NWSL analysis: Kansas City Current’s streak, Diana Ordóñez is one fire, and more

Quick Hit
  • To analyze the latest set of NWSL games, we’re looking at one team, one player, and one moment from across the league
Aug 5, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; North Carolina Courage defender Kaleigh Kurtz (3) and forward Diana Ordonez (12) warm up before the game against the Portland Thorns FC at Providence Park. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
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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.

There was a mixed bag of NWSL results over the weekend, with half of the games ending in draws. The Kansas City Current, Chicago Red Stars, and Houston Dash were the only three teams to add three points to their season totals.  

To analyze the weekend’s slate of games, we’re returning to the “one team, one player, one moment” format, where we touch on one team, one pla… okay, you know where this is going. 

Let’s get to it.

Team: Kansas City Current continue their hot streak

The Kansas City Current took down the San Diego Wave on Sunday to extend their unbeaten streak to nine games. In the process, the Current handed the Wave their first home defeat of the regular season.

The Current came to play in this one, dominating San Diego for a majority of the first half. Kansas City didn’t have anything to show for it, though, until the 27th minute. Kristen Hamilton played a long diagonal ball to Cece Kizer, who beat San Diego’s Naomi Girma in a one-v-one battle and scored her fourth goal in six games to give the Current a 1-0 lead.

Hailie Mace followed up Kizer’s goal just 12 minutes later with an impressive finish from just outside the box. Mace collected the ball after a San Diego turnover and absolutely diced up the Wave’s backline before hitting an unsavable shot into the upper right-hand corner of the goal.

Though the Current won the first half, the second half proved to be a bit of a challenge. San Diego’s Kailen Sheridan came up with a huge penalty save to deny Lo’eau Labonta her fourth goal of the season. With that save, which was Sheridan’s second penalty kick save in as many games, Sheridan became the all-time penalty saves leader in the NWSL (8). 

The Wave even managed to pull a goal back thanks to Amirah Ali in the 88th minute, but the Kansas City Current weathered the storm and came away with the win. It was a great result for the Current, but even more of a morale boost for a Kansas City squad that saw Sam Mewis placed on the season-ending injury list in the week leading up to this game.

Player: Diana Ordóñez shows up against the Portland Thorns

Playing in Providence Park is never easy – and I bet it’s even more difficult as a rookie. North Carolina’s Diana Ordóñez sure made it look easy, though.

The Courage were down 2-0 by the 24th minute after Portland’s Sophia Smith and Morgan Weaver took advantage of some questionable Courage defending. The rest of the first half played out mostly in Portland’s favor, too, even though that scoreline persisted through halftime.

Ordóñez put the team on her back in the second half, though. She scored two goals just 11 minutes apart to pull North Carolina level with the league leaders.

Both of Ordóñez goals were headers, which makes sense when you remember that she’s 5’11”. In any case, her first goal was off a Carson Pickett corner and her second was in the run-of-play after a Ryan Williams cross. It was Ordóñez’s second brace in as many games and her seventh NWSL goal this season. 

She now leads all rookies in goals in the regular season and has moved into third for the golden-boot race, only behind Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave, 11) and Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns, 11).

Ordóñez and the Courage left Providence Park with a hard-earned point and their second consecutive 3-3 draw.

Moment: Two goals in two minutes for Ebony Salmon and the Houston Dash

This ‘moment’ really refers to a specific two-minute long moment in time, which started in the 53rd minute of the Houston Dash/OL Reign matchup at Lumen Field.

Trailing 1-0, Houston was awarded a penalty kick after the Reign’s Quinn was called for a handball in the box. Ebony Salmon beat goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce with her attempt to pull Houston level. Right around 120 seconds later, Salmon doubled Houston’s lead with a goal that was the eventual game-winner.

Houston’s moment led to their first-ever away victory against the OL Reign, which also happened to be the Reign’s first loss at Lumen Field. This was the third-straight win for new head coach Juan Carlos Amorós, who is clearly adjusting to the NWSL quite well.