NWSL: Megan Rapinoe makes season debut after long weather delay

NWSL Megan Rapinoe
ST PAUL, MINNESOTA — SEPTEMBER 03: Megan Rapinoe #15 of the United States looks on during the National Anthem before the USWNT Victory Tour friendly match against Portugal at Allianz Field on September 03, 2019 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The United States defeated Portugal 3-0. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images).

Tacoma, Washington — Weather delays have not been kind to the National Women’s Soccer League. Normally, it’s typical to see a Washington Spirit or North Carolina Courage match get delayed. After all, they are on the East Coast and North Carolina can sometimes be susceptible to hurricane aftermath.

However, this time, the delay happened on the West Coast.

In Tacoma, Reign FC began their demolition of the Orlando Pride. The last-place team in the NWSL couldn’t keep the Reign at bay. It only took three minutes for Darian Jenkins to find the back of Ashlyn Harris’ net. Then, she did it again only nine minutes later. Beverly Yanez tapped in a goal, too, making it 3-0 within the first 20 minutes.

A weather delay — which lasted over an hour-and-a-half — that began around the 23rd minute ended the suffering for Orlando. After the match, Marc Skinner said that the first 14 minutes of the match was complete madness for his side.

“To have a rain delay, to go down three goals and then to come back in the last 70 minutes and, effectively, win the game 1-nil, that shows what we should have done from the start,” Skinner said. “It’s just a wasted, short amount of time that you can’t have in this league, especially against a team that are chasing to be in the playoffs.”

However, Skinner’s remarks were a bit off. The Pride did not secure victory, but did have a consolation goal, courtesy of Brazilian international Camila. She slotted home a penalty kick after Megan Oyster fouled Danica Evans inside the box.

The biggest moment from the match came in the 72nd minute, as Megan Rapinoe made her season debut. She replaced Bethany Balcer and attempted one shot. She was also called offside once.

Sauerbrunn, Utah shocks Portland

Becky Sauerbrunn isn’t known to score.

She’s a centerback, so she’s usually sitting behind, on the Utah Royals’ side of the pitch. However, on set-piece plays, Sauerbrunn has no problem getting herself into the action. Still, she couldn’t find the back of the net in her two seasons in Utah. That changed on Friday night.

With a team that has Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez and Lo’eau LaBonta, Sauerbrunn is the least likely to score. However, on a corner kick, Sauerbrunn’s header went into the back of Adrianna Franch’s net. It was the lone goal of the match and the game-winner. It was also Sauerbrunn’s first Royals goal.

Sauerbrunn had some fun with the media after the match. She said that normally when she scores, the team loses.

“This was a nice change,” Sauerbrunn said. “Coming at the time it did, at the end of the season, against Portland, trying to steal points from the teams above us; I’m just really happy. I got pretty fortunate. Christen sent in a great cross, and it barely missed Sinclair’s head, and I just got my head to it. I thought it was going wide, but it skidded in, so I’ll take it.”

It’s a tight race for a playoff spot — see the end of the article — in the NWSL. Utah was able to pop up to the third place slot with the win, but then slipped to fourth after a Chicago victory.

Either way, the match was highlighted in a sour light. It was reported by fans that a person attending the match was yelling racist sayings toward goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. She acknowledged the comments on social media, as did the league and Royals.

Her teammates and others around the league rallied behind her, too.

Courage get closer to NWSL top spot with 2-1 win

It was disaster at the start for Sky Blue FC.

Sky Blue defender Erica Skroski attempted to clear the ball away from Kristen Hamilton and Lynn Williams, but ended up finding the back of her own net. Kailen Sheridan couldn’t get there in time to get the ball away from goal. Only one minute into their match at home and the New Jersey club was down.

However, they weren’t quite out.

Carli Lloyd found the back of the net for Sky Blue in the 13th minute. The lead didn’t last in the second half, as Crystal Dunn swooped in and scored the game-winning goal. The victory gave North Carolina three points and inched them closer to first place.

However, the match signaled new change for Sky Blue. Freya Coombe was named the club’s next interim manager last week, and she had her first match in charge. Former interim coach Hugo Macedo went back to assistant and the club’s goalkeeper coach.

Coombe said she loves working with the players.

“They’ve had a turbulent season, it’s fair to say, but they’ve done it with such professionalism and they come into practice willing to work hard all the time,” Coombe said. “They’ve got such great attitudes, it just makes working with them so enjoyable. There’s a good camaraderie within the team, every day is enjoyable. And now it’s just a case of building on each game and trying to finish the season on a bit of a high.”

Sky Blue’s loss halted a three-match unbeaten streak.

Chicago picks up much-needed NWSL win

It’s a crowded bunch on top of the NWSL.

The Chicago Red Stars know that and wanted to avoid a four-game losing streak on Sunday. They did just that, with the team firing on all cylinders against the Houston Dash. The Red Stars blanked the Dash, courtesy of two goals from Sam Kerr and Savannah McCaskill’s first tally in a Chicago uniform.

Kerr didn’t take long to find the back of the net, scoring in the 7th minute. The tale of the tape isn’t changing much for the Australian. She leads the league for the second year in a row with 15 goals. The competition isn’t even close in the league, as Christine Sinclair sits in second with nine goals.

Kerr also scored in the 44th minute, piling a second goal before halftime.

However, in the second half, Savannah McCaskill reaped the reward for a hard effort. While being trailed by Amber Brooks, McCaskill was falling to the ground but still got a shot off. It slipped past Jane Campbell for the third goal of the afternoon.

In the 84th minute, the Red Stars had the chance to add a fourth goal. However, Jane Campbell made yet another penalty save this season, denying Yuki Nagasato. The penalty came after Brooks fouled Katie Johnson in the penalty area.

After the match, Campbell said that saving her fourth penalty of the season was cool, but wanted to win the match.

“I’m just thankful I keep guessing the right way,” Campbell said. “I wish we would’ve performed better so that it wouldn’t even happened. It’s a cool stat and it’s cool that I broke it. It’s a weird one though. I don’t really want to save any more PKs or have any PKs for that matter.”

NWSL Standings

Right now, it’s a tight race for the top. Wednesday night has two matches. The Orlando Pride will head to Chicago at 7 p.m. However, the biggest match will be late in the evening, as North Carolina heads to Providence Park. The winner of the match will take over the top spot in the league.

Here’s the current standings in the NWSL.

 

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