USWNT REWIND: Thorns Clinch West in Challenge Cup, Goals Abound Abroad

From the UEFA Women’s Champions League to the NWSL Challenge Cup, it was an action-packed week stateside and across the Atlantic for the U.S. Women’s National Team Players with their respective clubs.


One spot in the NWSL Challenge Cup Championship match has been clinched as Portland Thorns FC secured the Western Division title with a 2-0 win over rivals OL Reign on Wednesday evening. U.S. midfielder Lindsey Horan was instrumental in both Portland goals, curling in a masterful free kick from 19-yards out in the 17th minute to open the scoring after USWNT forward Sophia Smith drew the foul for Portland just outside the area.

WATCH: Horan Scores Set-Piece Scorcher


Leading 1-0 at the half, Portland quickly added to its advantage after the break, scoring on the 46th minute. Simone Charley buried the rebound after the initial strike by Horan was saved by Reign goalkeeper Karen Bardsley. The match also marked the Thorns debut for Crystal Dunn, who joined the club in October of 2020 after winning back-to-back NWSL Championships with the North Carolina Courage. Dunn went the full 90 minutes in her Thorns debut, as did Horan, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Adrianna Franch, who made three saves while recording her second consecutive shutout. The win gave Portland nine points through three matches in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup and secured a berth to the Championship Match on May 8 which will pit Portland – the winner of the Western Division – against the top finisher from the Eastern Division.

Elsewhere in the Western Division, the Chicago Red Stars and Kansas City played to a 1-1 draw. Amy Rodriguez put Kansas City in front in the 80th minute, but the Red Stars equalized just two minutes later with a goal by Katie Johnson. USWNT forward Mallory Pugh played 35 minutes in her Red Stars debut while fellow U.S. internationals Alyssa Naeher, Casey Krueger, Julie Ertz and Tierna Davidson went the full 90 for Chicago.

While the battle for the top spot in the Eastern Division is still ongoing, newly rebranded NJ/NY Gotham FC sits in first thanks to a thrilling 4-3 victory over the North Carolina Courage on April 20. Midge Purce tallied a brace in the first half hour, scoring in the 18th and 26th minutes. Carli Lloyd added a goal of her own in the 32nd minute before a Jessica McDonald equalizer for North Carolina to make it 3-3 in the 50th minute. In the second minute of stoppage time, Gotham’s Evelyne Viens scored off a great build-up started by Lloyd to give the home side three points.

WATCH: Purce Scores Opening Goal for Gotham FC

The Orlando Pride sit second in the Eastern Division, thanks to a 1-0 victory over the Washington Spirit. In her first match back from international duty, Alex Morgan assisted what would prove to be the game’s only goal, setting up Sydney Leroux with a brilliantly played through ball in the 11th minute. Orlando would prevail in the highly competitive match, thanks in large part to a strong performance in goal from Ashlyn Harris, who record nine saves, including her second penalty kick stop in as many games. Harris collected NWSL Player of the Week honors for her performance in the win.

WATCH: Harris Saves Penalty


While the NWSL Challenge Cup serves as the precursor to the regular season stateside, the 2020-21 seasons are in the homestretch across the Atlantic. Manchester City’s suffered a significant, and likely fatal, blow to its title hopes after drawing league-leaders Chelsea 2-2 in a riveting matchup on April 21. Chelsea, which won the first meeting between the teams this season, maintains a two-point advantage over the Cityzens and controls its own destiny in the FA Women’s Super League title race with both sides having just two matches left to play. Man City must hope for an unlikely slip-up for Chelsea against eighth-place Tottenham or seventh-place Reading, while also winning its final two games. Abby Dahlkemper played the full 90 minutes for City while Samantha Mewis played the first 75 minutes and Rose Lavelle came on in the 64th minute.

Manchester United took the field on Sunday and put together a dominant performance start to finish for a 4-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. U.S. Women’s National Team forward Christen Press gave the Red Devils a 2-0 advantage in the 19th minute when she scored off a well-timed header. It was Press’ fourth goal of the season in league play and her second in as many outings.

WATCH: Press Header Doubles Man United Lead



U.S. midfielder Catarina Macario also found the back of the net and continued her scoring streak for Olympique Lyonnais, tallying her third goal in as many games as she helped Lyon to a 4-0 victory over Guingamp. Macario found the back of the net in the 13th minute, upping her scoring total to three goals in seven appearances overall for the French powerhouse, with two goals in league play and one in Champions League. Macario also played a hand in OL’s fourth and fifth goals, sending in a cross which resulted in an own goal to make it 4-0 and then setting up Melvine Malard’s goal in the 89th minute with a well-weighted ball in behind the defense which led to OL’s fifth and final score of the match.

WATCH: Macario Continues Scoring Streak


After defeating Lyon on away goals in the quarterfinal round, Paris Saint-Germain drew Barcelona 1-1 in the first leg of the 2021 UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinals, thanks to a set-piece goal from U.S. international Alana Cook. Cook, who participated in the USWNT’s recent camp in Europe, started for PSG at right back but came through with the heroics on the offensive end, heading in the equalizer for PSG in the 21st minute. The goal was Cook’s first since signing with the French club in 2019. The second leg of the semifinal will be played on May 2 in Barcelona, with the Spanish side holding the advantage on away goals at the moment.

WATCH: Cook Scores in Champions League Semis

Information on upcoming matches featuring U.S. Women’s National Team players can be found below. All times listed are ET.



Monday, April 26

Racing Louisville FC vs. North Carolina Courage

NWSL Challenge Cup

6:00 p.m.


Kansas City vs. Houston Dash

NWSL Challenge Cup

8:30 p.m.


Tuesday, April 27

Washington Spirit vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC

NWSL Challenge Cup

7:00 p.m.


OL Reign vs. Chicago Red Stars

NWSL Challenge Cup

10:00 p.m.


Friday, April 30

Olympique Lyonnais vs. Le Havre

D1 Arkema

12:30 p.m.


Saturday, May 1

North Carolina Courage vs. Orlando Pride

NWSL Challenge Cup

7:30 p.m.

CBS Sports Network

Sunday, May 2

Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain

UEFA Women’s Champions League

6:00 a.m.


Bristol City vs. Manchester United

Women’s Super League

9:00 a.m.

Manchester City vs. Birmingham City

Women’s Super League

10:00 a.m.

NJ/NY Gotham FC vs. Racing Louisville

NWSL Challenge Cup

12:30 p.m.


Houston Dash vs. Portland Thorns FC

NWSL Challenge Cup

7:30 p.m.



Go Deeper