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By: NWSL Editor
NWSL International Insights

A look at the top performances around the league by international players, updated weekly

Last Updated May 21, 2024

WEEK 9: May 17-19

SUGITA TO DIAS

The Portland Thorns forward Ana Dias (Portugal) notched her first NWSL goal in a 2-0 win against the Houston Dash making her the first Portugal international to score in the league this year. Midfielder Hina Sugita (Japan) notched her third assist in her last five matches and 10th career regular season assist. Sugita is the ninth Thorns player to reach double digit assists for the club.

BANDA WANTS MORE

The Orlando Pride extended its impressive unbeaten streak and seventh straight win over the Seattle Reign thanks to forward Barbra Banda (Zambia) who has now scored in four of five starts and is tied for the fourth most single season goals for the club in six games. Banda sits comfortably in second place on the golden boot standings two goals behind Portland Thorns forward Sophia Smith.

DEBINHA ASSIST

Kansas City Current forward Debinha (Brazil) notched her 20th career regular season assist making her just 18th player to reach that milestone and the 13th player to achieve a career 20 goals and 20 assists.

WEEK 8: May 8-12

DEBINHA STRIKES

Kansas City Current midfielder Debinha (Brazil) tallied her 45th regular season goal remaining 9th in NWSL history for goals scored. This marked her first goal against her former club in the 1-0 win to help Kansas City stay unbeaten to start the 2024 campaign.

HINA SU-GOAL

With her third goal of season, Portland Thorns midfielder Hina Sugita (Japan) jumps to 10th on the Golden Boot chart, thanks to her two assists. Sugita helped Portland beat the Seattle Reign 4-0 in the Cascadia rivalry.

LUNDVKIST’S FIRSTS

San Diego Wave defender Hanna Lundvkist (Sweden) notched her first goal of the season in the 64th minute to bring the Wave level with east coast rivals and 2023 NWSL Champions Gotham FC in a 1-1 draw.

ANDRESSA ASSIST

Houston Dash midfielder Andressa Alves (Brazil) notched her first assist of the season in a thrilling late game-winning goal from defender Paige Nielsen against Angel City FC, Nielsen’s previous club.

ADRIANA FROM THE SPOT

Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda (Zambia) drew her second penalty of the season that gave way for teammate Adriana (Brazil) to calmly put the ball in the back of the net for her first goal of the season. The goal was all that was needed to keep the Pride’s unbeaten streak alive to begin the 2024 campaign.

WEEK 7: May 1-5

BANDA ON ATTACK

Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda (Zambia) scored in three straight games for the Pride continuing a hot start to her NWSL career. Banda assisted Pride forward Ally Watt’s third career goal and notched a goal herself in the Pride’s win against the North Carolina Courage on May 1. Banda is also the first player in NWSL history to record a goal and an assist in each of her first two career starts. Through Week 7 she has four goals and two assists.

BERGER KEEPER
Gotham FC goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger (Germany) is just the third German national team keeper to play in NWSL after Nadine Angerer played for the Portland Thorns and Almuth Schult with Angel City FC.

SUGITA THE ASSIST

Portland Thorns midfielder Hina Sugita (Japan) tallied her second assist of the season putting her with nine career regular season assists with the Thorns in the club’s 2-1 win against the Washington Spirit on May 4.

SINCLAIR THE GOAT

Portland Thorns forward Christine Sinclair (Canada) notched her 64th career regular season goal for the Portland Thorns on May 4. No player has more goals for one club than Sinclair.

EMSLIE KEEPS THE STREAK

Angel City FC forward Claire Emslie (Scotland) is the first player for Angel City to score in three consecutive games. Most recently she scored in Angel City’s 2-1 win against the Utah Royals on May 3.

DANA FOEDERER GOAL

Utah Royals midfielder Dana Foederer (Netherlands) is the first Dutch player to score in NWSL since 2016. She scored her first NWSL goal in the Royals’ 2-1 home loss to Angel City.

WEEK 6: April 26-29

EMSLIE AGAIN

Angel City FC forward Claire Emslie (Scotland) recorded her third goal in two games as she opened the scoring in the rematch against the Kansas City Current at BMO Stadium.

AFRICAN SCORE

The 11 goals that have been scored by African players in 2024 are the most in a single year in NWSL history.

LAVOGEZ BRACE

Midfielder Claire Lavogez (France) notched her first brace of her NWSL career for the Kansas City Current propelling the club to a 3-1 win over Angel City FC.

ORLANDO CONNECTION

Orlando Pride midfielder Angelina (Brazil) recorded her first goal for the Pride from forward Barbra Banda’s (Zambia) first NWSL assist. Banda went on to notch her first goal of her NWSL career making her the seventh player in NWSL history to record a goal and an assist in her first career regular-season start.

BRAZILIANS IN THE LEAGUE

No club has rostered more Brazilian players than the Orlando Pride with 10 players all-time including the five that are rostered this season. Nine out of 14 clubs currently in the NWSL have rostered at least one Brazilian.

ZANERATTO ASSIST

Kansas City Current midfielder Bia Zaneratto jumped onto the leaderboard as she became the first player in Current history to contribute to at least one goal in four straight appearances and she joins teammate midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo in leading the league in assists with three and four assists, respectively.

WEEK 5: April 19-21

PRIDE PERFORMANCES

Orlando Pride forward and Zambian international Barbra Banda made her long awaited NWSL debut against San Diego taking three shots total, two on goal. Defender Rafaelle (Brazil) also came on as a second half substitute, her first appearance of the season after healing from a preseason injury.

KANU CAN SCORE

Racing Louisville forward Uchenna Kanu (Nigeria) recorded her fourth goal in five matches and helped secure Racing Louisville’s record 5-1 win over the Utah Royals.

BIA AND CHAWINGA UNSTOPPABLE

Kansas City Current forwards Bia Zaneratto (Brazil) and Temwa Chawinga (Malawi) joined the scoring fun also securing each of their fourth goals in five matches along with their first braces of the season. Bia and Chawinga are now tied for first in the golden boot race each with four goals and two assists in the 2024 campaign. They each have six goal contributions in five games

SINCLAIR SHOOTS

Portland Thorns forward Christine Sinclair (Canada) notches her 63rd regular season goal of her career all with the Portland Thorns. Her next goal will tie Gotham FC forward Lynn Williams for second most in league history in the regular season however, no one has more with one club. Sinclair is the only player to score in all 11 NWSL regular seasons.

SCHMIDT SHINES

Houston Dash midfielder Sophie Schmidt (Canada) is well past the 10,000-minute mark and is the fourth Canadian and 46th player overall to reach this regular season milestone.

EMSLIE BRACE

Angel City FC forward Claire Emslie (Scotland) recorded her first brace of the season in a win against the North Carolina Courage. Her first goal came off a free kick just outside the box bending the ball around the outstretched hands of Casey Murphy and her second goal came after Emslie found herself outside the box again chipping the keeper to find the back of the net.

WEEK 4: April 12-14

CHAWINGA TO BIA CONNECTION

The Kansas City Current forwards Temwa Chawinga (Malawi) and Bia Zaneratto (Brazil) have solidified a successful chemistry after they connected on a goal for the second-straight match. The Current continue to hold the record for the most goals in the league with 12 tallies from nine different players so far. Both Chawinga and Bia have four goal contributions in their first four career games.

CLAIRE’S CREATION

Angel City FC forward Claire Emslie (Scotland) has created a league-high 17 chances for teammates so far this season, including seven from corner kicks. Emslie took three corner kicks and created two chances against the Chicago Red Stars in their 1-0 win.

ESTHER’S HEADER

Gotham FC forward Esther González (Spain) came up big early in the second half, scoring Gotham FC’s first home goal of the season off a header on the back post that lofted the ball over Kansas City Current goalkeeper AD Franch’s hands.

CONTINUING THE ATTACK

The exciting Sunday night NWSL After Dark action started early after both Bay FC forwards Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria) and Racheal Kundananji (Zambia) made multiple breakaway runs that Reign FC goalkeeper Claudia Dickey had to block or send over the bar. Bay FC outshot Seattle, 23-8, including nine combined shots for both African forwards.

JOIN THE BANDA WAGON

Barba Banda, the newest Zambian forward to join the NWSL, touched down in sunny Orlando, Florida on Sunday, April 14, greeted by fans excitedly awaiting her arrival at the airport. The Orlando Pride’s signing of Banda marked another record-breaking deal for the NWSL. Banda comes to Orlando after scoring 41 goals across 52 contests with the Shanghai Shengli. She has yet to debut for the Pride this season.

WEEK 3: MARCH 29-31

SAN DIEGO STARS

Australian midfielder Emily van Egmond was the hero for the San Diego Wave, scoring in the 98th minute to secure the club’s first win of the regular season against Seattle. Her goal is the Wave’s latest in regular season history. Swedish defender Hanna Lundkvist and Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan were also key players in San Diego’s victory. Lundkvist completed 29 of 37 passes while recording 10 possessions won and a game-high two blocks. Sheridan, who earned nine clean sheets last season, notched her first of the 2024 regular season, recording two saves.

KC FOR THREE

The Kansas City Current earned their league-leading third win on Saturday against Angel City, as international stars led the way to victory. Temwa Chawinga and Brazilian forward Bia Zaneratto each recorded a goal and an assist, as Chawinga became the first player from Malawi to score in the NWSL. Sydney Leroux scored for Angel City, with Scottish forward Claire Emslie earning an assist.

BRACING LOUISVILLE

Racing Louisville FC’s Uchenna Kanu tallied the fastest brace in NWSL history on Saturday, scoring twice in the first six minutes of a draw against the Portland Thorns. The Nigerian forward struck first in the third minute, recovering a loose ball in the box and firing a shot off the post and into the net. Kanu scored her second goal in the sixth minute, converting a header as rookie Reilyn Turner earned her second career assist.

PAYPAL PARK PANDEMONIUM

Bay FC’s first-ever home match at PayPal Park against the Houston Dash was a must-see game, as the clubs combined for five goals. Venezuelan midfielder Deyna Castellanos started the scoring in the 19th minute, firing a shot off the crossbar for her first NWSL goal. Houston responded with consecutive goals from forward Diana Ordóñez in the 66th and 87th minutes, with an assist from her Mexican Women’s National Team teammate María Sánchez. Bay FC tied the game in the 93rd minute, as Racheal Kundananji, the first Zambian player to play in the NWSL, recorded her first goal of the season. Midfielder Havana Solaun, a mainstay for Jamaica’s Women’s National Team, scored the game-winning goal 10 minutes into second half stoppage time.

SUNDAY SCORES

French forward Ouleymata Sarr scored her first goal of the season for the Washington Spirit, leading her club to a 2-1 victory against the Utah Royals in a Sunday matinee. Utah’s lone goal was scored by rookie Ally Sentnor, as Dutch midfielder Dana Foederer recorded her first NWSL assist along with two shots on target and three tackles won.

WEEK 2: MARCH 22-24

SET PIECE SUCCESS

The Orlando Pride and Angel City drew, 1-1, in their Week 2 matchup, as both clubs scored from set pieces. An early Orlando error in the second half set up Scottish forward Claire Emslie with a penalty kick in the 53rd minute, which she buried for the visiting Angel City. A pair of Brazilian international teammates connected for the equalizing goal in the 88th minute, as a corner kick for midfielder Angelina allowed Marta to score a beautiful goal, the 32nd of her NWSL career.

THRICE AS NICE

Three international players scored their first NWSL goals as the Red Stars defeated the Reign, 2-1, in the club’s 2024 home opener. Brazilian midfielder Julia Bianchi, who led Chicago in assists last season (5), scored her first NWSL goal in the 42nd minute to give her the club the lead heading into the half. Reign midfielder Ji So-Yun played a bouncing ball in the 62nd minute, lifting it over Alyssa Naeher to become first Korean player to score in the NWSL. German defender Maxi Rall secured the win for Chicago with her first NWSL goal in the 68th minute.

ASISAT’S ASSIST

After scoring the game-winner in her NWSL debut for Bay FC last week, Nigerian forward Asisat Oshoala earned her first NWSL assist against Washington in Week 2, setting up former Spirit midfielder Dorian Bailey for the goal against her former team in the 11th minute.

WORLD CUP STARS

San Diego Wave forward Sofia Jakobsson, who recorded two assists for Sweden in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, scored her first goal of the season in San Diego’s home opener against the Kansas City Current. Meanwhile, Gotham FC’s Esther, who won the World Cup last year with Spain, scored the game-winning goal in her club’s 2024 regular season debut, striking in the 72nd minute to earn the win for her club.

WEEK 1: MARCH 16-17

FIRST FOREIGN FRENZY

The 2024 regular season started with an electric nine-goal game, as the Kansas City Current defeated Portland Thorns FC, 5-4, in the first-ever match at CPKC Stadium. Brazilian forward Bia Zaneratto scored Kansas City’s third goal of the game in her league debut, while forward Tema Chawinga, the first Malawian international to play in the NWSL, assisted Alex Pfeiffer’s goal just five minutes after subbing in. Canadian forward Janine Beckie notched two goals for Portland in her return from a year-long absence due to injury, while three of the Thorns’ four goals were assisted by internationals making their NWSL debuts, including Canadian National Team captain Jessie Fleming. Fleming assisted the first of two goals for Sophia Smith, while Beckie found the back of the net with assists from Danish defender Isabella Obaze and German defender Marie Müller.

RAISING THE BAHR

Colombian forward Elexa Bahr made an instant impact for Racing Louisville FC, scoring just 13 minutes into her NWSL debut with an impressive chip. Bahr, a Georgia native, earned her first NWSL assist on a goal from Nigerian forward Uchenna Kanu in the 19th minute. Canadian international Amanda Allen helped the Orlando Pride come back to force a draw with her assist on Summer Yates’ goal in the 86th minute.

COURAGE COUNTRIES

The North Carolina Courage scored five goals against the Houston Dash, including two by Canadian forward Bianca St-Georges in her first match with the club. St-Georges' first goal was assisted by Japanese midfielder Manaka Matsukubo. Canadian midfielder Victoria Pickett assisted the final goal of the match, scored by former Angel City FC midfielder Dani Weatherholt. German defender Feli Rauch played every minute for the Courage in her NWSL debut, completing over 90% of her passes while recording 84 touches and eight possessions won.

RED STARS RUNNING

Three internationals played the entire match for the Chicago Red Stars in a win against Utah Royals FC. Finnish defender Natalia Kuikka completed 25 passes and totaled six possessions won in her Red Stars debut, while German defender Maxi Rall completed eight passes in the final third and recorded a game-high three blocks in her first NWSL appearance. Brazilian midfielder Julia Bianchi led both sides in tackles (4) and possessions won (11).

BAY’S BRILLIANCE

Nigerian forward Asisat Oshoala was excellent in her NWSL debut, scoring the game-winning goal in Bay FC’s 1-0 win against Angel City. Her shot, a rocket over the head of Angelina Anderson, earned her the first Goal of the Week honor of 2024, as voted on by fans. Canadian keeper Lysianne Proulx also had a stellar debut for the expansion side, earning a shutout with 10 saves, the most by any player in an NWSL debut.