We’re through the looking glass here, people.
This weekend was the first NWSL matchweek since World Cup rosters were announced and the league’s internationals started leaving. This means all the squad players around the league are getting their big opportunities to get minutes— and make cases for more playing time once the World Cup is over.
Here are a few takeaways from Week 4.
Even When NWSL Is Bad It’s Still Kinda Fun
As a Red Stars fan, Utah vs Chicago on Friday night made me a bit upset. But if you’re a neutral, the #content was extremely good.
What’s fascinating here is that what made this game fun to watch were two elements that are generally held up as examples of what’s bad about this sport— questionable officiating, and some mild shithousery from players. These are decried in games for good reasons. Here, though, it was a case of two bad tastes that tasted kinda okay together.
As the first NWSL game after the USWNT World Cup roster dropped and all the American Internationals went away to begin the long journey to France, this was sort of a thermometer test to see what this next couple months of the season could be like. We didn’t get any definitive answers from #UTAvCHI, but if this game was any indication, we can probably except this stretch of the season to be, at the very least, a little weird. And honestly, we’re kinda here for it.
Goals Are Sooooo Last Week
Between two blowout wins for North Carolina, Chicago’s 3-0 win over Reign FC, and the 2-2 draw between Portland and Sky Blue, the past two weeks of the season have been replete with goals.
So of course we end up with two goalless draws in Week 4.
But don’t call either game boring. Sky Blue, plagued for years by underachievement and mismanagement, have (slowly) started getting it together this season. They haven’t put in a truly dominant performance yet, but they did manage draws against the two best teams in the league— including a goalless stalemate against the supposedly unstoppable juggernauts North Carolina. This definitely qualifies as a scoreless win.
Meanwhile, Aubrey Bledsoe made an astonishing nine saves on Saturday night to secure a solid point for the Washington Spirit against Reign FC. The highlight video almost doesn’t do her justice.
It’s very possible that this stretch of the season that straddles the World Cup will have more low-scoring draws. But as long as they come with good stories, respectable moral victories, and impressive individual performances, we’ll still have plenty to talk about.
Pride Goeth Before The Fall
(Sorry, I had to do it.)
Orlando have their share of problems, to be sure. But their early season skid, dumping them at the bottom of the table, still comes as a bit of a surprise.
Even with all their internationals leaving, they should still have enough talent in the squad to at least stay out of the basement. That they’ve only managed one point from their first five games, following their 1-0 loss to Houston this weekend, is a very troubling sign.
They only have so much time to pull themselves out of this rut, and they’re going to have to do it without their best players. I’m not sure how they can pull this off, but they’ll have to figure something out soon. Otherwise, the entire season could become a lost cause by July.