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NWSL Saturday: Houston gives Utah first loss of season

Orlando Pride 1, Portland Thorns FC 3

Orlando struck first, but Portland soon roared back, and the Pride’s woes continue. Both teams came out with a different look due to missing personnel. While Portland didn’t seem to miss too much of a beat, Orlando had their usual issues on both ends.

It was a bright start for Orlando. Ten minutes in, Toni Pressley got her head on the end of a driven corner kick from Carson Pickett, and the Pride had their second lead of the season.

However, just before the half hour mark, Dagny Brynjarsdottir cleaned up a loose ball after Haley Kopmeyer spilled a blocked shot, catching Kopmeyer on the ground.

Less than ten minutes later, Andressinha took the lead for the Thorns with a brilliant free kick that Kopmeyer stood no chance of stopping.

Caitlin Foord put the final nail in the coffin in the second half, when a poor clearance from Pickett fell fortuitously to the Aussie after Pickett blocked a cross from Ellie Carpenter. Foord’s half-volley soared to the back of the net and put the game out of reach.

Foord had a chance to make it a brace in the 66th minute when the Thorns were awarded a penalty after Pressley took Midge Purce down inside the box. However, Kopmeyer saved both Foord’s penalty kick and the subsequent rebound shot.

With two out of four minutes left in stoppage time, the game was halted for a lightning delay. Less than an hour later, the players were back on and the game was over.

Orlando (0-5-1) stays in ninth place and next travels to Utah on May 25. Portland (2-0-2) jumps up to fourth and will next play at Washington.

Goal Summary

  1. Orlando Pride (Toni Pressley, 10’)
  2. Portland Thorns FC (Dagny Brynjarsdottir, 28’)
  3. Portland Thorns FC (Andressinha, 36’)
  4. Portland Thorns FC (Caitlin Foord, 57’)

– Chelsey Bush

Utah Royals FC 1, Houston Dash 2

A Rachel Daly double helped Houston to be the first team to take points off Utah this year, even as the Dash finished the game a player down.

The Royals got on the board first in the 29th minute when Amy Rodriguez ran onto the end of a fantastic through ball from Vero Boquete, beating the defenders and Jane Campbell with a low roller to the far post.

Just before halftime, Amber Brooks sent a long ball that Sam Johnson couldn’t clear. Daly took control and launched a shot past Nicole Barnhart, the first player to do so this season, and tied things up heading into the locker room.

The Brit, just named to England’s World Cup roster, wasn’t finished. Shortly after they returned to the field, the Dash again caught the Royals in transition and this time Daly sent in a low ball at a difficult angle to take the lead.

The Royals held much of the possession and controlled large stretches of the match, but excellent defending from Houston kept them from finding the back of the net again. It was an increasingly physical match, culminating in a straight red card to Daly for throwing an elbow, making this her last appearance before she leaves for France.

Houston (3-1-1) now takes the top spot and will host Chicago on Sunday, May 19. Utah (3-1-0) drops to second and travels to North Carolina that same day.

Goal Summary

  1. Utah Royals FC (Amy Rodriguez, 29′)
  2. Houston Dash (Rachel Daly, 42′)
  3. Houston Dash (Rachel Daly, 50′)

– Chelsey Bush

Sky Blue FC 2, Washington Spirit 3

A goalfest in Jersey means both of these teams at least doubled their goal tally for the year. Cheyna Matthews got things started off early with a bit of individual persistence, pulling Didi Haracic off her line and finishing her own rebound.

Ten minutes later, Raquel Rodriguez evened things up, rocketing home a perfect pass from Savannah McCaskill, who had a good match, providing much-needed speed up top  for Sky Blue.

Washington began to find more space in the second half, and with help from an Australian connection, Jordan DiBiasi regained the lead.

Matthews wasn’t done, either. In the 68th minute, she made a great diagonal run into the box and one-timed a shot off a Cali Farquharson pass almost immediately after Farquharson subbed in.

However, there was life in Sky Blue yet. After Sarah Killion was denied by the crossbar, Imani Dorsey made things interesting by pulling one back with 10 minutes to go.

But it was too little too late. Washington (2-1-1) jumps up to fourth place. Next Saturday they host Portland. Sky Blue (0-3-2) remains in eighth place and travels to Tacoma to face Reign FC next week.

Goal Summary

  1. Washington Spirit (Cheyna Matthews, 22′)
  2. Sky Blue FC (Raquel Rodriguez, 32′)
  3. Washington Spirit (Jordan DiBiasi, 55′)
  4. Washington Spirit (Cheyna Matthews, 68′)
  5. Sky Blue FC (Imani Dorsey, 80′)

– Chelsey Bush

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