Here are three quick thoughts looking back on Week 2 in NWSL.
The Thorns found their shooting boots
After their opening day defeat to the Courage last weekend, there were admittedly some mumbles that the Thorns may be a little toothless in the forward position. They of course lost Nadia Nadim to Manchester City during the off-season and in terms of replacement, were only able to fill the void this week with the signing of Swiss international Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic from German club Frankfurt.
Crnogorcevic will need time to adapt to the league having spent the last nine years in Germany, but in the meantime, the Thorns have a forward you might have heard of that managed a brace against the Red Stars.
Despite a quiet opening match in Cary, Christine Sinclair was back to her goal-scoring best in Chicago and was a constant thorn (pardon the terrible pun) in the side of the Red Stars, playing a much more pivotal role than she was able to in North Carolina.
The Thorns are adjusting. They have a number of new forwards that includes former Boston pair Midge Purce and Ifeoam Onumonu, and they still have the return of Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso to look forward to.
The midfield also looks different with no Allie Long, Amandine Henry and Dagny Brynjarsdottir this season, so it may take time for the Thorns to get going, but the win in Chicago was a good start.
It wouldn’t be an NWSL weekend without a little controversy or head coach outburst – but this weekend we got two of them.
After Becky Sauerbrunn was harshly penalized for a handball against Orlando on the opening weekend, Utah Head Coach Laura Harvey took to Twitter after clearly watching the Washington Spirit’s game with the Orlando Pride, where Joanna Lohman was called for a handball after the ball struck her from close range.
Harvey posted on Twitter: “Handball, can we please analyze what this means. I feel like currently we have different definitions of what handball is.” Officiating has already come under scrutiny and we are only in the second weekend of the season, but Harvey will probably feel fortunate that her midfielder Desiree Scott wasn’t sent off this weekend for a two-footed lunge.
It wasn’t only Harvey who was unhappy this weekend, as Red Stars coach Rory Dames was also vocal after his side’s loss to Portland.
Dames was furious with the goal scored by Lindsey Horan, openly criticizing an unnamed player, believed to be Sofia Huerta, for her marking on a set-piece that led to Portland’s opener inside ten minutes.
This one doesn’t look like it will end well, with such a public damning of a player not likely to be good for individual or team morale. Dames will need to nip this one in the bud sharpish, but will have to wait as Huerta is now away with the national team to play the country she transferred her FIFA registration from, Mexico.
There was no public outburst from Mark Parsons, but he was upset enough after Week 1 to get himself ejected after the whistle and then suspended for one extra game.
Orlando need key pieces back
Orlando were some people’s favorites to win it all this season (including me), and while it is far, far too early to write them off, a draw at home to Utah and a defeat in Washington is not a good look.
Losing Alex Morgan last week to concussion was a blow, but the Pride still had Sydney Leroux and Rachel Hill leading the line.
Marta and Australian pair Emily van Egmond and Alanna Kennedy are also leaving big holes in the team, but coach Tom Sermanni will need to find a way to get his team going until all his players are back – the Australians and Brazilians won’t be available for a while due to Asian Cup and Copa América Femenina duties, respectively.
With all their pieces, the Pride are dangerous. But with the players currently missing, they don’t look like a team to fear.
The Spirit on the other hand, reaped the benefits of two of their national team players scoring, with Mal Pugh and Ashley Hatch on target. The Spirit have depth in the forward positions and midfield this season – they could surprise a few people.