Week 3 in the young NWSL season is at a close, and the standings are a bit unexpected. Do we believe the top five are the best of the best this season? Or will one of the current bottom-dwellers be able to right the ship and turn their season around? Verizon’s go90 streams aside, it’s been a sweet season so far, with plenty of action and upsets. (Sorry, Pride fans, but hey, at least you had #MartaWatch.)
Here’s what we took away from the matches going into Week 4.
The Dash Bounce Back in Washington — Jordan Small
Last week, the Houston Dash fell to the Seattle Reign 5-1 and for a ninety painful minutes, it seemed as if we were seeing the Dash of old again. With multiple starters out and a rookie goalkeeper making her professional debut, it was not the best performance from Houston.
One week later, they put in a stronger performance against a struggling Washington side. The backline of Cari Roccaro, Bruna, Janine Van Wyk, and Camille Levin was solid and eliminated most of the danger before it got to goalkeeper Lydia Williams. A goal from captain Kealia Ohai in the 28’ gave the Dash the lead and ultimately the 1-0 win. If the Dash can continue to have a consistent defense and constant production from Ohai and Rachel Daly, Houston will continue to pick up points. This is a very talented Dash team that can win on the road and at home.
Lack of Goalscoring is Crushing the Spirit in Washington — Jordan Small
Through three games this season, the Washington Spirit have only given up three goals. That seems like it would be few enough to pick up a couple of points for the Spirit. But if you thought that, you would be wrong. The Spirit have only earned themselves one point through three matches thanks to a lack of scoring.
Last year, the Spirit relied heavily on Crystal Dunn and Estefania Banini to carry the scoring load. With both of them heading overseas to play, Washington was left without a pure goalscorer. This has come back to bite them in the butt, especially with all of the injuries that are piling up. Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé and the backline of Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church, and Shelina Zadorsky have remained positive through the whole process, despite the heavy workload they have had to take on. While they are one of the stingiest defenses in the league, the lack of finishing in the final third is a real problem for the Spirit.
North Carolina Courage Aren’t Just a Flash in the Pan –Luis Hernandez
Okay, I’ll admit it. I didn’t think the Courage would replicate the success from the end of the 2016 season going into 2017. I was sure they would be good, just not the best team in the league. Yes, two of the three wins are against the current ninth and tenth place teams, but it’s how North Carolina beat Washington and Orlando both times yielding possession and making the most of their opportunities.
The Courage have an identity and stick to their game plan. Orlando’s mental miscues allowed the cool, calm and collected Carolina side to put away easy finishes. The Pride attacked the Courage with individual effort all match long, so the NC defense was a bit relaxed, and allowed Orlando to score the first goal against them in team history. Had Orlando been able to attack with greater numbers, we might have seen a different result. North Carolina were never really under any pressure, and looked comfortable allowing Orlando to be ineffective against D’Angelo in net. Hopefully, the match against the Breakers will test the Courage better. The defending champs have not looked uncomfortable for any stretch of time this season, and Boston would be wise to do what they did to Seattle at home against the Courage. Otherwise it’s four-in-a-row for North Carolina.
FC Kansas City Still Figuring Things Out After Injuries –Luis Hernandez
The injury bug hasn’t been kind to the Blues. The Amy Rodriguez injury is still a sad point in the NWSL season, and I’m not even a fan of FCKC. In Week 3 Shea Groom joined her on the injury report with a broken rib, so Coach Vlatko Andonovski turned to the 4-2-3-1 for the first time this season with Sydney Leroux as the lone striker, away from the 4-3-3 of the two previous matches. Unfortunately, FC Kansas City couldn’t manage any goals while Raquel Rodriguez managed to get one past Nicole Barnhart, and FCKC now sits at 8th on the table going into Week 4.
The upcoming match for the Blues could be just what the doctor ordered, as FCKC hosts Orlando at Children’s Mercy Victory Field. The Pride have yet to figure things out this season, and the possible return of Groom and more time to practice in the 4-2-3-1 could provide FCKC some momentum in the first of a two-game homestand. Kansas City can’t afford to get mired near the bottom of the table after such optimism entering the season. Was A-Rod’s injury just a premonition of how the season was going to turn out? We’ll just have to see.
Boston is a Little Scary —Leigh Nieves
After defeating Sky Blue FC last week in a less than convincing win, Boston came away this week with an impressive 3-0 victory against Seattle. Yes, you read that correctly. Boston is now on a two-game winning streak, and both of the games were shutouts. Rose Lavelle scored her first professional goal against Seattle while Dowie and Leon put away two more to secure the win. While Seattle wasn’t playing their best game and made plenty of mistakes defensively, Boston is becoming more and more convincing as a potential middle-to-top of the table team.
I’m not saying that I told Rose Lavelle after I interviewed her in February that Boston was going to prove people wrong this season, but I told Rose Lavelle after I interviewed her in February that Boston was going to prove people wrong this season.
Do We Actually Miss the YouTube Streams? –Leigh Nieves
It’s Week 3 and we have yet to have a weekend where something hasn’t gone wrong with go90 or Lifetime. Whether it’s continuous commercials about quarterbacks, a black screen, or a random movie with Viola Davis interrupting our starting lineup, the whole viewing experience of Season 5 has been less than pleasant. We understand that there are kinks that need to be worked out from time to time, but is it time we, in a Carrie Bradshaw-esque way, ask ourselves: Do we actually miss the dependability of YouTube streams?
Of course Youtube had its flaws: the poor video quality, sound issues, etc. But, every week we at least knew that we would be able to see the games we wanted. While the production quality of the new Go90 and Lifetime streams are much better, their ability to deliver a consistent product each week leaves us a little less than confident.
There you have it, folks. Our big takeaways from Week 3 are starting to heat up like the weather heading into the summer on a four p.m. kick-off. We want to hear from you on these and any thoughts. Consider leaving us a comment, and we’ll see you for Week 4.