They finished 1-2-3 in the June Player of the Month voting. They are leading the Golden Boot race. They have showed no signs of slowing down in July.
Here’s everything you need to know about three midseason MVP candidates: Sam Kerr, Marta and Megan Rapinoe.
Forward, Sky Blue FCBy the numbers:
Games Played: 13
Games Started: 12
Total Minutes: 1108
Shots on Goal: 27
Chances created: 20
Minutes per goal: 123.1
Team record: 7-6-1, 22 points, 3rd place
With Sky Blue FC down 2-0 in the 78th minute, Kerr — the two-time reigning NWSL Player of the Month (May/June) — finally got her team on the board. With Kelley O’Hara providing the service from the right wing, Kerr made her run behind Kansas City defender Becky Sauerbrunn. She timed it perfectly, finding the near post on a diving header and catching goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart going the wrong way. Three minutes later, Kerr provided the equalizer. Daphne Corboz provided the assist, as Kerr exploited the gap near the top of the box between FC Kansas City defenders Brittany Taylor and Yael Averbuch. Her low one-time right-footed shot beat Barnhart to the far post.
Kerr finished off the signature performance in the 90th minute, not just the game-winning goal, but the 35th career of her NWSL career and the new league record. Taylor Lytle fed the ball into the box, and after a screen from Maya Hayes to keep Averbuch from intercepting it, Kerr shielded her touch from Sauerbrunn, shook away and finished for the hat trick.
The memorable performance set a number of records:
- Eighth time in NWSL regular season history that a team rallied after trailing after the 75th minute.
- Second time in regular season history that a team recovered from a two goal deficit to win.
- 11th all-time hat trick, second-fastest hat trick, latest started hat trick, second hat trick in which all the goals came in the second half.
Kerr’s two goals and one assist in a 3-1 road win over Portland.
“Sam is playing at a different level right now. The most exciting thing about Sam is we truly believe there is still more to come from her. She is very young, and she is still very early in her development. These are the moments where she is proving to be one of the best players in the world. As her coach and as a fan, we could not be any prouder of her.”
Forward, Orlando Pride
By the numbers:
Games played: 12
Games started: 11
Total minutes: 1012
Goals: 8 (2 for 2 on PKs)
Shots on goal: 16
Chances created: 34
Minutes per goal: 126.5
Team record: 4-5-4, 16 points, 6th placeSignature Game:
Down 2-1 on the road to Sky Blue FC in the 77th minute, Marta received a pass just past midfield, dribbled forward for a few yards before passing to rookie Rachel Hill. Hill tapped it along to Steph Catley, making an overlapping run from the left wing and into the box. Catley’s cross to the center of the area was miscleared by Sky Blue defender Mandy Freeman and bounced right to Marta, who had snuck in near the penalty spot. Without waiting for the ball to drop, Marta one-timed it with her left foot, sending a low shot through three defenders and past Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan to tie the game.
Then on the game-winner in the 86th minute, Hill served a cross from the right wing that looked to be out of reach of any Pride players. As Sky Blue defender Kelley O’Hara went for the ball, Marta caught up with her, stole the ball, and ran back up the field, away from the endline. Catley made another overlapping run and Marta sent a backheel pass into the open space behind her. Catley then crossed it high into the six-yard box and Hill headed it home to give Orlando a 3-2 win. While she didn’t get an official assist for it, Marta’s bootprints are all over this play, and the victory.
It was the seventh time in NWSL regular season history that a team rallied for a win after trailing after the 75th minute.
Marta’s two goals, two assists, 91.7 passing accuracy performance in a 4-2 win over the Houston Dash.
Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni, following the 3-2 win over Sky Blue FC:
“[Marta] is such a good player. She is just such a wonderful player. She understands the game. She rarely makes a poor decision. And she’s just got a knack of being able to read the game ahead of other players. And that’s why she ends up in those situations.”
Forward, Seattle Reign FCBy the numbers:
Games played: 13
Games started: 13
Total minutes: 1150
Goals: 9 (3 for 3 on PKs)
Shots on goal: 22
Chances created: 31
Minutes per goal: 127.8
Team record: 5-3-5, 20 points, 4th placeSignature Game:
Following a red card issued to defender Lauren Barnes in the 4th minute, the Reign were forced to playing the remaining 86 minutes with just 10 players at home vs. FC Kansas City. It was a tough task made even tougher when Seattle gave up a goal in the 16th minute. But Megan Rapinoe was up to the challenge.
With the Reign trailing 1-0, the team stayed on the attack and Rapinoe forced a big save from goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart in the 49th minute. Two minutes later, her corner kick was flicked on by Jess Fishlock, forcing a defender goal line clearance. In the 58th minute, Rapinoe would finally help Seattle get on the board by serving a dangerous cross into the box. Kansas City’s Becky Sauerbrunn tried to head it away from trouble, but her clearance went straight towards the goal, forcing a diving save from Barnhart. The rebound fell right to Seattle’s Nahomi Kawasumi for the game-tying goal.
Rapinoe didn’t get credit for an assist on Kawasumi’s goal, but it wouldn’t have happened without her. She finished the game with three chances created, three key passes and four tackles — all while her team played with only 10 players.
Rapinoe’s two goal performance in Seattle’s 2-0 home win over Portland.
“There’s not many people in the world of women’s football who can put a ball in like [Rapinoe], where it’s, ‘Is it a shot? Is it a cross?’ And from a defending perspective … is the worst thing to defend. That indecision is what makes it difficult. That’s why [Sauerbrunn] flicked it, because she was like, ‘Am I going to flick this and [Barnhart’s] not going to be able to save it, or am I trying to head a cross away?’ … It’s what makes [Rapinoe] great to me. I’m never going to tell her what to do with the ball. She is who she is because she knows what to do. She knows her strengths, she can play off both feet. She’s always going to go for one in the game where she looks for something and it goes out for a throw, but she’ll get one right. Tonight she got more than one right, but the one we needed her to, we scored from.”