USWNT REWIND: Goals Abound in Challenge Cup, European Play
The U.S. Women’s National Team has reconvened in Columbus, Ohio for the April FIFA international window, but before traveling to the Buckeye State, the USWNT players wrapped up an action-packed week of play with their club teams.
In Europe, midfielders Lindsey Horan and Catarina Macario helped Olympique Lyonnais secure its spot in the UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinals with a 3-1 victory over Juventus on Thursday. Trailing 2-1 on aggregate after the opening leg, Lyon quickly flipped the script in the decisive second leg to advance 4-3 on aggregate. Horan played the full 90 minutes in what was just her third appearance since joining the club and assisted what proved to the be the winning goal in the 35th minute, serving in a pinpoint ball which forward Melvine Malard headed in to give Lyon a 2-0 lead. Macario, who scored OL’s lone goal in the first leg, added to her tally with a brilliant turn and finish in the 73rd minute. The goal was Macario’s sixth overall of the 2021-22 Champions League campaign and fifth in the main phase of the tournament. Only three players – Wolfsburg’s Tabea Wassmuth (9 goals), Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas (8) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Jordyn Huitema (6) – have found the back of the net more often during this main tournament stage. Lyon now advances to the semifinals where it will host arch-rival PSG in the first leg on April 23.
WATCH: Macario Scores, Lyon Through to Semifinal
Macario, who scored twice and collected Visa SheBelieves Cup MVP honors in her most recent showing for the USWNT, continued her stellar run of form with a goal in the 10th minute of Lyon’s 2-0 league victory over Guingamp on Sunday. She heads into the international break with goals in each of her last four appearances for Lyon across all competitions and is tied for second overall in scoring in France’s D1 Féminine with 12 goals on the season.
On the other side of the Champions League bracket, Arsenal was eliminated after a 2-0 defeat to Wolfsburg, falling to the German side 3-1 on aggregate. Tobin Heath started and played 45 minutes in the loss. The Gunners responded with a 5-0 win over Leicester City on Sunday in Women’s Super League play to maintain their lead atop the league table. Heath entered the match in the 80th minute and scored just three minutes later, which marked her second goal in league play since joining the London-based club.
Stateside, USWNT forward Mallory Pugh leads all scorers with four goals thus far in the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, bagging her second brace of the competition in a 2-0 Chicago Red Stars win Saturday night over the Houston Dash. Pugh netted her first of the night in the 32nd minute, slipping through the Dash defense and finishing from a tight angle. She scored again in the 82nd, cutting into the penalty area and rifling a right-footed shot across her body to the far post.
WATCH: Pugh Bags Brace in Red Stars Victory
The Red Stars’ win comes after playing Racing Louisville to a scoreless draw midweek in Bridgeview, Illinois. Like Chicago, Louisville also responded from the scoreless affair with a 3-0 road win Saturday over the previously unbeaten Kansas City Current.
Alex Morgan also scored a brace over the weekend, finding the back of the net twice for San Diego Wave FC for her first goals for the expansion club as the Wave recorded its first ever win with a 4-2 victory over fellow expansion side Angel City FC. Morgan’s first goal of the back-and-forth affair came in first-half stoppage time as she authoritatively put away a bouncing ball in the box to give San Diego a 2-1 lead at the half. Christen Press soon came through with the equalizer for Angel City, finishing a half-volley in the 59th minute in what was also her first goal for her new club.
WATCH: Press Opens Angel City Account
However, San Diego responded with what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 72nd as Morgan tallied her second of the game with a right-footed one-time finish to put the hosts from San Diego back in front.
WATCH: Second Goal by Morgan Secures San Diego Win
Elsewhere in the NWSL Challenge Cup West Division, Portland opened the week with a 3-0 victory over Angel City on Wednesday night. Forward Sophia Smith scored her second goal in as many games, putting Portland ahead in the 31st minute when she sliced through the Angel City defense and capped off her run with a blast to the right corner. The Thorns added to their advantage shortly after halftime and an impressive 78th-minute strike from Morgan Weaver secured the 3-0 victory for the home side.
WATCH: Smith Scores Midweek Game Winner in Portland
However, Portland’s winning streak came to an end on Sunday night, as rivals OL Reign topped the Thorns, 1-0, at Providence Park. Rose Lavelle scored the game’s only goal in the 74th minute with an emphatic right-footed finish to lift the Reign to victory over their Cascadia rivals.
WATCH: Game Winner for Lavelle in Rose City
The Washington Spirit overcame a 2-0 goal halftime deficit to earn a point at home on Wednesday night, playing the North Carolina Courage to a 2-2 draw. Trinity Rodman started the comeback with a goal in the 58th minute assisted by her USWNT teammate Andi Sullivan. Less than ten minutes later, forward Ashley Hatch scored the equalizer with a powerful header in the 67th minute. The goal gave Hatch, the reigning NWSL Golden Boot winner, goals in back-to-back games for the Spirit.
WATCH: Hatch Heads in Equalizer for Washington
The Spirit carried that scoring touch into Sunday, beating the Orlando Pride, 4-1. Ashley Sanchez opened the scoring for the Spirit with a goal in the 43rd minute while Sullivan found the back of the net just two minutes later. The momentum carried into the second half when Hatch extended her scoring streak to three games in a row with a goal in the 49th minute. Forward Trinity Rodman, who assisted both Spirit goals in the first half, added a tally of her own in the 87th minute, finishing off an assist from Kelley O’Hara.
WATCH: Rodman Closes Out Spirit Scoring Spree
Last year’s NWSL Challenge Cup finalists NJ/NY Gotham FC earned their first win of the 2022 Challenge Cup with a 1-0 road win over Orlando on Wednesday night. Margaret Purce scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute, pouncing on a ball played over the defense and deftly finishing past the on-rushing Orlando goalkeeper.
WATCH: Purce Provides Late Winner For Gotham
Gotham picked up another point on Sunday evening, scoring in the 84th minute off a Kristie Mewis corner kick to draw the visiting Courage, 1-1.
Club action will resume following the FIFA international window, during which the U.S. Women’s National Team will play to matches against Uzbekistan as preparations continue for the upcoming Concacaf W Championship, which will serve as qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and also provides the opportunity for direct qualification to the 2024 Summer Olympics. In the first-ever matches between the USA and Uzbekistan, the teams will meet on Saturday, April 9 at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio (5:30 p.m. ET on FOX and Univision Networks) and then again on Tuesday, April 12 at Subaru Park in Chester, Pa. (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and Univision Networks).