Gameweek 7 in the NWSL brought more stout efforts across the league. Ashley Hatch scored again for league-leading Washington. North Carolina put on a masterclass of midfield play, Marta again wowed and defenses stepped up with more stout efforts in NWSL gameweek 7. 

Each fixture in NWSL gameweek 7

Racing Louisville 3-0 Chicago Red Stars

Lousiville got its first win of the season with a decisive 3-0 win over Chicago on Friday night at home. The home side dominated the early moments of the match. Consequently, Uchenna Kanu almost opened the scoring in the 16th minute. Kanu took a through ball on the left side, cut inside to beat a number of defenders. But, she sent her final ball over the crossbar denying herself what would have been a spectacular opener. 

Louisville broke the deadlock in the 34th minute when a penalty. Chicago defender Tierna Davidson took down Paige Monaghan in the area. Savannah DeMelo converted the spot kick. 

During first-half stoppage time, Racing got a second penalty and once again converted, this time it was Wang Shuang getting her spot kick past Alyssa Naeher. 

Chicago’s best spell of play came after the 77th minute. The Red Stars peppered the Louisville area with chances and half chances. But, the final goal, yet again, fell to Louisville. On a counter-attack, Parker Goins pounced on a through-ball and ran to the six-yard box. She fired a low shot into the far corner.

The solo finish capped off a great evening for fans in attendance at Lynn Family Stadium.

Houston  Dash 2-1 Portland Thorns

Houston scored two second-half goals with Joelle Anderson and Ebony Salmon overturning an early deficit against Portland. The comeback gives the Dash its first home win of the campaign. As a result, it was the Thorns’ first loss of the season.

The Thorns started the match on the front foot creating better chances in the first half and maintaining control of possession and tempo. As usual, Sophia Smith looked dangerous going forward. On the other side of the midfield, Olivia Moultrie was particularly influential.

In minute 34, Moultrie set up Raquel Rodríguez for a right-footed shot. She powered that to the near post, and it snuck by Jane Camp which she delivered to the near post, sneaking by Jane Campbell in the Houston net. Portland took that one-goal lead into the half-time break.

The second half began with Houston creating lots of early pressure. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Joelle Anderson, a second-half substitute found the back of the net. Thorns goalkeeper Bella Bixby pushed a save from Ebony Salmon’s shot into Anderson’s path.

Just two minutes later though Campbell had to make a  dramatic save on Smith as Portland’s ace attacker was played one-on-one with the Houston keeper after an attacking move that began on the left side of Portland’s midfield. 

In minute 71, Salmon won the game for Houston with a fantastic run and finish. She received the ball about 35 yards from goal, beat two Thorns defenders and slotted home a classy finish. 

Despite several attempts to equalize late on, Portland could not find the final ball or the back of the net and suffered their first loss of the campaign. In the current three-match winless run, the Thorns conceded eight goals. Five of those are in the second half of matches. Certainly, it is still early in the campaign. However, in that first month of the campaign, Portland looked head and shoulders above the field. Now, it appears quite vulnerable.

Angel City FC 0-1 Washington Spirit

A late Ashley Hatch penalty gave Washington all three points away from home and catapulted the Spirit to the top of the league table.

The first half was fairly pedestrian though the Spirit had the better half chances. In the second half, the match opened up. Within the first minute of the half, Washington’s Trinity Rodman had missed a chance that drifted just wide of the far post. 

The sides exchanged chances throughout the half as the game became increasingly stretched. In second-half stoppage time, Angel City was increasingly on the back foot, and after a few decent chances, the Spirit drew a penalty when Mary Alice Vignola handled Marissa Sheva’s attempt. 

After a lengthy delay for a VAR check and some gamesmanship by Angel City goalkeeper Didi Haračić, Hatch calmly dispatched the spot kick into the top-right corner. That lifted her side to victory, as there were just a couple of minutes of stoppage time left after.

North Carolina Courage 1-0 OL Reign

Tyler Lussi’s 34th-minute goal was enough to lift North Carolina at home to a 1-0 victory over OL Reign. The Courage dominated possession in the match, with Denise O’Sullivan, Emily Fox and Ryan Williams standing out. 

The result prevented OL Reign from grabbing first in the standings. Given what was on the line and how well Seattle has been performing, it was an incredibly meek effort. Despite the scoreline, North Carolina was comfortable in control of the match from the point of Lussi’s goal onward. 

OL Reign wasn’t able to create the sort of advantage in wide areas they have in previous matches with Fox and Williams excelling in denying running room or passing lanes to both Megan Rapinoe and Veronica Latsko. 

North Carolina’s dominance in midfield was so complete that they attempted 540 passes during the game. This is the highest total by any team in a single match this season.

The victory snapped a difficult stretch for the Courage where they had won just once in the last seven matches in all competitions. 

Gotham FC 0-0 Orlando Pride 

NY/NJ Gotham and Orlando played out a scoreless draw Sunday night at Red Bull Arena. Orlando had the bulk of chances in the match and came close to scoring on multiple occasions but Gotham’sGoalkeeper Abby Smith had a standout night, while the backline performed very well. 

Gotham’s veteran central defensive pairing of Ali Krieger and Kristen Edmonds was regularly called into duty and made several key late challenges to preserve the clean sheet. 

While Orlando’s finishing touch was elusive, Marta once again proved she’s a timeless wonder in midfield and Mikalya Cluff played well, winning the ball back in open play eight times and also linking up well with both Marta and Viviana Villacorta. 

The Pride had conceded four goals in midweek Challenge Cup action against Washington. However, she bounced back in NWSL play for gameweek 7. Her comprehensive and convincing effort could not quite lock in the three points, though. Orlando is now undefeated in their last three league games after losing their first four Regular Season matches.

Kansas City Current 0-2 San Diego Wave 

The Wave snapped a two-game losing streak in league play in a 2-0 victory in Kansas City against the Current. 

San Diego struck twice in the first half. The first goal came when Alex Morgan hit the right post and the deflection came off Current Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch to give the Wave the lead. San Diego kept the pressure up as Morgan and Daniele Colaprico both had excellent chances to double the lead before minute 40. 

Finally, one minute before halftime, Belle Briede took a right-footed shot from the center of the area that she blasted to the top of the far corner. The strike was so clean and perfectly placed that Franch had no chance to save it. The goal gave San Diego a 2-0 lead heading into halftime. 

Throughout the second half, Kansas City dominated possession and the flow of play. Vanessa DeBernardo was particularly influential both in terms of creating changes for herself and setting up her teammates. But the Wave’s backline stepped up. Particularly good at the back was Kaleigh Riehl as well as Naomi Girma who is in the final stretch of making her case for USWNT selection for this summer’s World Cup.