NWSL Week 1: A Look Back

Vicky Losada celebration ISI

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By CAITLIN MURRAY

It’s only the first week, but the Seattle Reign have to feel good about sitting atop the leader board after an embarrassing 2013, buoyed by a 3-0 shutout Sunday of the Boston Breakers. With Hope Solo in goal, they recorded their first shutout in franchise history while looking dominant on the other end of the field.

Meanwhile, the Houston Dash weren’t able to overcome the reigning champs, Portland Thorns FC, but the franchise made an impressive league debut, both on the field and off.

The Washington Spirit lost — again — and weren’t able to set a positive tone to start the season after their dismal 2013. But there is a silver lining: They found the back of the net once, which is a step in the right direction, considering they only scored 16 goals in 22 regular season games last year.

Meanwhile, two of last year’s top teams played to a draw, showing there may be another battle at the top of the table again this year.

Here’s a look back at Week 1 in the National Women’s Soccer League, plus SBI’s top picks of the week:

REIGN MAKE STATEMENT IN THUMPING OF BOSTON

What a difference a year makes.

The Seattle Reign are now one-for-one after a commanding take down of the Boston Breakers on Sunday led by Scottish midfielder Kim Little.

Playing to a scoreless first half, a penalty kick in the 49th minute was the breakthrough Seattle needed after outplaying Boston all game. After burying a perfect penalty kick, Little scored five minutes later running past Boston defenses for the go-ahead goal.

After hitting the crossbar twice, Megan Rapinoe got on the board in the 88th minute, bursting through two Boston defenders and beating an out-of-position Alyssa Naeher for an easy tap-in.

Seattle out-shot Boston, 23 to 4, and looked threatening all over the field with Little, Rapinoe and Sydney Leroux leading their efforts. Late sub Nahomi Kawasumi proved to be a game-changer, setting up some perfect service that was squandered in the end.

“I think the thing that we showed tonight was that we have talent in this group that can win games,” coach Laura Harvey said after the match.

Check out highlights of the match:

DASH FALL TO REIGNING CHAMPS IN LEAGUE DEBUT

The Thorns spoiled a bit of the fun for the Houston Dash, who hosted Portland in their inaugural match Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium to a 0-1 loss.

But the Dash should come away from the match feeling good – they drew 8,097 fans to see a team that didn’t exist six months ago, they dominated possession and have 21 more matches to make up for the loss.

The Thorns struggled to find a rhythm and connect with their attackers as the Dash were able to race behind Portland’s back line and find chances. The finishing wasn’t quite there for the Dash as Nadine Angerer was rarely challenged, but came up for a couple big saves that proved why she is the reigning FIFA Player Of The Year.

“We didn’t connect anything,” Thorns coach Paul Riley told the Oregonian after the match. “That was probably the most disappointing factor. The connection in the midfield is something we’ve been working on. It looked like we just met at a 7-Eleven.”

The Thorns found their chance in the first half on a throw-in from Jessica McDonald that midfielder Allie Long headed just past goalkeeper Erin McLeod.

Long admitted the Thorns were outplayed by the Dash, even if the score didn’t show it.

“We were lucky to get away with 3 points,” she said afterward. “We’ve played much better than that.”

Highlights of the match are not yet available.

RODRIGUEZ MAKES KANSAS CITY DEBUT TO DRAW WITH SKY BLUE

And just like that, Amy Rodriguez is back, leading FC Kansas City to a 1-1 draw with Sky Blue FC.

In the first goal of the 2014 NWSL season, Rodriguez connected with rookie Kassey Kallman’s pass from the top of the box and slipped it past goalkeeper Jill Loyden in the 42nd minute.

Rodriguez, who missed the inaugural NWSL season to have her first child, was at the center of most Kansas City chances, leading with 6 shots, and served as a constant threat for New Jersey-based Sky Blue.

Katy Freels found the equalizer for the visitors just five minutes later by pouncing on a poor clearance and knocking it back into goal.

The match drew a near-capacity 3,107 for Kansas City’s first game at their new soccer-specific venue, Durwood Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Check out highlights of the match:

SPIRIT FALL TO FLASH IN HOME OPENER

It was not the start the Washington Spirit wanted, falling 3-1 to the Western New York Flash on Sunday. But for a Spirit side that lost 5-0 once last year to the regular season champion Flash, it may be seen as an improvement.

The Flash were without Abby Wambach — who fractured her orbital bone below her left eye playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team days earlier — but found a new source of goals: Vicky Losada, a new transfer from FC Barcelona.

Just 15 minutes into the match, Vicky fired a blast from some 30-yards out that might’ve gotten help from a windy day in Baltimore, Md., but sailed over the hands of goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

Spirit equalized early in the second half, with midfielder Christine Nairn bending the ball through the Flash defense off a corner kick and into goal.

Minutes later, defender Brittany Taylor slid into a Vicky cross on a corner kick for the go-ahead goal. Vicky nabbed one more goal in 67th minute with fellow Spaniard Adriana Martin finding her running through the box for an easy tap past Harris.

“To see Vicky come in and have that sort of contribution is very fulfilling,” Flash coach Aaran Lines said after the match. “This is a good start to her Flash career.”

Wambach’s condition is listed as “day-to-day.”

Check out highlights of the match:

SBI WEEK 1 AWARDS

Player of the Week: Vicky Losada for leading the Western New York attack and tallying two goals and an assist.

Team of the Week: Seattle Reign FC for a team performance that saw dominant play on both sides of the ball.

—–

What did you think of Week 1 in the NWSL? Who was your player and team of the week?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in NWSL, Women's Professional Soccer, Women's Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to NWSL Week 1: A Look Back

  1. phillypride says:

    Keep the NWSL coverage coming! It obviously doesn’t draw as many readers, but some of us really appreciate it.

    And just in case there are any billionaires reading this, please bring a team to Philadelphia! ;)

  2. Alex H says:

    Anybody have any news on the attendance figures? I am a fan of women’s soccer but given the flameouts of the last two leagues the numbers in the stands are are far more important to me than the numbers on the field.

  3. Beast says:

    Seattle had 3021, Spirit had 2000 something haven’t heard the rest.

  4. FCKC’s Durwood Stadium is an awesome surface, I play pick up there with some guys usually once a week, its a nice change from their high school football digs a year ago.

  5. Landy Cakes says:

    Little, Kim is going to kick your ass. She’s Scottish not English.

    Seriously. her name is Kim Little. Kim Little LOL.

    Also the Reign are stacked. Leroux, Pinoe, Kawasumi, Little, Fishloch, Solo. It was sooo much fun to watch.

    • Bozeman says:

      Yeah! I was at the game yesterday too, and holy cow was it fast-paced! Fishloch is insanely quick and Rapinoe practically ran a marthon’s distance, and Little’s excellent finishing and link-up play. I was also impressed by Kawasumi, had some excellent runs and crosses!

  6. Hobo says:

    definitely keep the NWSL coverage coming, I enjoy reading whats going on with the league.

  7. Hampton Dellinger says:

    Great week 1 recap. Thanks for the coverage. Retweeting the link. – Hampton Dellinger

  8. Great job says:

    Thanks, good report!