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Halfway through the NWSL season, three points separate first from sixth

Orlando shocked Portland, the Courage trounced Chicago, and the NWSL remains filled with parity

Cory Knowlton-USA TODAY Sports

After wildfire smoke canceled a midweek Challenge Cup match, the National Women’s Soccer League played a full slate of games this past weekend. This weekend marked the halfway point of the season — with every team having played 11 games each — and remarkably, the top six teams are separated by just three points.

Here’s how the weekend unfolded:

Orlando break their two-game losing skid with 3-1 win over Portland

After opening the season with a lopsided 4-0 loss to Portland, the Orlando Pride turned things around on Sunday with a come-from-behind win over the visiting Portland Thorns. Sophia Smith opened the scoring in the 12th minute to put Portland ahead, but Adriana then took the game into her own hands to turn things around for the Pride.

Adriana brought her team level just minutes later with a stunning free kick that bent just too far for Thorns keeper Bella Bixby to keep out.

Adriana added another just after the halftime break for her first brace in the NWSL, and rookie Messiah Bright secured the win with an insurance goal in the 69th minute.

Houston and Gotham split points in a tight 1-1 draw

VAR had main-character energy in Sunday’s draw between the Houston Dash and NJ/NY Gotham FC. Houston went ahead before the break, when María Sánchez confidently put away a cross by Michelle Alozie to take the lead at home.

Gotham’s Lynn Williams moved herself past Christine Sinclair and into second in most goals in NWSL history with a 53rd minute penalty kick for the equalizer.

But drama struck shortly after. The Dash thought they had a winner when Alozie beat Gotham keeper Abby Smith with a beautiful lofted header, however a lengthy VAR review showed that the ball had crossed the sideline (off of a Gotham player) in the sequence prior before the Dash regained possession. The goal was called back, and this one finished off as a draw.

After the match, Dash coach Sam Laity had much to say about the officiating:

OL Reign thwart Kansas City’s late comeback attempt for 2-1 win

There were worrying signs for U.S. women’s national team and OL Reign fans on Saturday, as Megan Rapinoe went down just moments into the Reign’s match against Kansas City with an apparent calf injury. She was ultimately subbed off minutes later. She walked off the field unaided.

Sofia Huerta buried a penalty kick to open the scoring for the Reign before the halftime break, and Jordyn Huitema doubled the lead in the 68th minute with a powerful header through traffic.

Kansas City gave the home side a late scare when substitute Isabel Rodriguez finished off a cross from Mimmi Larsson in stoppage time, but the comeback attempt proved to be too late.

North Carolina trounce Chicago with five goal win

The Courage got started early in Saturday’s 5-nil drubbing of the Red Stars. Kerolin got her side on the board in just the 11th minute with a first-time finish of Mille Gejl’s pass in the box. After the opener, both teams tried to settle into the match for the next 25 minutes, but things went downhill quickly for Chicago soon after.

Mille Gejl scored a goal of her own and Kerolin added another before the halftime break, while Denise O’Sullivan added a fourth in the 52nd minute, and Kerolin completed her hat-trick for the Courage’s fifth and final goal at the hour mark.

Washington unbeaten in three as they down Angel City 2-1

Angel City is having a rough go of things lately, and Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Spirit didn’t help. After an encouraging opening 30 minutes, things went sideways when Ashley Hatch got in behind Angel City’s backline for a Spirit opener.

Things went from bad to worse shortly after, as Spirit midfielder Paige Metayer delivered a perfect cross that Ashley Sanchez buried with a pinpoint header to put Washington up by two.

For Angel City fans looking for a silver lining, an upper-90 rocket by defender MA Vignola pulled one back for the visitors in stoppage time.

But with Angel City winless in their last five matches (four losses, one draw), questions are understandably being asked of coach Freya Coombe:

Meanwhile, the win by Washington served to extend their unbeaten streak to three matches, and kept them unbeaten on the season at home. They sit even on points at the top of the table with San Diego.

Goalkeepers shine in scoreless draw between Louisville and San Diego

Both Louisville and San Diego registered four shots on goal in a scoreless draw in Friday’s lone match. With both teams pushing for a winner, the final ten minutes was full of action, with chances at either end. The Wave’s Amirah Ali came close with a shot from inside the penalty area that sailed over the bar, while Louisville midfielder Alex Chidiac also had a late look on goal, but her effort was smothered by Kailen Sheridan.

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