The weekly changing of the guard in a league full of parity continued in Week 7 of the NWSL season with yet another new team taking over the top spot in the standings with a big win. This week it was the Washington Spirit’s turn to bask in the spotlight.
Portland Thorns FC 1, Sky Blue FC 0
The first match of Week 7 gave Sky Blue FC another opportunity to nab its first victory of the season but unfortunately for them, they hosted a side which was coming off its first loss of the season in Portland Thorns FC and was looking to get the sour taste out of its mouth. Portland’s backfield only allowed Sky Blue FC to attempt one shot on goal and striker Margaret Purce scored in the 69th minute to give the Thorns three points in this one.
Utah Royals FC 2, Orlando Pride 0
Saturday’s nightcap kept with the theme of keeping winless sides in that position as Utah Royals FC hosted the Orlando Pride and shut them out on their home pitch. Orlando did manage to get four shots on goal during the match but Utah keeper Nicole Barnhardt made three saves to deliver a clean sheet, making a penalty kick goal by forward Amy Rodriguez at 31′ and another goal by striker Makenzy Doniak at 89′ more than enough to get the win.
Washington Spirit 2, Chicago Red Stars 0
Sunday night’s match featured a Chicago Red Stars side with a lot of momentum, having just propelled themselves atop the standings in Week 6. Washington quelled that momentum, pitching the week’s third shutout in as many matches. It’s the third straight victory for a much-improved Washington side that only won two matches in the 2018 season.
Spirit keeper Audrey Bledsoe notched seven saves to preserve the shutout, making an own goal by Chicago at 9′ all it needed to win. In the 63rd minute, forward Arielle Ship found forward Ashley Hatch for an insurance goal.
Reign FC 2, North Carolina Courage 1
On Memorial Day Reign FC pulled itself into the middle of the league standings by limiting the effectiveness of the North Carolina Courage attack. Defender Kristen McNabb found forward Bethany Balcer 13 minutes into the match to put Reign FC ahead then attacking midfielder Shea Groom padded the Reign lead at 86′. Defender Jaelene Hinkle got an assist at 89′ when defender Abby Erceg got North Carolina on the board.
League Standings After Week 7
With the win, Washington vaunts itself past Portland into a tie in points for first place in the league standings. Another team could easily take that spot again next week, as only three points separate first and fifth place in the current standings.
1. Utah Royals 13 (4-1-1)
2. Washington Spirit 13 (4-1-1)
3. Portland Thorns FC 11 (3-1-2)
4. Chicago Red Stars 11 (3-2-2)
5. Houston Dash 10 (3-2-1)
6. Reign FC 9 (2-1-3)
7. North Carolina Courage 9 (2-2-3)
8. Sky Blue FC 2 (0-5-2)
9. Orlando Pride 1 (0-6-1)
Schedule for Week 8
June and the eighth week of the NWSL season begin with the match of the year up to this point, as the two teams currently tied in points atop the standings will face each other. All times listed are Eastern and all matches can be streamed live for free on Yahoo! Sports.
Saturday, June 1
Utah Royals FC at Washington Spirit, 7 p.m.
North Carolina Courage at Orlando Pride, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 2
Houston Dash at Reign FC, 4 p.m.
Chicago Red Stars at Portland Thorns FC, 6 p.m.