NWSL Week 1 was marred by severe injuries to players we know and love, confusion about how to watch the games and broadcasting glitches. But it wasn’t all bad, so let’s focus on the good to come out of the NWSL in the recent days.
Daly, Ohai goal celebration knocks it outta the park
Everyone loves a good goal, and everyone loves a good goal celebration. Some players have their go-to goal celebrations that have become nearly iconic: Christen Press running with her arms wide open, Kendall Fletcher’s flip, and Megan Rapinoe’s leap.
And now, the Daly-Ohai homerun.
In the 15th minute of the Houston Dash’s home opener, Kealia Ohai scored the first goal of the 2017 NWSL season, putting a low shot past Chicago keeper Alyssa Naeher and into side netting. She then ran ran back to where Rachel Daly was waiting, imaginary softball in hand, before knocking Daly’s pitch out of the park.
— Rachel Daly (@RachelDaly3) April 17, 2017
The goal celebration was a hit. Gifs of the homerun celebration began circulating the Internet and social media soon after, and quickly as much of a talking point as Ohai’s and Daly’s goals. So how did the two come up with the idea?
“Basically we were in Portland on the preseason tournament and I think everyone was pretty sort of flat in training–I would say the word flat–and so we tried to sort of pump people up a little bit and we were doing a possession game,” Daly said. “Me and Kealia are very competitive and we never are really on the same team for stuff like that, but we were on the same team and for some unbeknown reason–I have no idea, I honestly could not tell anybody why–we just started pretending like we were throwing softballs celebrating. So then she happened to throw one–a fake softball–and I pretended to hit it and that was it. We were just like ‘Oh my goodness, we have to do this in a celebration if one of us score.’ And obviously it so happened that both of us scored, so we both got to do it.”
The celebration may be an inadvertent reference to a team joke about Daly’s “random” love of a softball, a sport she says she took up shortly after coming over to America. She fell in love with the sport while at St. John’s University and was friends with a number of players on the team.
That love of softball may just come in handy, though, as Ohai and Daly’s goal celebration has earned Daly the attention of Monica Abbott, an Olympic silver-medalist pitcher for the U.S. softball team and current pitcher for the Scrap Yard Dawgs, a professional fastpitch softball team in Texas. The team has since invited Daly to throw out the opening pitch at one of their games. Will she be taking the team up on the offer?
“Absolutely. I’d love to.”
Until then, fans hoping to see the goal celebration live are in luck, as Daly said she and Ohai plan to continue the celebration for at least the next few games. And, depending on what happens during training, they may debut some new celebrations as the season progresses.
#MartaWatch brings unprecedented excitement to NWSL
— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) April 21, 2017
Say what you want about the Orlando Pride or Marta, but her signing with the club is the biggest signing in NWSL history, hands down. A team in just its second season bringing in a five-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year is unprecedented. And fans are ecstatic for her arrival, as proven by last night’s Marta Watch.
A large crowd of Orlando Pride staff and fans gathered at the airport to formally greet the star to the city and the team. Members of The Crown, the Pride’s official supporter’s group, beat on drums and cheered during the wait, bringing the same electric atmosphere to the airport that they bring to the stadium on game days. Fans who couldn’t make it to the airport in person followed along on social media, following the hashtag #MartaWatch or tuning in to fan-shot live streams of the event. The excitement only heightened when Marta made her entrance, greeting the same fans who have waited weeks for her arrival.
Never before has the NWSL seen anything like Marta Watch, and it was amazing to see how fans from all over the country, not just Orlando, are excited about her playing in the league. Regardless of whether she can turn the Pride into a serious playoff contender, one thing is for certain, the excitement she’s brought to the Pride and to the league is something all fans should be excited about.
— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) April 21, 2017
Mayors make NWSL charity wager
— City of Beaverton (@CityofBeaverton) April 14, 2017
On Friday, April 14, Beaverton, Oregon Mayor Denny Doyle took to the city’s Twitter account to make a charity wager with the mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer. Doyle said he was positive the Portland Thorns would defeat the Orlando Pride on opening day and was willing to put $250 of his own money on the line to prove it. If he lost, he’d donate the money to the City of Orlando’s Parramore Kidz Zone, an outreach to help the children of Orlando’s highest poverty neighborhood be successful. Mayor Dyer accepted Mayor Doyle’s bet, offering to donate the same amount to the charity of Doyle’s choice if the Pride lost.
The Pride did lose, dropping their season opener to the Thorns, 2-0. Keeping up his end of the bet, Mayor Dyer will be donating $250 to HomePlate Drop-In, an organization that provides drop-in centers and outreach workers for homeless youth in Washington County, Oregon. Although his team lost, Mayor Dyer helped to make sure some of Beaverton’s local youths won.
As for the next meeting, Mayor Dyer said, “Hopefully with Alex Morgan and Marta, the result will be different when the teams meet in Orlando!”
Friday Favorites follow-up
Since last week’s column featuring the Playing for Pride campaign, even more players have joined on. Katie Stengel and Sam Mewis were the campaign’s two NWSL players at the time of publication, but soon after McCall Zerboni, Jessica McDonald and Joanna Lohman also joined. On Wednesday, Mewis’s SportingChic co-founders Stephanie McCaffrey and Kristie Mewis joined her in the campaign, with McCaffrey adding a $20 donation for every right-footed goal Kristie Mewis scores. (Anyone with ideas on a donation idea for Sam Mewis are welcome to send them to McCaffrey on Twitter.) Yesterday Lynn Williams, the 2016 NWSL MVP and Golden Boot winner, became the fourth member of the North Carolina Courage to join the campaign. That brings the campaign to 27 total players and eight NWSL players, although Lohman will be missing the rest of the 2017 season with a torn ACL. The campaign has also raised more than $3,000 for the Human Rights Campaign.
Allison’s Friday Favorites will feature positive, encouraging or otherwise uplifting stories from around the world of WoSo every week. All of the columns can be found here.