Editorial – The month of March saw the opening of a new, sixth season for the NWSL.
After only two weeks of action in March, the NWSL is preparing for a hectic April. Teams will take the upcoming weekend off due to international matches in the United States and abroad.
However, clubs still hold practices, as not all players are featuring for their respective national teams.
NWSL Week Two: Four Takeaways From the Weekend
That gives players, coaches, and staff time to review what happened in the second weekend of NWSL action.
Here are four takeaways from the four matches.
Hatch got snubbed by the league:
Ashley Hatch did exactly what was done against her side, the Washington Spirit, by Megan Rapinoe a week ago.
In Seattle’s Week 1 victory over Washington, Rapinoe had a goal and an assist. The tallies got her NWSL Player of the Week honors.
This week, Hatch did the same thing, assisting Mallory Pugh in the 80th minute and scoring in the 88th minute. However, it wasn’t Hatch that won the Player of the Week honors.
Instead, it was Pugh.
This is where the popularity comes into play. Voters know Pugh’s name far more than Hatch, as Pugh is a regular member of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
This is not to take away from Pugh, either. She is a fantastic, young talent. However, Hatch did more to garner the award over her teammate.
Either way, Washington, and Head Coach Jim Gabarra, have to be pleased about taking down a veteran Orlando Pride squad.
— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) April 1, 2018
Sky Blue’s debut was a dud:
Fans could hardly call it a nail-biter.
Sky Blue FC made their NWSL debut this weekend, due to their bye week during the opening weekend. Every week, one club will have a bye, due to only nine clubs in the league.
The Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City folded this offseason. Only one club, FC Kansas City, was replaced with the Utah Royals.
Sky Blue’s debut occurred at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. Despite the match heading to a stoppage-time game-winning goal, the match wasn’t even.
Sky Blue only took three total shots — with none registering on goal. Needless to say, Courage goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo had an easy day at her post.
North Carolina — who had their game-winning goal scored by Jessica McDonald — took 23 shots, with five registering as on goal.
After the match, Sky Blue FC Head Coach Denise Reddy said that the first half was fine, but the team slumped in the second half.
“In the second half, we lost some of our rhythm and were unable to keep possession as long,” Reddy said. “We spent so much time defending that we started to get ourselves pinned back a bit.”
Huerta is a darn good midfielder, (Jill)!
Sofia Huerta is a natural forward and midfielder.
That’s something that U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Jill Ellis might never understand.
Ellis is the queen of women’s international soccer coaches playing certain athletes out of position. She pulled the same cards on Crystal Dunn, who featured on defense a month ago in the SheBelieves Cup.
However, Ellis might want to take note of midfield Huerta.
Against the Portland Thorns on Saturday, Huerta assisted Alyssa Mautz’ two goals in the loss. Huerta featured on the left, joining a midfield partnership with Danielle Colaprico and Nikki Stanton.
Huerta was sending crosses in all night, connecting passes and shifting from offensive to defensive duties.
Hopefully, Ellis was taking notes.
Double Trouble. pic.twitter.com/SPEvWITCDD
— Chicago Red Stars (@chiredstarsPR) April 1, 2018
The Vera Pauw surprises keep coming
Two weeks ago, Vera Pauw and the Houston Dash didn’t surprise many with their scoreless draw against the Chicago Red Stars.
Chicago is missing a chunk of their top-notch players. Houston had their whole team, except two players, available.
It’s hard to call that “fair” competition.
However, this week, the Dash, who still have all but two of their players (including forward Kealia Ohai), faced off with a stacked Utah Royals team.
Down in Houston, Jane Campbell came up big for the Dash, making five huge saves. Campbell kept the Dash in the game against a tough Royals attacking game.
Is Houston going to make me eat my words? Like I wrote last week, it’s too early to tell. However, right now, Houston looks pretty good under the Pauw experiment.