Off the Bench with Backline Soccer: 2017, Week 3


Welcome to Week 3 of Off the Bench. Next week we will be switching the format to previewing games instead of recapping as our podcast, “The Scouting Report,” will provide you with all of your game recapping needs.

Backline Soccer Recap:

We introduced another new weekly series, Four Star Takeaways from Chicago Red Stars, as well as a goalkeeper rankings series that will be updated throughout the season.

We also introduced our new Backline Soccer Forum. Join us to talk about the NWSL games and all things WoSo.

And don’t forget to check out our Backline Soccer Shop. We have team-inspired merchandise and much more to fit your WoSo wants and needs.

NWSL Week Three Game Recaps:

We’re already through three weeks of the NWSL season and so much has already happened. Let’s take a quick look at the outcome of each game.

Game 1: Portland Thorns 1 vs Chicago Red Stars 0

Portland Thorns record: 2-1-0
Position: 3rd
Total Points: 6

Chicago Red Stars record: 1-2-0
Position: 7th
Total Points: 3

Attendance: 14,471

Lifetime’s Game of the Week with the Portland Thorns and the Chicago Red Stars started off the weekend’s slate of much-anticipated matches. The game started right off on the gas pedal with both Alyssa Naeher and Adrianna Franch forced into early saves. Christen Press was trying everything she could to find the back of the net but just couldn’t quite make it happen. In the 21st minute, Press was taken out by Franch which, on replay, should have been a PK as she seemed to get hold of the foot of Press, effectively stopping her from potentially scoring a goal. Then in the 27th minute, Press was called for a handball and Nadia Nadim converted a PK, which would end up being the only goal of the match. Sofia Huerta had a huge opportunity in the 49th minute taking on three defenders, but she hit the side netting. Naeher came up with a pouncing save in 67th minute and Chicago continued to fight but in the end it was not enough. Portland took home the win 1-0.


Game 2: North Carolina Courage 3 vs Orlando Pride 1

North Carolina Courage record: 3-0-0
Position: 1st
Total Points: 9

Orlando Pride record: 0-2-1
Position: 10th
Total Points: 1

Attendance: 4,586

Saturday’s second game featured the first-ever meeting between the North Carolina Courage and the Orlando Pride, broadcast via the go90 app. This was always going to be a tough matchup for the Pride, taking on the Courage’s dominating attacking frontline, and sure enough, the Courage started off the goal scoring early. In the 6th minute, Ashlyn Harris made a great punch out save to deny a sure-fire goal by Lynn Williams but there were no Pride players to clear and Jessica McDonald banked home the rebound, putting the Courage up 1-0. Jasmyne Spencer had a big opportunity in the 14th minute but her shot went over the bar. She has had many missed opportunities to score goals through the first three games and the Pride may benefit from starting Danica Evans in her place next week.

Ashlyn Harris came up with a huge save in the 21st to deny Debinha a rocket of a goal. Finally in the 27th minute, Camila sent a rocket past the Courage’s keeper to even the game at 1. She has been a workhorse for the Pride through the first three games and will be one to watch moving forward; it’s nice to see her efforts pay off with a goal. But a handball on Laura Alleway in the 33rd minute gave Sam Mewis a chance to convert the PK and put the Courage up 2-1. In the 39th minute, Spencer played a beautiful cross to Marta but Sabrina D’Angelo comes up with a huge save. On replay, however, the ball looks like it may have crossed the goal line. Ashlyn Harris had a big miscue in the 70th minute that led to the Courage’s third goal of the night, and Lynn Williams’ first of the NWSL season. Harris played a poor ball out which the Courage intercepted, and Williams’ shot bounced hard off of the crossbar and went in. This sealed the game as the Courage continued their undefeated season with the win 3-1 over the Pride.


Game 3: Boston Breakers 3 vs Seattle Reign 0

Boston Breakers record: 2-1-0
Position: 2nd
Total Points: 6

Seattle Reign record: 1-1-1
Position: 5th
Total Points: 4

Attendance: 2,315

The next game saw the Boston Breakers taking on the Seattle Reign and what a different Reign team took the pitch this week! Gone was the dominating performance last week against the Dash, and instead the Boston Breakers took home three points and added three goals to their differential. The Breakers started off early with a supreme goal from Adriana Leon in the 11th minute. She pulled off some cheeky moves and caught Kopmeyer off of her line. Four minutes later, in the 15th minute, Rose Lavelle banked her first NWSL goal past Kopmeyer to put the Breakers up 2-0. In the 50th minute, the Reign almost found the back of the net, but were denied. Last week’s Boston hero, Natasha Dowie, then came right back in the 52nd minute, off of a beautiful assist from Adriana Leon, and put the Breakers up 3-0. The Reign looked to be struggling for most of the game against the Breakers, who have started off this season very strong. Boston, on the other hand, are seem to be making a name for themselves this season, and moving past the disappointments of previous seasons. They took home all three points with the 3-0 win over the Reign to put them just under North Carolina in the league standings this week.


Game 4: Washington Spirit 0 vs Houston Dash 1 

Washington Spirit record: 0-2-1
Position: 9th
Total Points: 1

Houston Dash record: 2-1-0
Position: 4th
Total Points: 6

Attendance: 3,154

Saturday’s last game, on simultaneously against the BOSvSEA match, was the season’s first meet-up between the Washington Spirit and the Houston Dash. This game was a tale of two halves. The Spirit came out in the first 45′ lacking fire, unable to make much happen. They’re currently a team lacking depth due to numerous injuries, and they played like it. Kealia Ohai made them pay in the 27th minute with a goal to put the Dash up 1-0. But come the second half, the Spirit looked like a different team. They took more control over the play and style but still could not come up with anything to show for it. Stephanie Labbé continues to be a dominating force for the Spirit in goal and is a huge asset for them this season. She was forced to make many saves during the match and handled pretty much all of them very well. Estelle Johnson, being underappreciated, also continues to show her worth to the Spirit side with all of the work she is doing on the field this season. Their massive injury list certainly does not help but this team still has fight in them to try and get results. They just weren’t able to connect and finish in this match, giving Houston their first-ever win in Washington.



Game 5: Sky Blue FC 1 vs FC Kansas City 0

Sky Blue FC record: 1-1-1
Position: 6th
Total Points: 4

FC Kansas City record: 1-2-0
Position: 8th
Total Points: 3

Attendance: 2,562

The final game of the weekend was a matchup between Sky Blue and FC Kansas City. Sky Blue was without some big names, including Christie Pearce (out on concussion protocol) and Sam Kerr (excused absence).  And FC Kansas City were missing a player as well, with Shea Groom suffering from a broken rib she picked up in Week 2. The game was a little underwhelming, which is unfortunate, because both teams have stellar players. Neither side could really get anything going. We saw some big stops from both goalkeepers, Kailen Sheridan and Nicole Barnhart, in the 36th and 78th minute respectively. But it wasn’t until the 83rd minute that Raquel Rodriguez put one in the back of the net for Sky Blue, off an assist from Kelley O’Hara, that put them up 1-0. In the 88th minute, it looked like FC Kansas City had found the equalizer but were called offside, a decision that had some checking the game tape later, believing the refs had erred in their judgment. The game ended with with Sky Blue winning over FC Kansas City 1-0, for their first-ever victory over the visiting Blues on their home pitch at Yurcak Field.


The Scouting Report:

The Scouting Report went live last night with our NWSL Week 3 TSR recap. Make sure to tune in every Monday at 8pm EST to catch our weekly series!

You can find last night’s TSR here:

Come back next week for the next edition of Off the Bench! And don’t forget to check out the rest of our great content created weekly on the Backline Soccer website!

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