Many Happy Returns: NWSL Power Rankings, Week 15 Edition

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The National Women’s Soccer League returned to action after an international break, and it certainly did not disappoint. With the Euros wrapping up, the European contingent minus Denmark made their return to action, as did most of the Tournament of Nations participants. And the return of NWSL means the return of the Power Rankings.

1 (+1). Portland Thorns FC (8-4-4; def. Houston 2-1)

A surging Portland team hosted Houston in a mid-morning matchup, and it was the Thorns who jumped out to a first half lead when a free kick fell to Emily Sonnett, who easily tapped it in. The Dash were given an opportunity to equalize after Lindsey Horan was called for a foul in the box, which they converted on. But Portland did not have to wait for long to restore their lead. Tyler Lussi shrugged off two Houston defenders in the box and slotted home the Thorns’ second goal, a lead which the home side would hang onto for the remainder of regulation and their third straight win.

Next match: 8/12 @ Chicago at 8 PM EST.

2 (+2). North Carolina Courage (10-5-0; def. Seattle 1-0)

North Carolina welcomed Seattle for the second time this season, and just as before, it would be the Courage who came out on top. The lone goal came in the first half when Makenzy Doniak forced a turnover in the Courage attacking half and crossed to Lynn Williams, who placed her shot just far enough into the corner to record her first goal since May. The North Carolina defense limited the Reign to few dangerous chances over the 90 minutes, and Katelyn Rowland only had to make two saves for her 5th shutout of the season.

Next matches: 8/10 @ Kansas City at 8 PM EST, 8/13 @ Seattle at 9 PM EST.

3 (-2). Chicago Red Stars (8-3-5; drew Orlando 1-1)

Chicago went down to Orlando hoping to record their 5th straight win over the Pride but were put behind in the first half, the first time they had ever conceded the opening goal to Orlando. With several stars resting due to international duty, the Red Stars were on the back foot for the majority of the match. But Sofia Huerta was able to salvage a point for Chicago with a curling strike in the second half, and the Red Stars’ defense withstood a late spell of pressure from Orlando to earn a hard fought result.

Next match: 8/12 vs Portland at 8 PM EST.

4 (+1). Seattle Reign FC (6-4-6; lost to North Carolina 1-0)

Seattle had plenty to celebrate heading into their second trip to North Carolina. Jess Fishlock returned from injury to the Reign lineup, and both Lauren Barnes and Christine Nairn recorded their 100th regular season appearances. But the good news ended there, as Seattle were put under the trademark high pressure of the Courage and struggled to maintain possession. The Reign were made to pay for their sloppy passing as a turnover led to a shot that slipped under Haley Kopmeyer for the only goal of the game. While Seattle did get a handful of second half chances, none of those chances were much trouble for the NC defense, and the Reign headed home empty handed.

Next match: 8/13 vs North Carolina at 9 PM EST.

5 (+2). Orlando Pride (5-6-5; drew Chicago 1-1)

An Orlando squad depleted by international absences faced off against a Chicago team also hit with internationals missing, and it was the Pride who took advantage first. Alex Morgan slipped past the Red Stars defense and rifled a shot into the side netting to open the scoring. But despite dominating the first half, Orlando could not add a second goal and were left to rue the missed chances when Chicago equalized in the second half. A late push by the Pride could not produce a winning goal, and Orlando was forced to settle for a draw.

Next matches: 8/8 vs Washington at 7:30 PM EST, 8/12 vs Sky Blue at 7:30 PM EST.

6 (-4). Sky Blue FC (7-8-2; lost to Washington 1-4)

Sky Blue took on Washington at home and looked to be on their way to victory when Maya Hayes opened the scoring in the second minute, giving the home side a lead they would hold to halftime. But the defensive frailties that have plagued Sky Blue for most of the season were fully exploited by the Spirit in the second half, and four unanswered goals by the visitors saw Sky Blue suffer their worst loss of the season.

Next match: 8/12 @ Orlando at 7:30 PM EST.

7 (-1). Houston Dash (6-8-2; lost to Portland 2-1)

Houston went on the road to Portland and saw their 6-game unbeaten streak put in jeopardy after the Thorns scored on a free kick in the first half. After having an equalizer disallowed for offside, the Dash finally pulled level through a Carli Lloyd penalty. But Portland regained their lead six minutes later, and Houston were left chasing the game in a frustrating second half that saw limited chances for the visitors and ultimately were sent packing without points.

Next match: 8/13 vs Kansas City at 8:30 PM EST.

8 (+2). Washington Spirit (4-8-3; def. Sky Blue 1-4)

It was a tale of two halves for Washington as they traveled to Sky Blue and fell behind in the second minute. Despite some opportunities to equalize, the Spirit were unable to capitalize on those chances and were still trailing at halftime. But the second half proved a different story. Arielle Ship finally found the equalizer in the 51st minute, Cheyna Williams scored the game-winning goal ten minutes later, and both Meggie Dougherty-Howard and Havana Solaun added tallies to give Washington a massive win and the three points to take them out of last place.

Next matches: 8/8 @ Orlando at 7:30 PM EST, 8/12 vs Boston at 3:30 PM EST.

9 (-1). Boston Breakers (3-7-6; drew Kansas City 2-2)

Boston hosted Kansas City in a battle of two teams in search of a badly needed win, but it was the visitors who got on the board first, ending Sammy Jo Prudhomme’s shutout streak with a first half goal. But the Breakers responded quickly, with Rosie White scoring twice in four minutes to give her side the lead. Boston would carry their lead into the final 10 minutes of regulation, before sloppy defending allowed the Blues to net the equalizer, leaving the Breakers with only a single point.

Next match: 8/12 @ Washington at 3:30 PM EST.

10 (-1). FC Kansas City (3-7-5; drew Boston 2-2)

Kansas City headed east to Boston looking for a win to stay off the bottom of the standings and started off well in the first half when a long run by Desiree Scott eventually set up a tap in by Maegan Kelly to give the Blues the lead. Their lead was short-lived, however, as Boston scored two goals within four minutes to send KC into the half with a deficit. But Erika Tymrak, who came on in the second half, scored an equalizer with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation to end KC’s club record losing streak.

Next matches: 8/10 vs North Carolina at 8 PM EST, 8/13 @ Houston at 8:30 PM EST.

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