Current triumph over Wave; Dash best reigns, Red Stars dominate Gotham, Pride and ACFC draw – Equalizer Soccer
Four overlapping games took place in the National Women’s Soccer League on Sunday night.
San Diego Wave 1, Kansas City Stream 2
Lean: In a battle between two dominant NWSL teams, Kansas City confidently won and handed San Diego its first home loss of the 2022 regular season.
A key moment: Kansas City had comfortable control for most of the game, with two goals in the first half and even a chance to score from a penalty in the second. But when San Diego hit back in the 88th minute with an Amirah Ali goal, the home side appeared to stage a ninth-hour resurgence that could put Kansas City on their toes. But the last-minute hype didn’t translate into a comeback, and a San Diego equalizer never came.
Inside the game: The stakes were high heading into Sunday night’s game between San Diego and Kansas City, with the former team leading the league standings and the latter team coming off an 8-game unbeaten streak. But right off the bat, it was Kansas City’s game to take home. The first half showed that San Diego’s defense, though organized, was no match for Kansas City’s frontline cunning, and at halftime the Current were leading by 2 after goals from CeCe Kizer and Hailie Mace.
The second half of the game followed similar patterns to the first, as Kansas City controlled slightly more possession and limited San Diego’s opportunities to come out of their own back half. Excitement brewed around halfway through the second half, when Kansas City’s Elyse Bennett fired a penalty, which was then fired by Lo’eau Labonta, who fought hard for a goal the entire game . The penalty was eventually saved by Wave goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan and the game became something of a third game in a row in which the Wave checked in a penalty. The energy from the stoppage revived San Diego enough to get on the board, but his late goal wasn’t enough. Kansas City picked up the win and extended their unbeaten streak to 9 games.
- Kansas City Current – CeCe Kizer27′
- Kansas City Current – Hailie Mace39′
San Diego Wave – Amirah Ali88′
OL Reign 1, Houston Dash 2
Lean: Reign was arguably the better team for most of this game, but Houston’s clinical finishing, especially Ebony Salmon, stood out.
A Key Moment: Ebony Salmon’s winning goal was her bread and butter. A turnover in midfield led to a quick counterattack, Alana Cook matched Salmon’s pace but couldn’t get close enough to affect him and his ability to finish.
Inside the game: The Reign dominated the first half, they cornered Houston in their defensive half and created plenty of chances. Megan Rapinoe scored her first goal of the season to put the home side on the board early. Kim Little’s assist in the last game of her loan spell was an example of her brilliant skill, and Rapinoe’s volley finish was also world class.
Houston played noticeably better in the second half, but they weren’t on the front foot until after the equalizer came from the penalty spot. The penalty kick was given for a handball into the box by Canadian midfielder Quinn, but the replay made that call questionable, despite Salmon converting easily for his first of the night. She would score the winner just two minutes later.
But just two minutes after Salmon’s decisive goal, there was a big penalty miss at the other end when Jess Fishlock, behind the defense, was stumbled from behind by Alysha Chapman. Reigns won’t blame that call, they’ll point out their defense conceded Salmon’s second goal and they had more chances but their finishing problems continued. Thanks to the Dash, they finished the game strong, limiting and frustrating the reign in order to go home with the three points.
- OL Reign – Megan Rapinoe (Kim Little), 16′
- Houston Dash – Ebony Salmon (PK), 53′
- Houston Dash – Ebony Salmon (Shea Married), 55′
Chicago Red Stars 2, Gotham FC 0
Lean: Gotham was no match for Chicago on Sunday night, as the Red Stars cruised to a 2-0 victory that would have been a much more lopsided loss had it not been for Gotham’s solid goalie Michelle Betos.
A key moment: Chicago’s first goal, a Tatumn Milazzo header late in the first half, gave the Red Stars the boost of confidence they needed to take control of the game, but it was Ava Cook’s goal in the 66th minute which really secured victory for the red stars. Cook, an outstanding youngster, always made the difference for the Red Stars in his first season.
Inside the game: Gotham can’t figure it out. Around eleventh place, the New Jersey/New York team is struggling with player absences and a lack of aggressiveness on its offensive line. Gotham was hoping Sunday night’s game against the fourth-placed Chicago Red Stars would give them a chance to restart their season, but Chicago outplayed them from the start.
The first half started quietly but ended with a header from Tatumn Milazzo in stoppage time to give the Red Stars a 1-0 halftime lead. And the second half of the game was Chicago’s spectacle, with shot after shot from the mighty Red Stars’ feet hindered only by Gotham goalie Michelle Betos. A 66th-minute header from Ava Cook gave the Red Stars the confidence they needed to secure that victory at home, and by the end of the game Gotham looked exhausted and defeated. The New Jersey/New York team is going to have some serious strategy to do if it wants to have a chance of qualifying for the playoffs.
- Chicago Red Stars – Tatumn Milazzo, 45+5′
- Chicago Red Stars – Ava Cook66′