The Utah Royals are in the win column. Spurred on by two top-shelf defensive plays by Diana Matheson, NWSL’s newest side beat the Washington Spirit, 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah.
In the 7th minute, Matheson won a ball off Caprice Dydasco near the touch line by the benches. Matheson turned and played forward to Amy Rodriguez who was quickly surrounded by three Spirit defenders. Taking the ball down with expertise, Rodriguez was able to turn and beat all three with a through-ball to Kelley O’Hara who timed her run perfectly and beat Aubrey Bledsoe to give the Royals an early lead.
Matheson did it again in the 66th minute and this time reaped the rewards by getting on the score sheet. Taylor Smith attempted to switch the point along the back line and Matheson jumped on the slowly hit cross, won the 50/50 from Estelle Johnson, and recovered to chip it by Bledsoe as she stormed off her line.
The Royals (1-1-4, 7 pts) will continue their four-match homestand Wednesday night against Orlando. The Spirit (1-3-2, 5 pts) are in North Carolina next Saturday.
- Royals – O’Hara (Rodriguez)
- Royals – Matheson (unassisted)
— Dan Lauletta
Dash get first win for Vera Pauw
Second half subs Thembi Kgetlana and Veronica Latsko combined on the game-winning goal to give the Dash their first win of the season, and first for head coach Vera Pauw, 3-2 away to Sky Blue FC. Latsko finished a cross from Kgetlana against the run of play to give the Dash their third lead of the night after they had scored only one goal in five previous games this season. Katie Johnson hit two equalizers for Sky Blue after Nichelle Prince and Rachel Daly had given the Dash leads.
The Dash opened with a tap-in by Prince off a corner kick, but the workhorse on the play was Agnew who hustled to the back post to keep the ball in play after Kristie Mewis’s corner looked like it had sailed by everyone. That was all the scoring for the first half, but Sky Blue leveled it with a gorgeous stretch of soccer. Carli Lloyd played a switching ball to second half sub Shea Groom who beat Kimberly Keever and crossed it to Johnson for her first Sky Blue goal.
No sooner had the Dash lost the lead than they got it back. Rachel Daly’s free kick was cleared away but she got it back on the recycle and sent a cross that looked destined to die an easy death. Sky Blue keeper Kailen Sheridan went up for it and inadvertently knocked it into her own goal. Daly, starting at forward for the first time in 2018, was credited with her first of the season.
Johnson tied it again off a short corner kick. It set the stage for Latsko to tie it and give the Dash their first win since August 16. They improved to 1-3-2 (6 points) and return home for a Wednesday home match against the league champion Thorns. Sky Blue (0-3-1, 1 point) remain at the bottom of the table. They are in Seattle next Saturday.
- Dash – Prince (Agnew)
- Sky Blue – Johnson (Groom)
- Dash – Daly (Ohai)
- Sky Blue – Johnson (Killion)
- Dash – Latsko (Kgetlana)
— Dan Lauletta
Portland Thorns 2, Seattle Reign 3
The Thorns and the Reign got top billing in the headlining Game of the Week this weekend, and the match certainly did not disappoint. Seattle ultimately walked away from Providence Park with the 3-2 win courtesy of goals from Bev Yanez, Jodie Taylor (pk), and Rumi Utsugi (Emily Sonnett and Lindsey Horan notched their own goals for the home side).
The game began with both teams pursuing open possession, with a strong amount of energy. Seattle dominated possession in the first half, but Portland’s press and counter made for quite a few dangerous moments in front of Seattle’s goal (most notably perhaps when Mallory Weber dribbled through the Reign defense only to be denied at close range by the crossbar in the 18th minute).
It seemed like the Thorns might have the offensive edge, but Seattle got the lone goal of the half off a corner kick in the 36th minute that was guided into the back of the net by the side of Yanez’s head and shoulder. Despite the open play, the half would end 1-0 in favor of Seattle.
— NWSL (@NWSL) May 5, 2018
The second half opened up at a similar pace, but one fifteen minute stretch in the final 30 of the half broke the game wide open. Portland found their equalizer in the 61st minute, also off a corner kick. This time, the deflection found Emily Sonnett, who added another goal to her resume for the Thorns.
However, only two minutes after the game tied up, Jess Fishlock went down in Portland’s box, drawing a penalty for the visitors that Jodie Taylor did not miss. The Thorns responded to going down a second time with immense pressure, and Lindsey Horan got the second equalizer off a Meghan Klingenberg cross in the 70th.
Finally, in the 75th minute, Rumi Utsugi threaded a ball off a short corner through the entirety of the Portland defense, shooting near post and putting the Reign up for a third and final time. The last fifteen minutes of the match showed the Thorns looking desperately for a final equalizer, but some late heroics from Seattle (and former Portland) keeper Michelle Betos kept the visitors on top, earning a massive three points.
- Reign – Yanez (Kawasumi)
- Thorns – Sonnett (Klingenberg)
- Reign – Taylor (pk)
- Thorns – Horan (Klingenberg)
- Reign – Utsugi (Catley)
— Claire Watkins