Week 6 of the NWSL season has come and gone. This was probably the most normal week of the NWSL season yet. But just when you started to get comfortable, midweek games are starting to appear. So to prepare you for Week 7, let’s look back at our takeaways from the last round of games.
Sky Blue FC & Portland No Strangers to Earning Penalty Kicks – Luis Hernandez
Alright, it’s no secret around here, I’ve followed the Orlando Pride since the beginning. When you support a new team, there’s always going to be a series of firsts to look forward to which will be a part of team history. Steph Catley recorded the first goal for the team, and she also provided the first assist last year. What’s my point? I’m still waiting for a PRO referee to point to the spot for Orlando, even though the Pride top the Fouls Suffered list.
Ending Week 6, Sky Blue FC and the Portland Thorns both earned a penalty kick which helped them get a positive result. In fact, Sky Blue has had four PKs called in their favor and the Thorns has had three so far. This isn’t an accident because last year both teams led the league in Penalty Kick Attempts, four PKA in 20 games. Remember, it’s Week 6 and Sarah Killion has four penalty kick goals this season alone, while Nadia Nadim has three. I don’t know if both teams can keep that pace up, but how do you explain those numbers? Either the clubs are being coached a specific way, or the soccer gods, or, I don’t know, PRO, but it’s something.
Pride Show Grit to Take a Point in Seattle – Luis Hernandez
It wasn’t pretty, and it surely wasn’t the way Coach Tom Sermanni expected his side to leave Memorial Stadium. However, I’m sure he’ll take the road point considering he lost team captain Ashlyn Harris to a hip injury, and had to call on recently signed Caroline Stanley since the normal backup goalkeeper was out with a concussion. It’s doubtful Stanley has been in Orlando the full week, but she took the field like a pro.
The point in Seattle demonstrates how much the second-year team has matured, and the improvements Sermanni has been able to make from one year to the next. Last season, the Pride fell to the Reign when they put up five goals on the less than stellar Orlando defense. At times, the Pride had to do everything it could to absorb the Seattle pressure, but as a team, Orlando was able to withstand it. Last year’s team could easily have given up more goals. There is something to be said for the feeling of seeing growth and improvement from the Pride who could only manage one draw last season.
Shea Groom Will Never Stop Going – Jordan Small
When Shea Groom exited the field after being subbed off this weekend, the first thing she did when she got with the trainer at the bench was to remove the huge piece of protective equipment that was covering her side. Groom has been playing since Week 1 with a broken rib on her left side. Yet somehow, she keeps going. She has not pulled back on a challenge and is still a very important piece to the physical front line of FCKC.
In the post-game press conference, head coach Vlatko Andonovski spoke about how they are trying to be careful with Groom because they don’t want this to turn into a situation where she is out for months. However, he said that she doesn’t want to ever slow down and they are playing on a fine line with her. While she may not be scoring for KC, the fact that she is out there every week is simply incredible.
The Three Back is Struggling in the NWSL – Jordan Small
Six weeks into the season, we have seen many teams attempt a three-back. Many have tried and many have failed at this experiment. The latest example of this was Chicago’s dismantling of the North Carolina Courage backline today. With that, it is hard to believe that any teams will continue to attempt this system. It’s just not working.
We’ve also seen Seattle and Washington try their hands at the tricky backline, but both have now gone back to the traditional four back. This is honestly for the best. It is very difficult to play a three-back week in and week out because of the high quality of strikers in this league. It’s one thing for the national teams to try it, but it’s a whole different ball game in the NWSL.
Rocky Rodriguez is Good at Scoring – Leigh Nieves
Maybe it was Raquel Rodriguez’s pre-game story that aired on Lifetime before Sky Blue’s face off with Houston, but the girl was on fire during their Saturday match. She drew their PK in the 19th minute to give them a 1-0 lead and also scored the game-winner in the 85th minute allowing Sky Blue to leave with three points.
The reigning Rookie of the Year has been in the shadow of Sarah Killion so far this season, since Killion is currently the league’s all-time leading goal scorer, but all signs are pointing to Rodriguez just starting to warm up.
Beverly Yanez Remains Consistent – Leigh Nieves
Yanez has been a part of the Reign since 2014. She also has scored 15 goals in that time, three of which have been during this season. On a team where that often sings high praises of players like Megan Rapinoe, Jess Fishlock, Naho Kawasumi, and Kim Little (until she returned home to play for Arsenal L.F.C.), Yanez is a player that has often been overlooked. This could be a testament to the strength of some of the Reign’s strikers, but Beverly has been a consistent staple for the team since her arrival and 2017 seems no different.
Those are our takeaways from Week 6 of the NWSL. So Week 7, whatcha got for us? We want to hear from you on these and any thoughts you may have. Consider leaving us a comment, and we’ll see you with new takeaways next week!