The fourth week of the National Women’s Soccer League 2019 season is in the books and it consisted of one team staying perfect on the season, two scoreless draws and one team continuing to search for answers.
Week 4 Recap
Utah Royals FC got the weekend’s action started on Friday, May 3, on their home pitch against the Chicago Red Stars. The result was a tight match that was decided at the 84th minute when Royals FC attacker Amy Rodriguez took a pass from Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir and laid out to send it past Red Stars keeper Emily Boyd for the match’s lone goal.
Utah has now moved to 3-0-0 on the season and recorded a perfect nine points. Keeper Nicole Barnhardt and the Royals defense have yet to allow a goal on the season, putting Utah in prime position to be the favorite for the league’s best defensive team early in the season.
On Saturday, May 4, the force was just as strong with four more NWSL sides’ defense and keeping as it was with Utah’s.
The Seattle Reign visited the Washington Spirit and Spirit keeper showed Aubrey Bledsoe put on a Jedi-like display, notching nine saves to keep the Reign off the board. Reign keeper Michelle Betos made four saves herself and the match ended in a 0-0 draw.
The defensive prowess put on display in Saturday’s nightcap was no less impressive. Sky Blue FC visited the defending league champion North Carolina Courage and North Carolina stayed unbeaten on the season thanks to keeper Stephanie Labbé’s two saves. The best defensive play of the night came from Courage defender Merritt Mathias in the 90th minute, however.
Sunday’s finish to the Week pit the Orlando Pride and Houston Dash against each other, with Orlando seeking its first victory of the season. The Dash held the Pride without a shot on goal for the entire 90 minutes on their home pitch and got all they needed for the victory when Sofia Huerta found Kealia Ohai in the match’s seventh minute.
League Standings After Week 4
After four weeks of matches, only four points separate the first and fifth-place teams in the league standings.
1. Utah Royals FC – 9 (3-0-0)
2. North Carolina Courage – 8 (2-0-2)
3. Houston Dash – 7 (2-1-1)
4. Portland Thorns FC – 5 (1-0-2)
5. Chicago Red Stars – 5 (1-1-2)
6. Washington Spirit – 4 (1-1-1)
7. Reign FC – 3 (0-1-3)
8. Sky Blue FC – 2 (0-2-2)
9. Orlando Pride – 1 (0-4-1)
Through the first four weeks, the North Carolina Courage led by attacker Lynn Williams is leading the league in putting a constant barrage on opponents’ nets.
Williams leads the league in assists (two), shots (18), shots on goal (10) and is third in the league in goals (two). The Courage as a team has amassed 10 goals through their first four games, coming on 72 shots, 35 of those which have been on goal. All those marks lead the league. Williams’ teammate Crystal Dunn leads the league in individual goals with four.
Sky Blue FC’s Kailen Sheridan leads all keepers in the league in saves with 19 and Portland Thorns FC is tops in the league in assists at six. These players and teams will have a chance to add to those totals in Week 5.
Week 5 Schedule
Both North Carolina and Utah will put their unbeaten records on the line in Week 5 as four more matches fill the schedule. It will be an important week for the Courage especially, as it has the chance to tie the league record for consecutive regular-season matches without a loss. All times listed are Eastern and matches can be streamed live for free on Yahoo! Sports.
Saturday, May 11
Washington Spirit at Sky Blue FC, 3 p.m.
Houston Dash at Utah Royals FC, 3:30 p.m.
Portland Thorns FC at Orlando Pride, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 12
North Carolina Courage at Chicago Red Stars, 6 p.m.
While many fans of “The Beautiful Game” await the start of play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in June, there is no reason to delay. That same level of play can be enjoyed right now in the NWSL.