In the first match week of June in the NWSL the league saw massive table shifts as the leader heading into the week dropped to fourth.
Once again, the NWSL displays why it is one of the best women’s soccer leagues in the world. The two clubs that were in the bottom two of the league heading into the week secured three points while the team that sat at the top suffered its first defeat since April 30. Anything can happen. That is what makes this league so uniquely intriguing.
The match week featured a Kansas City Current rebound result, and yet another Racing Louisville red card in the final 45 minutes. In the Lone Star State, the Houston Dash collected their second succussive triumph by a 2-0 score line, prevailing over the Orlando Pride. Two first-half goals including one by Sophie Hirst within the first six minutes propelled the once-struggling Dash up into the postseason picture. The movement among the 12 teams was once again evident as the World Cup continues to get closer and closer.
From all the action that transpired over the last few days in the NWSL, here are the top storylines you should know from week 10:
NWSL news: Portland shuts out OL Reign on the road
For the first time at Lumen Field in NWSL league play, Christine Sinclair and the Portland Thorns overpowered Laura Harvey’s OL Reign. Neither Seattle side could show out in front of the home fans as the Sounders drew the Portland Timbers in the first contest of the weekend doubleheader. Sophia Smith’s strength and grace with the ball at her feet gave the away side the early advantage. The Thorns never looked back. Both Smith and Crystal Dunn were dynamic in their respective positions, causing the resistance from the Reign to begin to crack. Both had six or more shot-creating actions while completing six take-ons apiece.
Harvey’s side had their chances against Bella Bixby between the sticks, but for the first time since May 14 across all competitions, the Reign failed to find the back of the net. Not counting the Challenge Cup win against the Wave, the Seattle side has not lost three out of their last four contests. They are still three points back of Portland at the top of the table, but given the recent form, it begs the question if this decline could continue with still Rose Lavelle likely sidelined for an unknown period of time.
Other than the defeat to Houston on the road in early May, the defending champions have been playing the most consistent soccer of anyone. To be able to bring in players like Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sinclair off the bench is any manager’s dream. The club’s midfield features Dunn, Sam Coffey, and youngster Olivia Moultrie and is far and away the best middle third of any side right now. No team protected their home turf better than the Reign heading into week 10, but coming out of the week, the Thorns are now tied with Gotham for the most goals away from home.
At some point in time Portland is going to create separation from the rest of the pack, it is only a matter of time. There was really nothing the Reign could have done to prevent the Thorns from finding the back of the net twice as the quality of the players in the attacking third for Portland was on full display. Nobody shows up for big games quite like the Oregon side who will play two clubs in the current bottom four in the league over the next two weeks. They won the 2022 title for a reason. Saturday is just another example of why a repeat could be in the cards.