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NWSL Week 3: A Look Back

Photo by the Chicago Red Stars


The third week of the National Women’s Soccer League was the last chance for U.S. Women’s National Team players to step away on a high note as they prepare for the Women’s World Cup this summer.

With that on the line, some players that could use the biggest boosts as the jostle for a USWNT starting spot delivered: Christen Press again scored a huge brace, Amy Rodriguez scored a game-winner and Julie Johnston made a crucial goal-line save.

Just the same, the talent that will stick around for the summer provided some of the best highlights, including Jessica McDonald scoring a couple of the best goals from the slate of teams that were denied points this week.

Here is a look back at this week’s NWSL action:


Reigning NWSL champs FC Kansas City spent their two first weeks of the season struggling with two back-to-back losses. Coach Vlatko Andonovski set out to turn the tide on Thursday by giving forward Sarah Hagen her first start up top alongside Amy Rodriguez against the Seattle Reign.

It worked — the pair combined for the match’s lone goal to give Kansas City their first win of the season in front of a home crowd of 2,466. Four minutes into the second half, Hagen fed Rodriguez a ball to run onto, and Rodriguez went one-on-one with goalkeeper Hope Solo, chipping it over Solo’s head.

Rodriguez nearly scored in the 37th minute, one-timing a cross from Erika Tymrak, instead her shot rattling the crossbar. Hagen was denied by the woodwork in the 59th minute, calmly cutting through the Reign defense and firing a shot that bounced off the far post.

The win pulled Kansas City out of the basement as the Reign look like a shadow of the team that went 17 matches into last season before suffering a first loss.

Here are the match highlights:


Christen Press looked poised to play hero again for the Chicago Red Stars, tallying a brace inside just eight minutes on Saturday — but the Portland Thorns rallied to draw on the road, 2-2, in front of 2,136 fans at Benedictine University.

In her final club match before joining the USWNT for the Women’s World Cup this summer, Press offered a glimpse into the kind of threat she poses and continued a red-hot scoring streak of four goals in two matches to open her club season.

In the 4th minute, Press caught the Thorns defense off guard with a blast from some 20 yards out. Another four minutes later, she cut out to the edge of the box and swiveled a shot in near the far post. She nearly nabbed a hat trick in the 18th minute from 25 yards out, but goalkeeper Nadine Angerer dived to knock the shot wide with her fingertips.

Canadian striker Christine Sinclair started the Thorns comeback with a precise goal in the 28th minute. Near the top of the box in heavy traffic, she cut inside with a sliding finish to tuck the ball just inside the far post. Mana Shim grabbed the equalizer in the 46th minute, collecting a loose clearance and launching a blast through a crowded 18-yard box.

Another Canada-bound player departs for the World Cup in fine form, with U.S. defender Julie Johnston making a crucial goal-line clearance with her head in the 11th minute when Shim had Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc beat.

The Thorns remain at the top of the league standings while the Thorns, along with the Red Stars with a game in hand, are the only two undefeated teams in the league.

Here are the match highlights:


A well-placed free kick and a chaotic six-yard box scramble to force an own goal was enough for the Boston Breakers to break their deadlock with the Houston Dash on Sunday. The 72nd-minute Dash own goal the bounced around and off Carli Lloyd handed the Breakers their first points of the season in front of 2,376 fans at Harvard University.

The Breakers started off scoring in the eighth minute in a messy box as defender Julie King got a toe on a loose ball. Canadian international Nkem Ezurike doubled their lead in the 31st minute, finishing a Stephanie McCaffrey service into the box from the endline.

Jessica McDonald, who led last year’s Portland Thorns in goals before being traded to Houston in the offseason, scored both of the Dash’s goals in a rally to pull even.

In the 35th minute, a long cross from Kealia Ohai was met by an unmarked McDonald, who headed it home on the far post. In the 67th minute, Morgan Brian sent a long ball to McDonald on the counter and McDonald one-timed the ball off the bounce over goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who came way off her line to cut off the pass.

With a game in hand, the Breakers move out of the basement to seventh as the Dash move into a three-way tie midway through the league table.

Here are the match highlights:


Crystal Dunn may have been one of the two players to be cut from the USWNT before this summer’s World Cup in Canada, but she is making her mark on the club level, scoring a brace on Sunday to give her three goals in as many games this season. Dunn’s two goals Sunday led the Washington Spirit to a 3-1 win over New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC before a small crowd of 753 at Rutgers University.

On a slick give-and-go with Francisca Ordega, Dunn slid into the final pass to beat goalkeeper Brittany Cameron in the 6th minute. Dunn returned in the 40th minute from the same spot on the pitch — Cameron blocked her first shot, but Dunn one-timed the deflection into the vacant net.

Sky Blue’s most potent threats combined for their lone goal in the 62nd minute that was too little, too late. Nadia Nadim chipped a pass in from the edge of the six-yard box and Katy Freels cleanly headed it home.

Christine Nairn added the Spirit’s third goal in the 48th minute, running onto a Ordega cross.

The Spirit move into second on the league table while Sky Blue are deadlocked for the middle three spots.

Here are the match highlights:


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