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The Kronick Report: Marta-Morgan combo becoming dangerous force for the Pride

This past week of NWSL action saw both quantity and quality in goal-scoring action. Let’s dive deeper into the Marta-Morgan combination that’s starting to become a lethal attacking threat for the Pride, Rumi Utsugi’s great first-time finish against the Courage, and the first goal in Mewis’ two-goal game this past weekend.

Marta-Morgan combination leads Pride’s attack

Marta, who now has 11 goals on the season and is currently second in the Golden Boot race, added a few more this past weekend. (photo by Mark Thor, courtesy of Orlando Pride)

What Happened: Marta scores the first goal of the game in the 52nd minute to put the Pride ahead against the Spirit in an eventual 3-0 win for Orlando.

How It Happened: Marta doing Marta things! I think that’s how we have to start off the goal analysis here. She first settles the ball out of the air with a beautiful touch a little less than 60 yards from goal and starts driving up the field. Now to direct your attention to Alex Morgan is of utmost importance at this point in the play. While Marta starts to make her way up the field, Morgan’s movement is great. She frees up space for Marta who is then driving right at a completely flat back line. Morgan recognizes that and positions herself right in between two of the Spirit defenders. Marta picks her head up, sees Morgan and plays a ball right into her feet and then is immediately on the move looking to get the ball back. Morgan, knowing she’s splitting a flat back line, takes a touch and then plays a perfect through ball to Marta who’s now in a 1v1 scenario with Spirit keeper Stephanie Labbe. Then Marta does what Marta does best as a clinical finisher. She sees Labbe coming out and takes a touch completely around her to finish in the back of an empty net. Morgan’s movement to get herself in a position to help Marta split the back line and get in behind them was great. Marta, who started the play at the half way line, and then kept with it all the way through the final touch into the goal was pure class.

Rumi Utsugi rocks first-time shot into the back of the net

Rumi Utsugi scored her first goal of the 2017 NWSL season against the Courage on Sunday (photo copyright EriMac Photo for The Equalizer)

What Happened: In the 40th minute, Japan international and Seattle Reign FC midfielder Rumi Utsugi scored her first goal of the NWSL season to the the game up at 1-1. Sam Mewis’s late goal gave the North Carolina Courage the 2-1 win through 90 minutes handing the Reign their first home loss of the season.

How It Happened: The play starts off a little bit behind the halfway line when Merrit Mathias, the Seattle right back, gets the ball at her feet on the right side of the field. Mathias starts driving forward. She sees Courage forward Ashley Hatch who’s tracking over to try and slow down Mathias or at least force her to make a pass. Mathias does the exact opposite and continues to drive at Hatch, taking her on 1v1. As Hatch tries to close her down, Mathias executes a quick change of pace that puts her right by Hatch. By slowing down, Hatch went a bit flat footed and Mathias was able to quickly change her pace and bolt right past her to easily find her next pass out a bit wider up the field to teammate Lindsay Elston. Elston, who’s near the corner flag, one times a perfect, low, driven cross across the six yard box. Elston’s ball finds Rumi Utsugi, who’s darting into the box, in a picture-perfect way. She meets the ball in the air and rockets one into the back of net. She attacks the ball fearlessly and the momentum that Utsugi carries in from her burst of speed inside the box is demonstrated clearly with the force she gets behind her shot on goal. Katelyn Rowland can’t even dive in enough time to try and keep the ball out of the back of the net.

Mewis heroics give Carolina 2-1 win over Seattle

Sam Mewis scored two goals this past weekend to lead her team to a 2-1 win over Seattle in Seattle. (photo by Lewis Gettier)

What Happened: Sam Mewis scored her first of two against the Reign on Sunday in the 24th minute to give the Courage a 1-0 lead. She later capped off the day with a second goal, leading the Courage to a 2-1 victory at Seattle.

How It Happened: Jess McDonald jump starts the attack as she holds her run to get on the end of a great ball out of the Carolina back from Jalene Hinkle. Hinkle’s ball finds McDonald on the run down the left side of the pitch. Because McDonald held her run, she’s able to use a quick change of pace to outrun her Seattle defender and get on the end of that ball, now in a great position on the sideline. She takes a touch forward before slowing down a bit to get the ball under control. By doing this, she forces Seattle defender Rebekah Stott to slow herself down as well. McDonald then takes her on 1v1 and drives towards the center of the box. She picks her head up and sees Lynn Williams at the top of the box and sends a ball right into her feet. The next touch by Williams is brilliant. McDonald’s pass is definitely behind Williams, but she does an awesome job of making something happen out of it. She sees Mewis to her left and lays the ball off to her with only one touch. Mewis is then able to strike a bouncing ball first-time into the back of the net. Mewis hits the ball with great technique as she takes advantage of the bounce, which can definitely be hard to deal with sometimes. She leans over the ball and places it perfectly within the post. Kopmeyer’s outstretched hands are unable to keep it out of the net.

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