The second week of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) kicked off with tons of thrills, some spills and more than a few chills. Washington Spirit dusted themselves off after a tough loss in week 1 with a much needed win and a few working combos. After a tough start last week, the Houston Dash came back with something to celebrate. Sky Blue FC is finding their footing slow, but sure. And Chicago Red Stars made their home debut special by knocking down last year's league leaders.
After the second week of play, the NWSL goal scoring leader board is taking an interesting shape with top scorers Diana Matheson, (WAS) Amy Rodriguez (KC), Kim Little (SEA), Allie Long (POR), Teresa Noyola (HOU), Vicky Losada (WNY) all tied with two goals a piece. Rodriguez and Long seem to be the players making a consistent impact for their teams. The only goal keepers with clean sheets in this young season are Hope Solo (SEA) and Karina LeBlanc (CHI), both with only one match under their belts.
Here's a look at week 2 results:
Washington Spirit 3, FC Kansas City 1
The Spirit defense and midfield stayed very disciplined and focused throughout out this match. The combinations between striker Jodie Taylor, Canadian midfielder Diana Matheson (4', 28'), and midfielder Crystal Dunn, as well as, the quick attacks were exactly what the Spirit were looking for as they notched their first win of the season.
In the 29th minute, FC Kansas City striker, Amy Rodriguez scored her second goal in two games with a bullet from the eight-yard line after a perfectly placed pass from teammate Liz Bogus. Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was able to make the initial save, however the ball bounced back in Rodriguez’s direction and she was able to get in a second shot resulting in the only KC goal of the match.
Recent Spirit pickup, Christine Nairn took a free kick in the 45th minute from about 22 yards out and bent the ball past the KC wall to hit high to the left of the back of the net.
“We were real warriors tonight. We battled and we showed that we have a lot pride in this club and this shirt,” said Spirit head coach Mark Parsons. “I think every time we broke, we looked dangerous. We have some great options on the roster that offer us that threat.”
Portland Thorns FC 1, Sky Blue FC 1
Sky Blue FC welcomed Portland Thorns FC into Yurcak Field on Saturday night for its 2014 home opener.
On a 25th minute corner kick, Sky Blue FC midfielder Katy Freels struck the ball into the penalty area right at midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who headed the ball into the post. Fortunately Christie Rampone was there to collect and quickly put away the go-ahead score. This was Rampone's first-ever goal of her professional club soccer career in eight seasons.
"I was boxing out in my basketball move when the ball came across, and I was like 'Do I clear it or put it in? Where am I?'" Rampone joked about the goal. "It kind of hit off me and went in. It was a fun moment, but then it was immediately back to business."
Portland tied it up in the 75th minute after Sky Blue FC defender Kelley O'Hara was called for an unintentional handball in the box while trailing a loose ball. Portland midfielder Allie Long was called to take the PK, striking the ball hard into the left netting.
Chicago Red Stars 1, Western New York Flash 0
The Chicago Red Stars kicked off their 2014 NWSL season with a big win over Western New York Flash at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois in the first-ever MLS-NWSL double header with Chicago Fire and New England Revolution (1-1 draw).
“It took us a bit to settle in, and the Flash is not an easy team to solve,” said Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames. “I’m pleased with our younger players and I’m obviously pleased with the outcome."
The Red Stars began the second half with a lineup change, subbing in Zakiya Bywaters for forward Adriana Leon. Both teams struggled to find their rhythm for the first few minutes, but the Red Stars picked up their momentum after a series of combinations played from team captain Lori Chalupny, forward Bywaters and Naperville, Illinois, native, Vanessa DiBernardo.
In the 59th minute of play, DiBernardo stepped up to take Chicago’s only corner of the night, and connected with defender Julie Johnston who headed the ball past Flash keeper Lydia Williams.
“It was so great to kick off this season with a win,” said Chicago d-back Johnston. “It was exciting to step out onto the field tonight for my first professional match. The atmosphere here at Toyota Park was great.”
Houston Dash 3, Boston Breakers 2
Well actually, please do call it a come back. In front of 2,018 fans at the Breakers' home opener at Harvard Stadium, the Dash scored two goals in the final 10 minutes to erase a deficit and earn the club’s first-ever victory.
The Dash played from behind on two separate occasions due to goals from Boston's' Heather O’Reilly (1') and Joanna Lohman (70'), but a second half goal from Houston's Ella Masar (50') and two goals from NWSL Player of the Week, Teresa Noyola (81', 85') provided a historic night for the league's newest team.
"I think we stepped it up at the start of the second half and had the run of play, but we really didn't create enough scoring chances from that," Breakers Head Coach Tom Durkin said. "Coming home, our expectations were a little bit higher. I think at the end of the day, we can play better than what we played today. It was a tough loss."
Upcoming Matches (all times are EST):
Washington Spirit at Seattle Reign on Wednesday, April 23 at Memorial Stadium, 10pm
FC Kansas City at Portland Thorns FC on Saturday, April 26 at Providence Park, 10pm
Sky Blue FC at Boston Breakers on Sunday, April 27 at Harvard Stadium, 7pm
Houston Dash at Seattle Reign on Sunday, April 27 at Moda Health Pitch Memorial Stadium, 7pm
All NWSL matches are available live and in high definition on YouTube.
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