The fifth week of the National Women’s Soccer League regular season was a new experience for a Utah Royals FC side that previously looked impenetrable.
Utah visited the Houston Dash on Saturday, May 11, with a perfect 3-0-0 record and had yet to allow a goal on the season. The Dash, just two points behind the Royals after Week 4, were looking to overtake Utah in the standings with a win on their home pitch.
Houston managed to not only be the first team to defy the Royals’ backfield but do so twice en route to a 2-1 victory. It was quite a day for Dash forward Rachel Daly, who netted both goals for Houston. Her first came at the 42nd minute and the second eight minutes later. She was assisted on the second by Arianna Jeanette Romero Tellez. Amy Rodriguez scored the lone goal for Utah, assisted by Veronica Boquete Giadans at the 29th minute.
The first match on Saturday was a similarly close affair. The Washington Spirit visited Sky Blue FC and thanks to another two-goal game the Spirit got the road win 3-2. Cheyna Matthews found the net at the 22nd and 68th minutes to counter goals by Sky Blue’s Raquel Rodriguez (32′) and Imani Dorsey (80′). Jordan Dibasi’s 55th-minute goal tipped the balance in Washington’s favor. Amy Harrison and Cali Farquharson got assists for Washington, while Amandine Pierre-Louis and Savannah McCaskill did the same for Sky Blue.
The final match on Saturday had fans far less on the edge of their seats, as Portland Thorns FC kept the Orlando Pride winless on the season 3-1 while keeping their own record without a loss as well. It looked promising for Orlando early, when at the 10th minute Carson Pickett found Toni Pressley for a go-ahead goal. Portland got the equalizer 18 minutes later from Dagny Brynjarsdóttir, then went ahead at the 36th minute thanks to a goal by Adressinha. The final goal of the game was scored by Caitlin Ford at the 57th minute.
Sunday evening’s cap to the weekend pit the Chicago Red Stars against one of the only two remaining unbeaten sides in the league, the North Carolina Courage. North Carolina was on the verge of tying an NWSL record, having gone through its last 15 consecutive matches without a loss. The record would stand unmatched, however, as Chicago would stymie the previously explosive Courage attack and defend its home pitch 3-1. The three Red Stars goals were netted by Sam Kerr (13′, 90+3′) and Michele Vasconcellos (40′, assisted by Kerr). Lynn Williams found the net for North Carolina, assisted by Merritt Mathias, in the 33rd minute.
Standings After Week 5
Houston jumped into first place in the league and the overall standings got tighter as only three points separate first from sixth place in the standings heading into Week 6.
1. Houston Dash – 10 (3-1-1)
2. Utah Royals FC – 9 (3-1-0)
3. Chicago Red Stars – 8 (2-1-2)
4. North Carolina Courage 8 (2-1-2)
5. Portland Thorns FC – 8 (2-0-2)
6. Washington Spirit – 7 (2-1-1)
7. Reign FC – 3 (0-1-3)
8. Sky Blue FC – 2 (0-3-2)
9. Orlando Pride – 1 (0-5-1)
Week 6 Schedule
Another four matches on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19 will feature an opportunity for either Reign FC or Sky Blue FC to get its first win of the season in addition to Portland Thorns FC seeking to keep its record without a loss. All times listed are Eastern and matches can be streamed for free live on Yahoo! Sports.
Saturday, May 18
Reign FC at Sky Blue FC, 4 p.m.
Washington Spirit at Portland Thorns FC, 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 19
North Carolina Courage at Utah Royals FC, 5 p.m.
Houston Dash at Chicago Red Stars, 6 p.m.
The biggest women’s football matches in North America are in the NWSL and the fifth weekof the NWSL season was more evidence toward that conclusion.