Many of the best female footballers in the world will soon descend upon France for the FIFA World Cup but prior to that, some of that contingent had other business to conduct in the eighth week of the 2019 NWSL regular season.
Washington Spirit 2, Utah Royals FC 0
Tied atop the standings after Week 7, these two sides met up in Utah to determine which team would isolate itself as the league’s best heading into June. It was clear that Washington deserved that billing in its fourth consecutive win that will keep it in first place until at least June 15. Washington striker Ashley Hatch got the Spirit on the board at 23′ off a pass from defender Tori Huster then at 70′ Washington midfielder Dorian Bailey scored the first goal of her NWSL career. Royals striker Amy Rodriguez, who had netted a goal in four consecutive matches, failed to keep her streak going.
North Carolina Courage 3, Orlando Pride 0
North Carolina got off its four-match winless streak thanks to midfielder Kristen Hamilton. Her hat trick came at 59′, 66′ and 85′. Courage keeper Samantha Leshnak turned in a clean sheet in her NWSL debut to keep Orlando winless on the season. The Pride haven’t scored a goal since May 11 and have been shutout in six of their eight matches as they continue to search for answers. Striker Leah Pruitt and defender Jaeline Hinkle each recorded assists for the Courage.
Reign FC 1, Houston Dash 1
Reign FC midfielder Bethany Balcer continued her Cinderella story as the undrafted rookie secured the lone goal for her side at 32′, bidding to end Houston’s run of road matches without a loss. Reign FC keeper Casey Murphy was less than a minute away from a clean sheet but Houston defensive midfielder Christine Nairn extended the Dash’s streak of scoring at least one goal to seven games for the equalizer at 90′.
Portland Thorns FC 3, Chicago Red Stars 0
The Portland Thorns opened up their renovated stadium in style on Sunday, aided by keeper’s Britt Eckerstrom’s clean sheet. Attacking midfielder Margaret Purce came a goal short of the week’s second hat trick, finding the back of the net at 27′ and 31′, both off passes from striker Simone Charley. The third goal came at 85′ off the foot of substitute Marissa Everett, who got a solid pass from defender Meghan Klingenberg.
League Standings After Week 8
Washington is now all alone atop the standings until after the break the league is taking for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, but the distance between the rest of the league and the Spirit isn’t such that in a short time after play resumes, the standings couldn’t look very different.
1. Washington Spirit 16 (5-1-1)
2. Portland Thorns FC 14 (4-1-2)
3. Utah Royals FC 13 (4-2-1)
4. North Carolina Courage 12 (3-2-3)
5. Chicago Red Stars 11 (3-3-2)
6. Houston Dash 11 (3-2-2)
7. Reign FC 10 (2-1-4)
8. Sky Blue FC 2 (0-5-2)
9. Orlando Pride 1 (0-7-1)
Schedule for Week 9
Resumption of NWSL play after many of the league’s players will represent their nations in the World Cup is unique because all four matches for the week will be played in one day. All times listed are Eastern and all matches can be streamed live for free on Yahoo! Sports.
Saturday, June 15
Portland Thorns FC at North Carolina Courage, 7:45 p.m.
Orlando Pride at Houston Dash, 8:30 p.m.
Sky Blue FC at Utah Royals FC, 10 p.m.
Washington Spirit at Reign FC, 10 p.m.
Sam Kerr was named Player of the Month for May on Friday. Kerr had four goals during the month, bringing her season total to six, which leads the league. The Australian forward for the Chicago Red Stars will represent her native country in the FIFA World Cup.