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NWSL: Washington wins first match of 2017

The NWSL decided to change things up this week with their schedule.

Instead of having four matches on Saturday and one on Sunday, the league elected to have two on Sunday and three on Saturday.

Saturday night was a big night for the NWSL, as the Washington Spirit recorded their first win of the season. Furthermore, bitter rivals, the Portland Thorns FC and Seattle Reign, battled it out for west coast dominance.

Read more to see what your favorite NWSL team did this weekend.

Chicago Red Stars 2-0 Houston Dash: This week’s NWSL Lifetime TV match of the week was hosted in Chi-town, with the Chicago Red Stars hosting their mid-west rival the Houston Dash.

Chicago won the match, bringing home all three points and keeping their home unbeaten streak alive. The first goal for the Red Stars wasn’t even scored by their own, as Houston’s Sarah Hagen scored an own-goal in the 44′ minute, right before halftime.

The deal was sealed in the 61′ minute when Julie Ertz scored the game-winning goal. Ertz’s goal was struck from the box, after each team took touches on the ball. Her goal was listed as unassisted.

As for misconduct, one player from each side received a yellow card. Houston’s Bruna was shown the first caution card in the 15′ minute. Chicago’s Christen Press was not shown her yellow card until the 83′ minute.

Washington Spirit 4-3 Sky Blue FC: It looked like it wasn’t going to happen at the end, but the Washington Spirit managed to pull through 90 minutes of tough, gritty football to find their first win of the NWSL season.

The Spirit hosted Sky Blue FC, and managed to score four goals past goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Washington got on the board first with a goal from Francisca Ordega in the 6′ minute. The Spirit’s other three tallies were scored by Havana Salaun (34′) and Ordega (56′). The fourth goal was an own-goal from Sky Blue FC.

For the visiting team, Sky Blue, their three goals were scored by Kelley O’Hara in the 12′ minute and from Sarah Killion in the 50′ and 71′ minutes. The two goals were Killion’s first brace of the season.

“We are extremely disappointed to come away from a game with a loss after scoring three goals,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We had too many lapses in concentration defensively, and we paid for it. Despite the outcome, we will look to focus on the positives that we can take away from tonight. Going forward, we will have great confidence in knowing we can cause problems for any team we play.”

As for misconduct, Sky Blue’s Erin Simon was shown the match’s first yellow card in the 39′ minute. For the Spirit, Cheyna Williams was shown their side’s lone yellow card in the 87′ minute.

Portland Thorns FC 2-2 Seattle Reign: It was a peculiar night, to say the least, for Jessica Fishlock of the Seattle Reign.

Fishlock found the back of the net twice, but only once for Seattle in the 1′ minute. However, in the 37′ minute, Fishlock found the back of her own net, scoring an own goal for the Portland Thorns. However, the Reign were able to tie with the Thorns, who had their second goal scored by Allie Long in the 82′ minute, by a goal from Merritt Mathias in the 39′ minute.

After the match, Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons talked about the west coast rivalry between the Reign and Thorns.

“I think when you play Seattle, there is that energy right from the word ‘go’ and we talk about the opposition normally at the end of the week, but it’s hard to avoid who we are playing and the players we are playing against,” Parsons said. “I think it’s a great battle that both teams really embrace and with that energy, we try to keep the team calm for most of the week.”

In the misconduct category, each club had two yellow cards shown to two separate players. For the Reign, Megan Rapinoe was shown the first yellow card in the 57′ minute, and was followed by Fishlock in the 66′ minute. As for the Thorns, Amandine Henry was shown her yellow card in the 73′ minute, while Lindsey Horan was shown the yellow in the 90’+1′ minute.

“Our fight and desire was back and that’s what we have to bring to every game,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey. “You can’t just do it when there’s 20,000 people in the stands, you’ve got to do it every week. We showed tonight we’re a threat when we go forward and score goals any different way we want. We showed we can be on the back foot and be under pressure but fight for it.”

Boston Breakers 0-1 North Carolina Courage: The North Carolina Courage have yet to lose a match in the NWSL.

Technically the reigning NWSL championship, the Courage took down the Boston Breakers at home. The hero of the match for the Courage was striker Jessica McDonald, who scored the lone tally in the 32′ minute. McDonald’s goal was listed as unassisted.

The Courage also had only one yellow card, shown to Taylor Smith in the 87′ minute. However, the Breakers had three yellow cards shown to Julie King (35′), Rosie White (53′) and Adriana Leon (82′).

“Obviously they’re a tough team to play against. They’re resilient. They’re athletic,” said Boston Breakers head coach Matt Beard. “It was a tough night with the conditions, both teams having to deal the wind. It was tough.”

“It was frustrating, because as the game went on, we started to go a little bit longer when we could’ve played and the final cross wasn’t good enough and that was the story of the game for us,” said Beard.

FC Kansas City 1-1 Orlando Pride: After three NWSL matches, Marta has finally found the back of the net for the Orlando Pride.

However, it wasn’t enough to give the club the win. Marta’s goal, which occurred in the 73′ minute, was equalized by a goal from FC Kansas City’s Erika Tymrak in the 84′ minute. Marta’s goal was assisted by Jasmyne Spencer while Tymrak’s goal was assisted by Maegan Kelly.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, when you give a player of Marta’s caliber that opportunity, she’s going to put it away. The goal was a long time coming and I’m pleased with the pressure we put on Kansas City to create the chance,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “But overall, I think it’s a disappointing result because I believe we should have walked away with three points from the game. We still need to capitalize on the opportunities we are given. Now, we look ahead to hosting a very good North Carolina team next week.”

Two yellow cards were shown throughout the entire match, one going to each club. For FC Kansas City, Syndey Leroux was shown her yellow card in the 45’+1′ minute, while the Pride’s Maddy Evans was shown her card in the 60′ minute.


Photo of the Washington Spirit courtesy of Jose Argueta/ISI Images.

Follow @RachaelMcKriger on Twitter for all NWSL coverage.

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Rachael McKriger
Sports Journalist

Rachael McKriger writes for RSEN Report (Lead Editor), Pittsburgh Sports Castle (Content Editor), Mon Goals and W2M Network, in addition to being a sports stringer/reporter for the Mon Valley Independent newspaper.

A senior of California Univ. of Pennsylvania, you can follow her on Twitter, @RachaelMcKriger, where you can find all of her articles. Search “McKriger Photography” on Facebook, to see her photos.

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