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NWSL Week 17: Draws, water coolers and weather delays mark chaotic weekend

© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Four of the six matches this National Women’s Soccer League weekend were draws, while one draw had a player seeing red. Also, one coach saw red, too.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Wave and Angel City FC collected wins. Angel City hasn’t lost a match since Becki Tweed took over as interim manager.

All the draws

Heading into the final stretch of the season, almost all of the NWSL players who had represented their countries in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand have returned to play and this past weekend had no shortage of excitement, with lots of goals, handballs and it also had the most draws of any NWSL week thus far this regular season at four. The two wins on the weekend, San Diego over Orlando, and Angel City over the Reign, were the first time the winning team had ever beaten that opponent in regular season play.

Contigo Jenni

All around the globe, women’s and men’s soccer players are showing their support of Jenni Hermoso and the heinous actions of now temporarily suspended RFEF president Luis Rubiales, with the hashtags #ContigoJenni and #SeAcabo. The NWSL has been no exception. Players from all teams came out this weekend with tape on their wrists saying ‘Contigo Jenni’, while supporter’s groups and fans made posters and large signs visible on the broadcast to further the message.

Sophia Smith subbed off early

Current NWSL golden boot leader Sophia Smith, who scored in Week 16 within seconds of subbing into the match went down late in the first half and needed to be helped off the pitch. At halftime she went off to the locker room with ice on her knee and on crutches. Post game, Thorns head coach Mike Norris hadn’t yet spoken to the medical team yet, only knew it was a knee injury but didn’t have any definitive information.

Inconsistent Handball Calls

VAR has continued to be inconsistent between games with two very similar looking scenarios between the Angel City versus Reign call and the Portland versus Washington call, but two very different outcomes. In both cases, the result of the final call had big impacts on the match. The lack of the Angel City call could’ve been the difference maker as the Reign fell, 2-1. The call for the Portland handball gave Washington’s Ashley Hatch the chance to tie the match up in stoppage time allowing for an important point at home for the Spirit.

For Portland’s handball call, fast forward to roughly 1:40 in the video

Wet Globe Bulb Temperature

It probably wasn’t the best idea to have a 2 p.m. ET, local game time, start in North Carolina in August, but no one has ever said that the NWSL was on top of scheduling. Sunday, fans across the league got to learn about the WGBT or Wet Globe Bulb Temperature, which takes into account: temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover and is used to make sure that it isn’t too hot to be playing soccer, health wise.

During the first half water break of North Carolina’s match against Chicago, the temperature reading went over the league standard for playing, and the game went into a 30 minute heat delay that saw both teams head back into the locker room and then need to re-warm up. This occurrence does bring into question why the game was scheduled for midday to begin with, because it isn’t ideal for the players to have to stop play, go inside and re-warm up to continue playing the first half.

It wasn’t the cooler, but it was a red card

With stoppage time winding down and a goal lead over Orlando, San Diego head coach Casey Stoney gave a ball headed her way a little flick away from her as a part of time wasting and got herself a red card for “delaying the restart of play by the opposing team e.g. kicking the ball away,” per the IFAB Laws of the Game, Law 12. In real-time it appeared the ball bounced off her famous cooler, and even Wave assistant coach Louis Hunt thought that the ball hit off the cooler, but the referee had a better view than most and sent Stoney off. Bigger picture, this does mean that the Wave will be missing Stoney for their home match against Houston next week.

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