The 2018 NWSL season kicked off on Saturday, March 24 with eight teams taking the field for the sixth season of the league. Highlights this week included Utah Royals FC’s first game in franchise history, a championship rematch and a world class free-kick goal from Megan Rapinoe.
North Carolina Courage vs. Portland Thorns (1-0: Debinha)
In a rematch of last year’s NWSL Championship match, the script was flipped with the Courage earning the 1-0 win at home courtesy of strike from outside the penalty box by Brazilian international Debinha.
Orlando Pride vs. Utah Royals FC (1-1: Marta; Jónsdóttir)
Utah Royals FC opened its first season in club history with an away game in Orlando on Saturday night. Utah took a very early lead via Iceland international Gunnhildur Jonsdottir in the third minute as she slid to expertly finish a cross from the lefty wing by Diana Matheson. Orlando tied the game in the 21st minute due to a strange sequence of events. Utah captain Becky Sauerbrunn retreated into her own penalty box and seemingly blocked a blistering volley from Dani Weatherholt with her face. Sauerbrunn was down for a few moments before it became clear that the referee had ruled that the shot had struck her arm and awarded a penalty bick. Sauerbrunn was shown a yellow card and Orlando’s Marta converted the penalty kick to tie the match and open her 2018 scoring account.
Seattle Reign vs. Washington Spirit (2-1: Rapinoe, Taylor; Lohman)
Hosting a young Washington team at home, Megan Rapinoe and the Seattle Reign earned a 2-1 win to kick off its year. Rapinoe opened the scoring with a scorching free-kick from about 25 yards in the seventh minute and later followed with an assist on Jodie Taylor’s goal for a 2-0 Reign lead in the first half. Joanna Lohman, who returns to play this year after an ACL tear sidelined her for the entire 2017 season, closed the gap late in the match on a brilliant individual effort, but the Spirit was unable to find the game-tying goal despite numerous chances.
Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars (1-1: Keever; Comeau)
In the only game played on Sunday, the Chicago Red Stars earned a point thanks to a dramatic equalizer in second half stoppage time from Taylor Comeau. Houston opened the scoring in the 38th minute with a goal from Kimberly Keever, but Chicago stayed in the game and on one of the last touches of the game, headed home a corner kick to earn the point on the road.
WNT Players in NWSL Action
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher – 90 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Defender Sofia Huerta – 90 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Goalkeeper Jane Campbell – 90 minutes (Houston Dash)
Forward Lynn Williams – 90 minutes (NC Courage)
Defender Abby Dahlkemper – 90 minutes (NC Courage)
Forward Crystal Dunn – 90 minutes (NC Courage)
Forward Alex Morgan – 45 minutes (Orlando Pride)
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris – 90 minutes (Orlando Pride)
Midfielder Lindsey Horan – 90 minutes (Portland Thorns FC)
Defender Emily Sonnett – 90 minutes (Portland Thorns FC)
Defender Meghan Klingenberg – 90 minutes (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielder Allie Long – 90 minutes (Seattle Reign)
Forward Megan Rapinoe – 90 minutes, GOAL, ASSIST (Seattle Reign FC)
Defender Kelley O’Hara – 90 minutes (Utah Royals FC)
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn – 90 minutes (Utah Royals FC)
Forward Mallory Pugh – 90 minutes (Washington Spirit)
Midfielder Andi Sullivan – 90 minutes (Washington Spirit)
Forward Ashley Hatch – 90 minutes (Washington Spirit)
Defender Taylor Smith – 90 minutes (Washington Spirit)
Did Not Play
Midfielder Julie Ertz – Injury [knee] (Chicago Red Stars)
Defender Casey Short – Injury [ankle] (Chicago Red Stars)
Midfielder Samantha Mewis – Injury [knee] (NC Courage)
Midfielder Tobin Heath – Injury [ankle] (Portland Thorns)
Midfielder Carli Lloyd – No Game Scheduled (Sky Blue FC)
Forward Savannah McCaskill – No Game Scheduled (Sky Blue FC)
Forward Amy Rodriguez – Injury [ACL recovery] (Utah Royals FC)
Midfielder Rose Lavelle – Injury [hamstring] (Washington Spirit)