OL and San Diego earned three points, Portland left KC frustrated with a draw, and Angel City lost twice this week.
Week 18 of NWSL play started with some midweek action as Angel City fell at North Carolina 1–0. The weekend play kicked off on Saturday midday as the OL Reign walked away with a 2–1 win against the Courage. In the evening, San Diego beat Angel City 1–0 in an exciting match in front of 32,000 fans. The Portland Thorns wrapped up the action in their 1–1 draw in Kansas City. Here’s where the western teams stand after the Week 18 action.
OL moves up with a win
OL started their three-game road trip with an exciting win in Cary, NC for the first time in Reign history. However, head coach Laura Harvey was stuck at home for the action, as she tested positive for Covid earlier in the week and didn’t test negative in time to join the team on Saturday. Assistant Sam Laity took the reins for the Reign and helped guide the team to a win. When talking about having to watch the match from home, Harvey spoke of the experience, “I honestly don’t know how you all do it. I truly don’t … my reactions were as I probably am on the side of the field, I think. So yeah, you can imagine what that looked like. It was not a calming 90 minutes, I could say that.”
As the push toward playoffs continues, the Reign travel directly to New Jersey to prepare for NJ/NY Gotham, who currently sit at the bottom of the table. From there the team will travel to Houston for their weekend matchup. It will be important for the Reign to get as many points as they can on this road trip if they want to hold onto a playoff spot.
Portland draws after a stoppage-time equalizer
After a dominating performance in Kansas City, Portland was able to finally find the netting in the 87th minute when Rocky Rodriguez put her own shot that deflected off the post in the back of the net at a close-to-impossible angle. Unfortunately, a questionable foul was called on Becky Sauerbrunn in the fourth minute of stoppage right outside the box, and Kansas City’s Hailie Mace was able to capitalize and even up the score. The Current goalkeeper, AD Franch, was a big reason why the Thorns were denied a goal for so long, racking up eight saves on the night.
With a win against Kansas City, Portland would’ve taken the top of the table from San Diego, but with a point they instead stayed in fourth, just two points behind the leader. Portland has a busy home week coming up, first hosting Racing Louisville on Wednesday night, then facing the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday.
Angel City falls twice
Making up an earlier Covid-postponed match, Angel City flew straight from Houston on Monday to take on the Courage in North Carolina. With only a pregame practice to prepare them, Angel City put up a good fight and had a brilliant defensive show, but ultimately fell to the high-scoring Courage. The team then flew directly to San Diego to start preparing for their Saturday night rivalry match against the Wave. Saturday’s game was perhaps the most complete performance that Angel City had all year, and when a PK was awarded in the 74th minute, it looked like ACFC was going to equalize. Unfortunately, Wave goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan came up with the big save, and the 1–0 scoreline held.
Looking forward, Angel City’s chaotic schedule continues as they host the Washington Spirit at home on Wednesday, followed by Racing Louisville over the weekend. Although their schedule is still very cramped, without the extra travel days, Angel City will be able to finally get a regular practice day in the schedule. Sitting in seventh place in the table, ACFC is still in contention to get above the playoff line, just four points behind Chicago in sixth.
San Diego debuts at a sold-out Snapdragon with a win
Saturday night was an exciting one for the Wave as they were able to christen a sold-out Snapdragon stadium with a win and take the top of the table simultaneously. Jaedyn Shaw saw her third start and third goal for the Wave, as the 17-year-old phenom continues to amaze in her debut NWSL season. Angel City was dangerous at times and outshot the home side, but the Wave were able to hold onto the lead due to the excellence of Kailen Sheridan in goal for San Diego.
As we head into the second to last week of the regular season, San Diego once again sits atop the table. Their weekend matchup will be Sunday against the ninth-ranked Orlando Pride. As both Portland and OL have midweek games in which a win would propel them above San Diego, every point matters and getting three points at Orlando will be very important in the race for the shield.