visit UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium on Sunday. Forward Megan Rapinoe continues to be the difference maker for her team. She scored her fifth goal of the year to lift her team over Sky Blue on Saturday.


5

UTAH ROYALS FC
2-2-5, 11 pts

Change:
Last week: 5

Utah Royals FC fell to the Thorns 2-0 in Week 9 and dropped to 2-5-5 (11 points) in league play. Utah sits in seventh place and suffered their first road loss. While Utah fell in a tough one at Providence Park, forward Amy Rodriguez played all 90 minutes for the first time all season. With Rodriguez looking like she’s back at 100%, Utah Royals FC will look to bounce back when they visit Sky Blue FC on Saturday, June 2.


6

HOUSTON DASH
3-4-4, 13 pts

Change: ▲ 2
Last week: 8

The Dash moved up two spots in the power rankings this week after earning six points in Week 9. The Dash first defeated Seattle Reign FC 2-1 on Wednesday and then beat the Spirit 3-2 on Sunday. Forward Rachel Daly scored a brace against the Spirit and now leads her team in goals (4). Dash midfielder Kristie Mewis suffered a knee sprain against the Spirit and will miss the remainder of the season. The Dash will have to make do without Mewis, who has scored two goals this season, including the game-tying goal on Wednesday night. The Dash will next host the North Carolina Courage on Sunday.


7

CHICAGO RED STARS
2-3-6, 12 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 6

The Red Stars dropped three points at home in Week 9 falling to the Orlando Pride 5-2. Red Stars forward Sam Kerr scored a brace in the loss and now has four goals this season. Saturday’s loss makes the Red Stars now winless in their last seven games (0-2-5 over that span.) The last time the Red Stars won was on April 18, where they beat the Houston Dash 3-0. The Red Stars hit the road in Week 10 to take on the Washington Spirit on Saturday.


8

WASHINGTON SPIRIT
2-6-2, 8 pts

Change: ▼ 1
Last week: 7

The Spirit earned three points in Week 9 after defeating Sky Blue FC on Wednesday 1-0, and then falling to the Dash 3-2 on Sunday. The Spirit sit in eighth place in the league standings at 2-6-2 (8 points). The Spirit are winless on the road, but will get to return home on Saturday to host the Chicago Red Stars for the Game of the Week on Lifetime. Forward Ashley Hatch scored in both games for the Spirit and will likely be the offensive threat the team will turn to to get back to winning ways.


9

SKY BLUE FC
0-7-1, 1 pt

Change:
Last week: 9

Sky Blue FC dropped both of their games this week falling to the Spirit 1-0 on Wednesday and then to Seattle Reign FC 1-0 on Saturday. Sky Blue are still looking for their first win of the season and are in last place at 0-7-1 (1 point). The New Jersey team will next host Utah Royals FC on Saturday.

Ten NWSL players named to Canada roster for friendly vs. Germany

Canada will host Germany on June 10

Houston Dash forward Nichelle Prince and Utah Royals FC midfielder Desiree Scott. (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

Canada will face Germany on Sunday,  June 10, in Hamilton, Ontario, and on Tuesday Canada Soccer named their 20-woman roster for the match, with NWSL players making up half of those on the roster. The game will take place at Tim Hortons Field at 2 p.m. ET on June 10.

Lindsay Agnew (Houston Dash), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Shelina Zadorsky (Orlando Pride), Rebecca Quinn (Washington Spirit), Desiree Scott (Utah Royals FC), Diana Matheson (Utah Royals FC), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns FC), Janine Beckie (Sky Blue FC), Adriana Leon (Sky Blue FC) and Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash) have all been named to the roster.

Canada is currently ranked No. 4 in the world and Germany is No. 3. Germany is in the middle of their Women’s World Cup qualifying this year. Canada will take part in their qualifying in October, when Canada will be in Group B of the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship and play their group stage games in Edinburg, Texas.

Sinclair, who has 172 international goals, sits just 12 behind former U.S. women’s national team forward Abby Wambach’s all-time record of 184. Sinclair also leads the NWSL in goals this season with six and has added three assists.

“We are preparing for October’s 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship which serves as our FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification tournament, so this is a great opportunity to dig into our pipeline and give some additional young players an opportunity to be tested against one of the best teams in the world,” Canada head coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller said in a Canada Soccer news release.

Canada has called in just two goalkeepers — former NWSL goalkeepers Stephanie Labbé and Erin McLeod — meaning that Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan and Courage goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo (who has been out of late with a sprained ankle) are not on the roster this time around.

This season in the NWSL, Quinn has made six appearances in her rookie season, playing both midfielder and center back. Scott is among the league-leaders in passing accuracy this season at 81.76%. Chapman has played all 90 minutes in four straight games since being traded by North Carolina to Houston. She missed a few weeks earlier in the season with a hamstring strain.

Zadorsky has played every minute since being traded to the Pride in the offseason. Leon has seen limited minutes this season for Sky Blue FC since joining the team in the January dispersal draft, appearing in 33 minutes over two games as a substitute. Beckie has appeared in every match for Sky Blue FC. Matheson has a goal and an assist for Utah after returning from an ACL tear that forced her to miss all of 2017.

In Week 9 action, Prince recorded her second assist of the season (to go along with one goal) on Houston’s first goal in a win over Washington and Sinclair netted her sixth goal of the season in Portland’s 2-0 win over Utah.

Also on the roster are NCAA standouts Jessie Fleming (UCLA) and Deanne Rose (University of Florida).

 

Full Canada Roster:

GK Stephanie Labbe, age 31, from Stony Plain, AB/ Unattached

GK Erin McLeod, age 34, from St. Albert, AB/ USV Jena

FB Lindsay Agnew, age 23, from Kingston, ON/ Houston Dash (NWSL)

FB Allysha Chapman, age 29, from Courtice, ON/ Houston Dash (NWSL)

FB Ashley Lawrence, age 22, from Caledon, ON/Paris Saint German

FB Emma Regan, age 18, from North Vancouver, BC/ Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite/ Canada Soccer Regional EXCEL Super Centre (British Columbia)

CB Shannon Woeller, age 28, from Vancouver, BC/ FF USV Jena

CB Shelina Zadorsky, age 25, from London, ON/ Orlando Pride

CB Kadeisha Buchanan, age 22, from Brampton, ON/ Olympique Lyonnais

M/CB Rebecca Quinn, age 22, from Toronto, ON/ Washington Spirit

M Desiree Scott, age 30, from Winnipeg, MB/ Utah Royals FC

M Sophie Schmidt, age 29, from Abbotsford, BC/ FFC Frankfurt

M Jessie Fleming, age 20, from London, ON/UCLA

M Diana Matheson, age 34, from Oakville, ON/Utah Royals FC (NWSL)

M Julia Grosso, age 17, from Vancouver, BC / Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite/ Canada Soccer Regional EXCEL Super Centre (British Columbia)

F Christine Sinclair, age 34, from Burnaby, BC/ Portland Thorns (NWSL)

F Deanne Rose, age 19, from Alliston, ON/ University of Florida Gators (NCAA)

F Janine Beckie, age 23, from Highlands Ranch, CO/ Sky Blue FC (NWSL)

F Adriana Leon, age 25, from King City, ON/ Sky Blue FC (NWSL)

F Nichelle Prince, age 23, from Ajax, ON/ Houston Dash (NWSL)

Kristie Mewis to miss the rest of the season with left knee sprain

Mewis was injured Sunday night vs. the Spirit

Houston Dash midfielder Kristie Mewis has appeared in 102 NWSL games. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com)

Houston Dash midfielder Kristie Mewis has suffered a left knee sprain and will miss the rest of the season, the team announced on Monday. Mewis was injured on Sunday night in Houston’s 3-2 win over the Washington Spirit.

Mewis left Sunday’s game injured in the 19th minute. She initially went down in the 12th minute, but returned before leaving following a collision shortly after reentering the match.

Mewis originally started the season on defense, but moved back into midfield and scored two goals. Most recently, she scored the game-tying goal for the Dash in their 2-1 win over the Reign last Wednesday.

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.