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NWSL Review: San Diego Wave rise to the top, Orlando Pride shock Angel City

Raise your hand if you expected the Wave to beat Gotham by four goals or if you saw Orlando upsetting Angel City at home

NJ/NY Gotham FC v San Diego Wave FC Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

The NWSL put in another weekend of interesting results with questionable calls in almost every match. Here’s a quick rundown of everything that happened in the league this past weekend

San Diego blow away Gotham FC

After travelling away to Houston on the opening weekend of the NWSL regular season and grinding out a 1-0 win there, San Diego Wave FC had their home opener against NJ/NY Gotham FC. While neither team have shown consistent form during the NWSL Challenge Cup, I don’t think anyone expected San Diego to run out as 4-0 winners in front of a vociferous crowd.

Alex Morgan scored four goals, two of them penalties where despite Ashlyn Harris’ efforts to put her off, she finished with clinical precision. It took them a long time to get going but once they did, San Diego took over the game and made sure that the ball couldn’t reach the likes of Ify Onumonu and Midge Purce in dangerous positions. The newcomers to the league now sit at the top of the table and will look to keep it that way for as long as possible.

NJ/NY Gotham FC v San Diego Wave FC
Alex Morgan reacts after scoring her second goal of the game
Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Gotham FC’s midfield continues to be an issue for them. Allie Long won’t be back with the team any time soon so they have to find a solution at the defensive midfield position. Against San Diego, McCall Zerboni was tasked with the role and she didn’t fare well. She was guilty of giving away one of the penalties and was overwhelmed by the Wave’s midfield for most of the game. Scott Parkinson may need to either try someone else at the position or rejig his tactical formation if Gotham are to bounce back from this result.

Orlando Pride stun Angel City

Okay, be honest. Did you see this result coming because I know I definitely did not.

After being brushed aside with ease in their home opener against Gotham FC, the Orlando Pride winning in Los Angeles was not what anyone expected. Apart from Sydney Leroux that is. Angel City FC had had an amazing opening weekend which saw them beat the NC Courage and against an Orlando side that hadn’t shown any real threat consistently, even I didn’t think they’d have no luck in front of goal against the Pride but that’s exactly what happened.

Sydney Leroux scored the only goal of the game on Sunday in the third minute as her effort on target was knocked into the net by a Angel City defender. Angel City had been caught cold by Orlando’s start and were too easily cut open by the visitors for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.

NWSL: Orlando Pride at Angel City FC
Sydney Leroux celebrates her goal against Angel City FC
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While Angel City will not be happy with their lack of offensive output, full credit must go the Orlando Pride, particularly goalkeeper Erin McLeod who pulled of a great save late in the game to preserve the lead. Angel City will look to do better in their next match but it’s clear that with all of their injuries, their defensive isn’t solid and if their attack isn’t clicking, not much else will work for them.

Racing Louisville get a big point on the road

Another surprising result from this weekend was Racing Louisville’s 2-2 draw away in Seattle against OL Reign FC. This was the first time OL Reign were playing at their new home at Lumen Field and while they didn’t get the win, they and Louisville did give the fans there a good game.

Jessica McDonald stunned the hosts with a beautiful finish in the 23rd minute but OL Reign answered back quickly with a brace from Tziarra King. In the second half, Louisville found an equaliser through an own goal by Bethany Balcer but with the viewpoint that most of us had, we can’t be sure if the ball crossed the line. The linesman said it did and Louisville managed to stay in the game and earn a vital point away at OL Reign.

Racing Louisville FC v OL Reign
It was a tough battle between OL Reign and Racing Louisville
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

OL Reign played three games in a week and it showed in their performance. They weren’t at their sharpest and continued to give the ball away in key midfield positions. They have a huge game coming up in two days against rivals, Portland Thorns FC, so they will need to sharpen up quickly if they want to get their first win of the season.

Louisville will come away from this game feeling very good about themselves especially when you consider that they didn’t have Emily Fox for this game. If they play like they did last Sunday, they will definitely have a better season than they had last year.

The Houston Dash bounce back

After losing their first game of the season, the Dash need to bounce back and they managed to do so against KC Current. A penalty by Rachel Daly and a great individual effort by Brianna Visalli gave them a 2-0 win on the road, and Jane Campbell’s performance in goal made sure to keep that lead in tact.

Rachel Daly’s penalty was assured but Visalli’s goal was the pick of the two. The Dash had won the ball in midfield in stoppage time and decided to punt it forward to waste time. Visalli had other ideas. She raced forward, beating everyone to the bouncing ball and then finished well past Adrianna Franch who had stepped up to try and stop her from scoring.

NWSL: Houston Dash at Kansas City Current
Brianna Visalli got Houston’s second late in the match
Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

The Dash remain a confusing team to watch, just as the Current are as well. They’re both capable of putting in dogged performances to grind out wins but are also susceptible to lapses in concentration throughout games which leads to them dropping points. Houston will however be the happier of the two teams not just because of the result, but also because of the way the team came together during the week after the suspension of head coach James Clarkson.

Note: The Portland Thorns and the Chicago Red Stars both had their matches postponed due to the NWSL Challenge Cup final which featured their respective opponents, the NC Courage and the Washington Spirit.