NWSL Wrap, R25 2019

Six saves aren’t enough for a point, and Washington draw the biggest crowd in club history. All that and more in round 19 of the NWSL.

North Carolina Courage vs Reign FC

North Carolina put aside the disappointment of their International Champions Cup loss to Olympique Lyonnais to defeat Reign FC 1-0 and extend their undefeated run at home to 14 league games. Reign keeper Casey Murphy had a night to remember, making six saves against one of the best attacking lineups in women’s club football, only to be undone by a delightful four-pass attacking move culminating in Lynn Williams’ close-range winner.

Matildas fullback Steph Catley played a full 90 minutes for Reign, while keeper Lydia Williams remains sidelined with injury.



Washington Spirit vs Orlando Pride

A near-capacity crowd of 19,471 packed into Audi Field in DC to watch Washington Spirit run out 2-1 winners against an under-strength Orlando. With Orlando missing striker Alex Morgan with concussion and Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy through suspension, the Pride started in the worst way possible, with keeper Ashlyn Harris fluffing her lines to allow Chrystal Thomas to open the scoring early on.

Orlando equalised with a silky close-range finish from Marta at the half-hour mark, only for Washington to re-take the lead on the hour with a neat header from Ashley Hatch. Spirit keeper Aubrey Bledsoe made two incredible saves late in the match – including an unbelievable close-range kick save in stoppage time – to give Washington their first win over Orlando in four matches.

Matildas wingback Amy Harrison was an 87th-minute substitute for Washington, while Kennedy will return from suspension in her side’s next match.



Houston Dash vs Sky Blue

Sky Blue extended its unbeaten run to three matches with a 2-1 win in Houston to continue the Dash’s wretched home form. Veteran striker Carli Lloyd scored both goals for the New Jersey side, latching onto inch-perfect passes from Jen Hoy and Rocky Rodriguez to slot home.

Houston can count themselves unlucky not to get anything from the match however, with both Sofia Huerta and Rachel Daly hitting the crossbar with close-range headers either side of the break, before Kealia Ohai’s last-minute goal from just outside the box.

Matildas defender Clare Polkinghorne announced before the match that she would be leaving the Dash to return home on personal leave.



Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars

Portland maintained their place atop the NWSL ladder with a 3-0 win against Chicago Red Stars in front of 17,542 fans at Providence Park. Thorns skipper Christine Sinclair was at the centre of almost everything good for the home side, scoring one goal from close range and providing the assist for Midge Purce’s second, as her side easily dealt with a Chicago team now on a three-game slide.

The match could have featured no fewer than five Matildas players, with Sam Kerr leading the line for Chicago, and Ellie Carpenter and Hayley Raso both seeing an hour on field for the Thorns, however Chicago keeper Mackenzie Arnold and Portland winger Caitlin Foord were both unused substitutes.