While the eyes of women’s soccer fans stateside may have been glued to Exploria Stadium in recent leagues, veteran and newcomers alike to the National Women’s Soccer League featured in friendlies across the world as international sides returned to competitive action for the first time in 2021.
Rachel Daly scores as Lionesses breeze past Northern Ireland
In their first match since falling to Spain at the end of their 2020 SheBelieves Cup run, the Lionesses were back in action last Tuesday against neighbouring Northern Ireland. The hosts won, 6-0, with Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly tapping in a Lucy Bronze cross for the fifth goal of the afternoon.
Thorns’ Natalie Kuikka leads Finland to two shutouts, Euro 2022 qualification
Elsewhere in Europe, Finland earned their first UEFA Women’s Championship qualification since 2013 with a commanding pair of shutout victories against Portugal and Cyprus. Recent Portland Thorns signing Natalie Kuikka, who is an alumnus of Florida State University, completed the full ninety minutes in the Finnish defense in both wins.
KC’s Rachel Corsie captains Scotland in Euro qualifying defeat
Kansas City defender Rachel Corsie played all ninety minutes for Scotland on February 23rd, but the match ended in heartbreak as the “home” side fell in Cyprus to Portugal 2-0, ending their bid to qualify for next summer’s European Championships.
Spirit’s Julia Roddar features for Sweden against Malta
Rounding out the action in Europe was newly acquired Washington Spirit midfielder Julia Roddar and the Swedish National Team. Roddar was an unused substitute in the 6-1 victory over Austria on February 19th but started and played sixty-three minutes in a 3-0 victory over Malta four days later.
Raquel Rodriguez sees time in pair of friendlies for ‘La Sele’ against Mexico
Returning to competitive action for the first time since Olympic Qualifying last winter, Costa Rica played Mexico in a pair of friendlies – losing the first, 3-1, and battling to a scoreless draw in the second. Portland Thorns midfielder Raquel Rodriguez earned substitute appearances for La Sele in both friendly matches.