Sunday saw the final two matches of the long-awaited Week 1 of the National Women’s Soccer League regular season.
Throughout the regular season, The Equalizer will continue to bring you in-depth, industry-leading insight and analysis to subscribers (click here to subscribe and get premium content year-round). Our plan for game recaps is the following: one link for each day of game action, with context of what happened. The NWSL league site will give you box scores and stats; we don’t need to regurgitate that. Instead, we’ll look to catch you up on the key moments and tactical shifts.
The goal of this format is to catch you up on what happened in a given match quickly but thoroughly enough to get you the need-to-know. We will still produce longer analysis in addition to these recaps. As always, let us know your thoughts, and we’ll adjust if needed based on feedback.
Orlando Pride 1, Washington Spirit 1
The Skinny: Alex Morgan’s 81st minute equalizer cancelled out Ashley Hatch’s 76th minute opener as the Pride and Spirit split the points Sunday at Exploria Stadium. Following a first half in which neither team found their best attacking boots, both sides picked up the pace in the second. Both goals were the product of the goal-scoring team’s preferred attacking method. Hatch beat Ali Krieger on a header at the end of a Tori Huster cross that was set up by Ashley Sanchez winning a ball in midfield and dribbling through space to create the chance. The Pride equalized when Morgan ran onto a Route 1 ball out of the back by Phoebe McLernon.
One Key Moment: Trinity Rodman was not on the scoresheet for the Spirit and was mostly quiet in her final soccer game before turning 19. Her sophistication though, was on full display including during the goal-scoring sequence. With Sanchez running through space, Rodman drifted to the right where Huster was overlapping from her right back position. Rodman ran interference on Pride left back Courtney Petersen, even giving her a light shove at one point. Then, upon realizing the ball was going to Huster, cut back toward the center of the box in an effort to either receive Huster’s cross or open up more space in the box.
Inside the Game: Morgan’s goal was hardly the only attempt the Pride made at score by playing balls long. In the opening minutes of the second half Marta played one over the top that landed in a similar spot to Morgan’s goal. That one was for Sydney Leroux. Pride keeper Aubrey Bledsoe was a split second late coming out for it, but she did arrive in time to bother Leroux’s shot that wandered just wide as the two collided. If the Pride continue using that tactic to good affect it could be an issue for opposing defenses who won’t see it consistently from too many other clubs around the league.
1. Spirit — Ashley Hatch (Tori Huster), 76
2. Pride — Alex Morgan (Phoebe McClernon), 84