NWSL Rewind Week 16: Solo, Lloyd are no-shows; Rapinoe scores in debut

nwsl rewind week 16

by TOM SLATER

Carli Lloyd’s return will be delayed a week. Megan Rapinoe came back this weekend and scored her first goal of the year. And Hope Solo won’t be playing anytime soon in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

All in a week’s worth of news in Week 15 of the NWSL.

When all was said and done, many of the Olympic stars returned, the Washington Spirit solidified their lead, the Portland Thorns FC held pat, Western New York slipped a spot and the Chicago Red Stars moved up the table.

Washington Spirit 2, Orlando Pride 1: The Washington Spirit (11-3-2, 35 points) stayed atop the NWSL standings with a 2-1 win over the Orlando Pride (6-10-0, 18 points) at Camping World Stadium in Orlando in front of 7,052 fans.

In the second ever match between the teams, Christine Nairn and Cheyna Williams scored to give the Spirit the three points. The Pride’s Sarah Hagen halved the lead with a goal midway through the second half, but it was not enough for the Pride to come back and force the draw.

The Spirit earned the first goal of the night when defender Caprice Dydasco made a run down the left flank, outpacing the Pride’s defense. Dydasco flicked the ball to Williams who took a nifty first touch around the Pride’s backline and then took to the net with a driven shot that soared over Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. This is the second time this season that Dydasco and Williams have combined for a goal.

Nairn earned the second goal of the night (her third in two games) when Katie Stengel was wide open in her run down the right side. The Pride’s defense lost track of the ball and left Nairn completely open while making a far post run. Stengel saw the opportunity and capitalized, sending a pass right to the feet of Nairn, leaving Harris with a slim chance at deflecting the shot.

Shortly after, the Pride closed the gap with a goal by Hagen who had come into the game just minutes earlier. Cami Levin sent a cross right across the face of net, and Hagen tapped it in with a run into the six yard box.

Western New York Flash 2, Houston Dash 2: The Flash came back twice to draw with the visiting Dash, who were without midfielder Carli Lloyd. Lloyd missed the game with a personal commitment and will rejoin her club team this week.

Houston (3-8-4, 13 points) took two separate leads in the match only to see Western New York (8-5-3, 27 points) draw level both times. The tie allowed Chicago to slip ahead of the Flash in the standings.

The Dash scored first in the 28tgh minute. Janine Beckie fed a ball to Denise O’Sullivan, who finished her shot to give the visitors an early advantage. The Houston lead would not last long, however, as Western New York drew even in the 36th minute when Lianne Sanderson was able to power a shot past Lydia Williams for the equalizer. The goal came as McDonald dummied a ball that came from the foot of Lynn Williams, allowing Sanderson to gain possession and notch her third goal in a Flash uniform.

The Dash took the lead again in the 53rd minute. Houston captain Kealia Ohai took a shot from just inside the 18-yard box that bent around Sabrina D’Angelo into the side netting.

The Flash responded moments later, again drawing even, this time in the 58th minute. The goal was tallied by Makenzy Doniak, who finished a beautiful pass across the goalmouth from Lynn Williams to draw the score at 2-2. The tally was Doniak’s third of the season, and also of her career.

Seattle Reign 3, Portland Thorns FC 1: In front of a crowd of 5,888, Seattle Reign FC defeated rival Portland Thorns FC 3-1 and crept into fifth place in the standings, four points behind Western New York.

The victory was Reign FC’s (6-5-5, 23 pts) second in the past three matches. Portland (8-3-5, 29 points) stayed in second place, one point ahead of Chicago.

The Reign FC opened the scoring in the 27th minute of the match, when Manon Melis scored her first ever goal against the Thorns. Keelin Winters played a long ball out to Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi on the wing. Naho played it forward to Melis, who split the defenders and chipped the ball over Michelle Betos for the goal.

Just five minutes into the second half, Seattle was able to double its lead. The Portland defense tried to play a ball back to Betos, but Melis was able to pounce on the pass and gain possession. Melis then chipped the ball past Betos for her second goal on the night.

Portland cut the deficit in half through midfielder Allie Long. Thorns FC earned a free kick in second half stoppage time. Long was able to finish Tobin Heath’s service into the box to make the score line 2-1.

Reign FC would respond two minutes later to restore the lead to two goals. Rumi Utsugi won the ball in Seattle’s defensive third, and played it up to Kim Little. Little played Jessica Fishlock in behind the defense, who then crossed it over to Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe made no mistake with her finish, and made the score 3-1 in favor of Reign FC.

This was Rapinoe’s first match of the season for Seattle, after missing the first portion of the season due to an ACL injury and being a part of the United States Women’s National Team roster for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Reign announced before the game that goalkeeper Hope Solo is on a personal leave and will not be with the team for an undetermined amount of time.

Boston Breakers 2, FC Kansas City 0: In the only match of the weekend without playoff implications, Boston (3-11-1, 10 points) won its first road game in two years by scoring once in each half.

Katie Schoepfer scored in the 38th minute when she hit along range shot that Nicole Barnhart couldn’t handle. Schoepfer collected her own rebound to give the Breakers the lead at the half.

Kristie Mewis made it 2-0 in the 81st minute when she blasted a long range shot off the crossbar and directed in her own rebound.