In the 20 NWSL games so far this season just 4 road teams have come away with three points; two of those wins were by the North Carolina. On Sunday the Courage travelled to a windy Jordan Field in Boston to face the Breakers who were riding high after winning two consecutive home games. The Courage lineup changed due to injury, with Jaelene Hinkle out due to a hip flexor strain, meaning that the Courage had to abandon the 3-back defense that had won them the first three games of the season. Taylor Smith, who had replaced Hinkle in the first 3 matches as a sub, got the start and Witteman started for Kawamura, presumably due to the switch from the 3- to 4-back system.
The one thing you’ll notice when watching a game in Boston is that the camera angles are terrible. The one high-set camera is always zoomed in too far and is unable to view the near corners of the field. This means that you are left guessing about what is actually happening half of the time, because you’re watching random players in the midfield jostle for position rather than seeing what is happening around the ball. Despite the camerawork, it was blatantly obvious to start this game that the Courage weren’t on the same page. During the first fifteen minutes of play it felt like they missed more passes and allowed more unforced errors than they had in the previous three games combined. Despite this lack of cohesion, the Courage managed to force multiple corner kicks, and in the 32nd minute Jess McDonald found the back of the net after Abby Erceg headed the ball off the crossbar. This marked McDonald’s record-breaking 33rd NWSL goal, eclipsing Kim Little, who left the NWSL to play closer to home in England this season.
The rest of the game was pretty even, with both teams struggling mightily against a strong wind that was blowing parallel to the pitch. In one harrowing moment for the Courage, a Boston shot took an unusual bounce and caused keeper Sabrina D’Angelo to make an awkward dive, narrowly punching the ball away from the goal, but otherwise the Boston attack was largely contained by the Courage defense in the second half. The win marks just the second time in NWSL history that a team has started 4-0-0 on the year. The Courage travel to Orlando next Sunday to play against the Pride, who are at the bottom of the table.
Around the NWSL
- All four of the other matches around the NWSL ended favorably for the Courage, who have jumped out to a commanding lead in the standings.
- Marta scored her first NWSL goal, but it wasn’t enough to get the Orlando Pride their first win after giving up a late equalizer against the FCKC Blues. The Pride are now the only winless team in the NWSL.
- The Seattle Reign travelled to Portland where they, too, gave up a late goal for a final scoreline of 2-2. Portland is second in the league with 7 points (2-1-1).
- The Chicago Red Stars dominated the Houston Dash in the Lifetime Game of the Week, with a final scoreline of 2-0. Forward Christen Press still hasn’t found the back of the net this season.
- The Washington Spirit took down Sky Blue FC in an exciting 4-3 victory in Maryland. Franny Ordega scored twice and forced an own goal in the victory. This was Washington’s first win of the season after scoring just one goal in the first three matches.
- Mallory Pugh is visiting PSG this week to entertain an offer to play in France. The Washington Spirit currently own her rights in the allocation order, but she does not want to play in Washington.
- Owner Merritt Paulson of the Portland Thorns blasted the owner of Lyon this weekend after the French owner seemed to offer one of his players a place on the team next season.