NWSL news: Spirit back in win column, Brazilian internationals dazzle, top stories from week 11

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 10: Ashley Sanchez #10 and Trinity Rodman #2 of Washington Spirit shake hands during the NWSL game between Angel City FC and Washington Spirit at Audi Field on June 10, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 10: Ashley Sanchez #10 and Trinity Rodman #2 of Washington Spirit shake hands during the NWSL game between Angel City FC and Washington Spirit at Audi Field on June 10, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images). /

Brazilian internationals Kerolin and Adriana headlined the NWSL news from week 11, while the Washington Spirit snatched a key win at home. 

NWSL news: Sanchez and Hatch net a goal apiece as Washington tie Wave on points at the top 

Following the draw in Louisville on Friday night, Mark Parsons’ Washington Spirit had the opportunity to tie the San Diego Wave at the top of the table by securing all three points against Angel City FC. The Washington D.C. side came into the contest having been winless in their previous three matches including a frustrating 1-1 draw at home against Racing Louisville. Despite Freya Coombe’s Los Angeles side putting the pressure on in the opening minutes, Parson’s side adjusted, staying patient knowing the quality they had in the frontline.

Once Trinity Rodman forced DiDi Haracic to make a save to collect the home side’s first shot of the contest, Washington would kick on from there. 14 minutes after Rodman nearly found the opener, she, Ashley Sanchez, and Ashley Hatch all played a part in the first breakthrough of the game. Sanchez’s shot deflected off the post, leaving Hatch there to clean up the scraps just inches in front of the goal line. 22-year-old Paige Metayer’s pinpoint cross led to Sanchez putting the ball in the back of the net for the second time on Saturday afternoon. The handshake heard around the NWSL ensued during the celebration as the energy around the Spirit seemed to be alive and well.

Following Mary Vignola’s first NWSL goal of her career to cut the deficit to one, Hatch was on the cusp of restoring her side’s two-goal advantage from the center circle. Haracic, who was far out of position would get back to push the ball out of play just in time. Washington remained stable in the back despite the consistent pressure the away side was putting on them.

The Spirit were far more efficient in front of Angel City’s goal, which was the key reason the L.A side lost their fourth successive match. A 21 percent shots on target percentage compared to 64 percent from Washington. Pressure can only take a team so far if the players in the final third cannot produce the goods when it matters most. Rodman, Hatch, and Sanchez have now combined for 12 goals and four assists on the campaign, leading Washington to the least amount of losses through 11 weeks of the regular season.

NWSL news: Adriana and Kerolin show out, propel teams to victory

The headline of the weekend in addition to the league celebration of Pride was the Brazilian internationals Adriana and Kerolin. The two combined for five goals, guiding their respective clubs to a multi-goal triumph this past weekend. In the Windy City, North Carolina Courage’s No. 9 put on an absolute clinic on how to put the ball into the back of the net against a world-class goalkeeper.

From the 10′ on, the Brazilian led the charge for a team that had their eyes set on rebounding following a surprising defeat to the Kansas City Current on the road. Whether it was pushing the ball past the goalkeeper and finishing from a tough angle, or putting the cherry on top of the win with a powerful near-post strike, there was nothing Chicago could do to prevent her dynamism. In just 71 minutes, the Brazilian had three goals, giving her the lead in the Golden Boot race, one ahead of Lynn Williams, Hatch, and Sophia Smith. Her display away from Cary, North Carolina pushed the Courage above the playoff line, just three points behind the Wave at the top.

Down south in the Sunshine State to close out the weekend, the Orlando Pride sent the largest shockwave of the weekend against the defending champion Portland Thorns. In the first match of the regular season, the Pride visited Providence Park where they got rolled over 4-0, looking relatively lifeless in both defense and in the final third. Nearly three months later, Seb Hines’ team flipped the script.

The Brazilian international Adriana brought her side back to life with a show-stopping free kick after conceding the first goal of the game. From the angle in which the free kick was placed, it was difficult to see the Pride’s No. 9 beating Bella Bixby. With both pace and precision, she found a way. Minutes after the whistle opened up the second 45 minutes, the Brazilian beat Bixby for the second time on the night via a pass from Ally Watt and a sensational run into the teeth of the Thorns’ defense. Hines’ smile when the ball hit the back of the net told the whole story. Portland could do anything defensively, but when Adriana has a full head of steam, good luck.

NWSL news: OL Reign sink KC Current at home through Sofia Huerta

Last week, Laura Harvey’s OL Reign came out flat against their rivals. USWNT wing-back Sofia Huerta made sure that her team did not fumble a second consecutive contest in front of their fans in Seattle. It was Huerta’s penalty kick in the 36′, and her cross that found the head of Canadian international Jordyn Huitema that lifted up to 19 points on the campaign, just behind the Thorns who sit in third position due to goal differential.

Huerta totaled seven crosses and two crosses into the penalty area. So far this season, only two players have more than 10 crosses into the penalty area. One of them is Huerta. With the World Cup roster decision coming within the next few weeks, this is the exact kind of display a player like Huerta needed to show Vlatko Andonovski the kind of quality she can bring on a consistent basis.

Kansas City had just six shots the entire match with Huitema tying the Current in total shots on target. It has to be tough with an interim head coach calling the shots. Caroline Sjöblom’s side sits dead last in the NWSL with just nine points as they failed to build off of a positive performance against the Courage at home in week 10. Two out of KC’s next three contests are against teams in the current top three of the NWSL table.

This was a chance to continue that momentum against a team that had lost their last two on home turf. Sjöblom and the Current have a lot of thinking to do while the Reign grab all the points at the expense of Megan Rapinoe, who went off injured just six minutes into the match. According to Harvey, she seemed to be just fine, but that is not the kind of news USWNT fans want to hear this close to the World Cup.

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