Game-changers: Huerta, Sanchez, Sheridan, and others from around the NWSL

Quick Hits
  • The NWSL resumed over the weekend after a week-long break and most of the league’s international players were back and available for selection
  • Many of these international players picked up right where they left off before all of the international soccer they played in July, but a few players really stood out as game-changers for their clubs
Jun 4, 2022; Bridgeview, Illinois, USA; OL Reign defender Sofia Huerta (11) looks on during the second half of the game against the Chicago Red Stars at SeatGeek Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

This is an excerpt from Monday’s Weekend Recap. Subscribe to our free newsletter to get future editions of the Weekend Recap delivered right to your inbox.

The NWSL resumed this weekend after a week-long break and most of the league’s international players were back and available for selection. Rachel Daly (England, Houston Dash), Kerolin (North Carolina, Brazil), Debinha (North Carolina, Brazil), Angelina (OL Reign, Brazil), and Sofia Jakobsson (San Diego, Sweden) were still away, with Daly and the Brazilians winning championships for their countries over the weekend.

Many of these international players picked up right where they left off before all of the international soccer they played in July, but a few players really stood out as game-changers for their clubs.

Let’s talk about some of those players.

Diana Ordoñez, Mexico, North Carolina Courage

After a disappointing Concacaf W Qualifying tournament that saw Mexico fall short of World Cup qualification, Ordoñez made a splash in her NWSL return against the Washington Spirit. She led the Courage in shots (4) and all players in expected goals (1.59, StatsPerform) after scoring twice in the 3-3 draw. Ordoñez’s first goal pulled North Carolina level with their opponents and her penalty kick gave the Courage a 3-2 lead they later conceded.

This was her first career brace and she now leads all NWSL rookies in goals this season (5).

Unfortunately for North Carolina, this big performance from Ordoñez wasn’t enough to pull them up from the bottom of the table. The Courage are still sitting in last place with nine points and a 2W-3D-5L record.

Kailen Sheridan, Canada, San Diego Wave

Sheridan and the Canada women’s national team only conceded one goal on their way to World Cup qualification in July, and Sheridan kept up that pace against the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday.

The Wave pulled out a 1-0 win despite playing the last third of the match with only 10 players after defender Abby Dahlkemper was shown a second yellow card in the 59th minute. It was Sheridan’s big penalty save in the 82nd minute that secured San Diego’s clean sheet – and ultimately, their win – after she denied Mallory Pugh her seventh goal of the season.

Seventeen-year old Jaedyn Shaw was the goalscorer for the Wave. She became the youngest player to score in her NWSL debut and the second-youngest NWSL goalscorer ever, only after Portland’s Olivia Moultrie.

With their win, San Diego returned to first place with 25 points (7W-4D-3L) after Portland occupied the top spot for merely 24 hours following their 2-1 win over Racing Louisville on Friday night.

Sofia Huerta, United States, OL Reign

Huerta was a pivotal piece of the USWNT backline that allowed zero goals and helped the U.S. qualify for both the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics.

In Huerta’s return to OL Reign’s lineup, she scored a left-footed banger that pulled the Reign level with Angel City. She also assisted the game-winning goal, which Tobin Heath scored in the 89th minute. The Reign’s three unanswered second-half goals earned them the win over L.A. and kept them above the playoff line. It was also the Reign’s first regular season game where they scored more than two goals this year.

Getting a few goals on the board is a good sign for a team that’s struggled to find the back of the net in 2022.

María Sánchez, Mexico, Houston Dash

Sánchez was lights-out for Houston in their 4-2 win over NJ/NY Gotham FC. It was the second time in as many games that the Dash put away four goals, only this time, Sánchez was involved in two of them.

After the teams exchanged goals early in the first half, Sánchez assisted the Dash’s goal-ahead goal in the 36th minute. It was a perfect cross into the box that found Shea Groom, who put a header past Gotham goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris in true Air Groom fashion. Consistently getting into the attack, Sánchez also drew the foul in the box that ultimately resulted in Houston’s fourth goal.

With the win, the Dash moved into third place in the NWSL standings.