USWNT REWIND: Lyon Starts League Campaign, Thorns Reclaim NWSL Top Spot Entering September International Break


As U.S. Women’s National Team heads back into training camp for its first games following the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the players wrapped up another important weekend of competition for their club teams.

Just three match days remain in the NWSL regular season, with all six playoff spots and the 2023 NWSL Shield up for grabs.

Defending NWSL champions and two-time Shield winners Portland Thorns FC moved one step closer to a third regular season crown, defeating rivals OL Reign 2-0 on Saturday night at Providence Park to move back to the top of the table. The Thorns scored twice midway through the first half, scoring in the 30th and 36th minutes to seize the momentum in the Cascadia clash. The Thorns held the Reign to three shots on goal on the night and withstood a flurry of crosses and attacks down the flank from the Seattle side to preserve the clean sheet. Portland moves back into first place in the standings with 32 points from 19 games while the Reign are in fifth with 27 points.

In yet another showing of the competitiveness of the NWSL, one of the top teams in the standings, San Diego Wave FC, which entered the weekend in first place, had its three-game winning streak snapped by one of the teams near the bottom, losing 2-1 loss at home to the Kansas City Current. The Current came out on the attack and took a 2-0 lead in the first half-hour of play with a stunning goal from Brazilian international Debinha in the third minute and a strike from Kristen Hamilton in the 22nd. San Diego battled to get back into the game, pushing hard to reduce the deficit in a hand-fought and physical affair. The Wave pulled one back in the  50th minute but could not come up with the equalizer and now sit second overall in the table, two points back of the first-place Thorns. Despite being 11th in the standings, the Current remain mathematically in contention for the playoffs, another testament to the parity of this NWSL season.

NJ/NY Gotham FC picked up a massive three points, earning its first win since July 9 with a 2-0 victory over the Washington Spirit on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. Gotham and Washington, which entered the weekend fifth and sixth, respectively, in the league standings, were deadlocked until just past the hour mark when Spanish international and recent Gotham signing Esther Gonzalez scored twice in a span of five minutes. Playing in her first game at home for her new club, Gonzalez found the back of the net in the 65th minute and tallied again in the 70th off an assist from Lynn Williams, which marked Williams’ second assist and ninth goal involvement overall of the regular season. With the victory, Gotham, which finished last in the league in 2022, is now third in the standings and in prime contention for a first-round playoff bye. The Spirit, who won the NWSL Championship in 2021, are in sixth and looking to secure the club’s fifth trip to the NWSL postseason.

The North Carolina Courage dropped to fourth in the standings following a 2-1 road loss to the Orlando Pride on Sunday night. The Pride got off to a torrid start, scoring just 39 seconds into the match for the fastest goal in club history. Orlando doubled its lead with a goal 32nd minute goal from Brazilian international Adriana to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room. The Courage pulled one back in the 52nd minute with the assist coming from Emily Fox but could not come up with the equalizer as the Pride took all three points to move into seventh in the standings, just one point back of the Washington Spirit in sixth. 

Angel City FC extended its unbeaten run to club record of eight consecutive games with a back-and-forth 2-2 draw on the road against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday evening. Angel City, which has not lost a regular season match since June 10, took a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute and maintained that advantage until a flurry of goals in late in the second half. The Red Stars tied the match at 1-1 in the 68th minute but Angel City quickly reclaimed the lead as Japanese international Jun Endo scored just three minutes later. The Red Stars would not be deterred at home and equalized again in the 75th minute with a strike from Jamaican international Cheyna Matthews and the match ended in a 2-2 draw. Angel City is now in eighth place, level with the Pride on points, while the Red Stars are in 12th.

Racing Louisville FC saw its five-game unbeaten streak come to an end on Friday night, suffering a 1-0 defeat to the Houston Dash at home. Houston netted the only goal in the evenly-matched affair in the 54th minute and held on for the club’s first victory since June 3. The Dash are now 10th in the league standings with 23 points, three points out of playoff contention while Louisville is ninth, two points back of the Washington Spirit who currently hold the sixth and final playoff spot.

In France, Lindsey Horan and reigning champions Olympique Lyon kicked off the 2023-24 Division 1 Féminine season with a 4-0 victory over Le Havre on Friday evening. Horan played the full 90 minutes as the 16-time league champions began their pursuit of a third consecutive French title.