6 Takeaways From NWSL: Week Five


After five weeks of play in the NWSL, we’ve seen that anyone can beat anyone. Just look at Orlando beating North Carolina. How many of you called that one? But perhaps the biggest news of the weekend was Washington adding Mallory Pugh to their roster. Now we could go on all day, but we know you’re here for our takeaways. Here’s what we took away from week 5 of the NWSL.

Where has Adriana Leon been all this time? – Leigh Nieves

Leon has been an undeniable stand out for the Boston Breakers in their first 5 games coming away with 2 assists and 1 goal thus far. Which may not seem like an impressive number, but a simple eye test would tell you that she is a completely different player from the one we saw for the Western New York Flash in 2016. She seems to be a part of every attack, her passing is much more precise, and her connections with Rose Lavelle and Natasha Dowie seem to be flourishing. Although most of the attention this season has (rightly so) been on Lavelle, the rise of Leon has been interesting to witness.

FCKC needs to score more – Leigh Nieves

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but FC Kansas City hasn’t scored much since they unexpectedly lost Amy Rodriguez from their starting line up in the first game. In fact, they’ve only scored one goal in their last four match-ups bringing their season total to a whopping 3 goals. Fortunately though, they’ve also only allowed 3 goals. FCKC’s defense actually is having a vintage season. Nicole Barnhart is playing strong, Broon is Broon, and with the talent of newcomer Christina Gibbons, their backline is seeming pretty solid. Their attack is another story. It’s problematic that even with the addition of Sydney Leroux, they can’t seem get anything in the back of the net when they need it most… Is this a sad time that I bring up how much we miss Heather O’Reilly?

Nahomi Kawasumi is the real deal – Jordan Small

We’ve seen Nahomi Kawasumi play for the Seattle Reign off and on for years now. But Saturday’s performance vs. the Washington Spirit was unlike any we’ve seen before. With four assists and a goal of her own, Kawasumi helped the Reign offense explode for six goals. Kawasumi and midfielder Christine Nairn worked well together this week, combining for the opening goal this weekend. Teams should be afraid to play the Reign in the next few weeks as the partnership of Megan Rapinoe and Kawasumi on the wings has started to heat up.

Lost in it all, a streak is over – Jordan Small

It has been a quite a while since we saw Kassey Kallman sitting on the bench. Since 2014, Kallman had played 4,018 minutes straight in the NWSL. That streak came to an end on Saturday when she was subbed out in the 59th minute. If she was not hurt, this sub seems wrong. The Spirit were torched down the left side after Kallman came out. Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra will have a difficult decision to make next week when Kansas City comes to town.

Attendance still an issue – Luis Hernandez

It’s hard to pinpoint the cause for the drop in attendance this year. Critics will point the finger to the change in match time to accommodate the broadcast on Lifetime,  and it’s true that plays a factor into the numbers; however, that’s not the sole reason. The schedule has run into Easter and Mother’s Day and surely within each individual team market there are extenuating circumstances. Take both Orlando’s week five attendance of 5,260 and the best of the week Houston at 5,369. In both markets, the men’s side hosted an MLS match the day before the women’s side took to the field. Mother’s Day certainly affected people going to these matches, especially for the Pride playing on Sunday. Additionally, it’s blazing hot in the stands. Bottom line, attendance is lower than last season, but it isn’t going to be fixed this year. Hopefully, the league has been and will continue studying the problem and make corrections to boost numbers.

Randy Waldrum might be what’s wrong with Houston – Luis Hernandez

19-37-14. Take it in because that’s the record Randy Waldrum has since being appointed coach of the Houston Dash since leaving Notre Dame to take the job. Known as a successful college coach, Waldrum hasn’t been able to translate that success at the professional level. Additionally, as he was coaching the Dash, Waldrum also took the unpaid position as national team coach for Trinidad and Tobago in 2014 and was let go in early 2016. The Dash haven’t developed and progressed under his leadership even as the team talent level grows. Talent can only take you so far in this league, a quality manager makes those adjustments to get the most from the players on the roster. Waldrum’s post match comments after the lose to Sky Blue FC started to indicate he may be losing the locker room. I think he makes it to the end of the year, but perhaps Dash fans this is as good as it gets until Houston decides to go a different direction.

Well, those are our takeaways from week five of the NWSL. Can this league get any crazier? Will they finally figure out how to work these streams? Tune in for week 6 of the NWSL to find out. What did you think about week five? We would love to hear from you in the comments below or find us on twitter @backlinesoccer.


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