By: NWSL Editor
Week 1 Review: NWSL Pitch Notes

Below is a roundup of notes from Week 1 of NWSL regular season action.




The NWSL’s 2024 campaign kicked off Friday night with the 2024 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, as NJ/NY Gotham FC hosted San Diego Wave FC. The Wave won 1-0 in front of 14,241 fans, Gotham FC's second highest attendance ever recorded at Red Bull Arena. The regular season opened on Saturday as the Kansas City Current defeated Portland Thorns FC 5-4 in CPKC Stadium’s first sellout match, as 11,500 fans were on hand to watch the inaugural game at the first stadium purpose-built for a women’s professional sports team. The North Carolina Courage hosted the Houston Dash as 5,878 fans packed WakeMed Soccer Park to see a 5-1 home victory, setting a club record for opening weekend attendance. Utah Royals FC closed out Saturday night’s slate of games with their home opener against the Chicago Red Stars at America First Field. The Royals recorded their first sellout of the season, as 20,370 fans filled the stands. Angel City FC ended the weekend with a sellout home opener against Bay FC, as 22,000 supporters flocked to BMO Stadium to see the first matchup in the NWSL’s newest rivalry.



Current midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo had a tremendous game in CPKC Stadium’s opener, scoring the first goal in the stadium’s history, and the league’s first of the 2024 regular season, in the 22nd minute after recovering a loose ball in the box. After an unassisted strike from Current rookie defender Ellie Wheeler, DiBernardo recorded the first assist of the season in the 34th minute, finding Brazilian forward Bia Zaneratto for the goal. Wheeler and Zaneratto are also the first rookie and international player to score this season, respectively.


Continuing her electric play from the Concacaf W Gold Cup, Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher recorded five saves against the Utah Royals, earning the NWSL’s first clean sheet of the season.



Kansas City head coach Vlatko Andonovski led his club to a 5-4 victory in his first NWSL match since 2019, while Racing Louisville FC forced a 2-2 draw against the Orlando Pride in Bev Yanez’s head coaching debut. Chicago’s new head coach Lorne Donaldson won his league debut, leading the Red Stars to a 2-0 win against the Utah Royals and first-year head coach Amy Rodriguez. Bay FC’s Albertin Montoya, formerly an interim head coach for the Washington Spirit, took the helm in the first win in club history, defeating Angel City 1-0.


Kansas City Current forward Alex Pfeiffer made history with her goal in the 68th minute, becoming the NWSL’s youngest player to score in the regular season at 16 years and four months, reaching the milestone against the Portland Thorns and midfielder Olivia Moultrie, who previously held the record. Pfeiffer is the fourth teenager to score in her NWSL debut.


Many international players made their NWSL debuts this weekend, including Kansas City forward Bia Zaneratto, who scored her club’s third goal of the match. Zaneratto’s new teammate Temwa Chawinga made history, becoming the first Malawian international to play in the NWSL. Chawinga made an immediate impact off the bench, assisting on Pfeiffer’s goal just five minutes after subbing in. The Thorns scored four goals, with three international players earning an assist in their NWSL debut, including Canadian midfielder Jessie Fleming, Danish defender Isabella Obaze and German defender Marie Müller. Colombian forward Elexa Bahr had an impressive debut for Racing Louisville, scoring the club’s first goal of the season with a perfect chip over goalkeeper Anna Moorehouse’s head. Just five minutes later, Bahr recorded her first NWSL assist, setting up Nigerian forward Uchenna Kanu. Nigerian forward Asisat Oshoala made history in the 17th minute against Angel City, scoring the first goal in club history for Bay FC. Canadian international Lysianne Proulx earned the first start in net, propelling the expansion side to its first victory behind her first career shutout. Proulx recorded eight saves, tying a record for the most in an NWSL debut, set by AD Franch in 2013 with the Western New York Flash.


The 2024 NWSL Draft class is off to a strong start, as Kansas City Current defender Ellie Wheeler, the No. 18 overall pick in this year’s draft, scored just 25 minutes into her professional debut. Wheeler’s goal made her the 400th NWSL player to score a regular season goal. Racing Louisville forward Reilyn Turner also played a key role in her first game, assisting on Elexa Bahr’s goal in the 13th minute against Orlando. Red Stars forward Ally Cook, an undrafted rookie, earned an assist in her debut, finding forward Ava Cook for a goal in the 77th minute against Utah. The Washington Spirit started three rookies against Seattle Reign FC on Sunday, including first round picks Croix Bethune, Hal Hershfelt and Kate Wiesner. Rookies Makenna Morris and Courtney Brown both subbed in for the Spirit, each playing 38 minutes in their NWSL debuts.


The NWSL combined for 23 goals across opening weekend, with three players combining for six of that total. Reigning Golden Boot winner Sophia Smith scored twice for the Portland Thorns, earning her first brace of the season, while teammate Janine Beckie tallied two goals in her first game back after missing a year with a torn ACL. Forward Bianca St-Georges dazzled in her debut for the North Carolina Courage, scoring twice in her first appearance with the team. With her brace, St-Georges is just the third player in league history to score twice in a club debut.


Friday, March 15*

NJ/NY Gotham FC vs. San Diego Wave FC | 0 – 1 | Match Recap

*Challenge Cup does not count towards regular season standings

Saturday, March 16

Kansas City Current vs. Portland Thorns FC | 5 – 4 | Match Recap Racing Louisville FC vs. Orlando Pride | 2 – 2 | Match Recap North Carolina Courage vs. Houston Dash | 5 – 1 | Match Recap Utah Royals FC vs. Chicago Red Stars | 0 – 2 | Match Recap

Sunday, March 17

Seattle Reign FC vs. Washington Spirit | 1 – 0 | Match Recap Angel City FC vs. Bay FC | 0 – 1 | Match Recap

NWSL Pitch Notes