As international players returned to their respective NWSL teams this weekend, their playing time was limited. Depending on the team, many opted to sub in their returning players in an effort to manage minutes. Others, however, desperate to put three points on the table, started their top squad immediately. Former Cardinal across the league saw significant minutes and some even got their first start of the season.
On Saturday, the North Carolina Courage defeated OL Reign 2-1 despite a late worldie from Welsh superstar Jess Fishlock. Later the same day, the Chicago Red Stars tied the Washington Spirit 1-1, leaving both in the middle of the table.
On Sunday, Racing Louisville upset the Houston Dash with a 1-0 victory from an Ebony Salmon goal. Another close match took place between the Portland Thorns and Kansas City with the Thorns pulling out a 1-0 victory. The final match of the weekend took place between Orlando Pride and Gotham FC. The Pride continued their undefeated streak with a close 1-1 tie.
The OL Reign defeated the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 after two early goals on Tuesday.
Alana Cook and Sam Hiatt get the start for OL Reign on Saturday
After spending the previous 10 days in camp with the USWNT, former Cardinal Alana Cook ‘19 got straight into action with her new NWSL team the OL Reign. Cook, who just signed a three year contract with the team, was quick to make her way into the starting lineup alongside none other than former Stanford teammate, Sam Hiatt ‘19.
The center backs found themselves side by side for a majority of the game, dominating the back line and playing for their new keeper, Sarah Bouhaddi. Altogether, although the defensive efforts resulted in two conceded goals, the majority of the backline remained strong, especially considering it was the first minutes of play this season for the three of them.
Washington and Chicago end in a tie
After a hard fought match, the Chicago Red Stars tied the Washington Spirit 1-1. Getting the start on the Washington side was former Cardinal Tegan McGrady ‘19 and Andi Sullivan ‘18. On the Red Stars side, Tierna Davidson ‘19 started the game, once again showing her leadership on the back line.
The game itself was relatively tame, with goals from Trinity Rodman and Morgan Gautrat. The result was positive for both teams, putting Washington third on the table, and Chicago fifth. Both teams will likely be losing some of their key players going forward into the Olympics. The bottom goal: stay in the top six during the Olympic-period.
Campbell lets one in against Louisville
After returning from the USWNT, Jane Campbell ‘17 got the start for her club team. Although Campbell made multiple saves throughout the game, the Dash were unable to keep a clean sheet, allowing a goal from NWSL newcomer Ebony Salmon.
Salmon, who came over from Bristol City in the FA WSL, made her NWSL debut in the 71st minute. Salmon also scored her first NWSL goal in the 71st minute, putting Racing Louisville up and making an early mark on the franchise.
Despite only conceding a single goal, Campbell’s offense was unable to win back the game leaving the Dash eighth in the table. Sitting two spots from the bottom, the Dash will need to step up their game — a daunting task with the incoming absence of many international players.
Sophia Smith and Portland become level with Orlando on the table
After a 1-0 win over Kansas City, the Portland Thorns are now level with the Orlando Pride. Sophia Smith ‘22 was available off the bench for the Thorns after returning from the most recent USWNT camp.
Simone Charley scored the only goal for the Thorns in stoppage time after the first half. The goal came from a beautiful pass from Crystal Dunn and a costly mistake from the Kansas City back line.
Smith took Charley’s place for the second half but was unable to put another point on the board.
Ali Riley and the Pride remain undefeated
After another tie, the Orlando Pride are still undefeated and sitting at the top of the table. Ali Riley ‘10 once again started in the back line for the Pride, proving game after game her importance to the new DNA of this team.
Despite a Gotham goal at the end of the first half, Orlando was not ready to give up. In the 70th minute, Ashlyn Harris made a huge save to keep her team in the game. With the save, the momentum of the game completely changed. Defender Courtney Peterson scored her first NWSL goal to bring the Pride back to level with Gotham with only a few minutes left in the game, . This unlikely goal was just another example of the Pride’s drive to master their own fate.
Coming up this week
The USWNT roster was released Wednesday, letting teams know which spots they will need to fill.
On Wednesday evening, the Pride will face Kansas City while Racing Louisville will take on the North Carolina Courage.
Saturday will be a full day of soccer with five matches. To start off the day, the Chicago Red Stars will take on Racing Louisville. Next up, OL Reign will face Gotham FC, then North Carolina will take on the Portland Thorns.
To wrap up the night, the Houston Dash will attempt to serve the Orlando Pride their first loss. Closing out the night, Kansas City will play the Washington Spirit.