NWSL Challenge Cup Recap: July 4 & 5

NWSL Challenge Cup Recap: July 4 & 5

The fun continued in Utah this weekend with four matches taking place over the course of the Fourth of July weekend.

For all those who were convinced otherwise...WE’RE OFFICIALLY NOT CURSED!!

Saturday saw the Pride Stans go 2-0, picking the Utah Royals to defeat Sky Blue FC and the Houston Dash to take down OL Reign, a perfect six-point holiday for our fans who continue to power our Challenge Cup stan.

Sunday we weren’t quite as successful, but still got a point from the Portland Thorns who drew with the Washington Spirit, while the Red Stars fell to the North Carolina Courage. 

Be sure to continue casting your vote and follow @ORLPride on Twitter and also follow the Club’s pages on Instagram and Facebook.


Saturday, July 4

Utah Royals FC 1, Sky Blue FC 0
The first match of the Independence Day doubleheader was decided by none other than FIFA World Cup Champion and former U.S. WNT forward Amy Rodriguez, who scored the eventual game-winner for the Royals in the 41st minute of play. Yes, she’s still got it.

A ball from Vero in behind the Sky Blue defense fell right to the foot of ARod, who slotted it into the right side of the net for the first-time finish. With that, we saw her two sons celebrate the only way possible...on the red slide. 

The Sky Blue offense once again could not find their footing, yet to find the back of the net in their first two matches. The New Jersey-based side only registered three shots in the contest, with none on frame, while maintaining 53% of the possession. 


Houston Dash 2, OL Reign 0
The Saturday night fireworks show at Zions Bank Stadium came from Kristie Mewis and Shea Groom, who each found the back of the net for the Dash to lead the side to a 2-0 victory over OL Reign. 

The Dash have been quite the surprise to start the tournament, now having netted five goals through their first two contests. The major disappointment is that we have yet to see their new jerseys in action, the Luv ya Dash! kit. 

Mewis opened the scoring in the 12th minute, striking it first time following a layoff from Groom into the lower right corner of the net. Groom then added to her account in the 54th, heading home a cross from Rachel Daly for her second finish in as many contests. 

While the Dash have continued to impress on the offensive end to start the tournament, OL Reign haven’t fared as well, with no finishes through their first two contests. One might argue that on paper the Reign hold the most talented roster in the tournament, outside of North Carolina, but the Tacoma-based side has yet to find its footing with all the new faces on the field. 

OL Reign will now look ahead to a matchup with tournament hosts Utah Royals FC on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., while the Dash will take on Sky Blue FC later that night at 10 p.m. ET. Both matches will be available to stream on CBS All Access.


Sunday, July 5

North Carolina Courage 1, Chicago Red Stars 0
Ugh...here we go again. Stans, you can’t blame us for these. 

Despite Chicago putting together their most complete performance of the tournament, North Carolina found a way once again to earn three points on the afternoon. This time the hero was defender Abby Erceg, getting her head on the end of a lobbed ball from Jaelene Daniels.

The Courage continue to sit in the driver’s seat atop the table, now with nine points, a perfect 3-0 through their first three contests. The Red Stars on the other hand, have some work to do.

Rory Dames played his best hand on Sunday afternoon, with Ertz, Short, Naeher, Gautrat (Brian), Nagasato and Watt all back in the starting XI. It looked to be paying off for the majority of the contest, until Erceg’s score in the 81st minute. 

Chicago now sits with one point through three matches heading into a week of rest before taking on the Utah Royals on Sunday, July 12 at 10 p.m ET. North Carolina on the other hand will square off against Sky Blue FC in their final preliminary contest on Monday, July 13 at 10 p.m. ET. You can stream both of those contests on CBS All Access. 


Portland Thorns FC 1, Washington Spirit 1
Sunday’s nightcap had it all except a victor in a 1-1 draw between the Portland Thorns and Washington Spirit.

Following a scoreless first half, U.S. WNT midfielder Lindsey Horan finally found the back of the net after hitting the woodwork multiple times through the Thorns’ first two matches. This time she refused to miss the mark, with a diving header off a Meghan Klingenberg free kick to secure the finish in the 69th minute.

The Spirit wouldn’t take long to answer however with fourth-overall selection in the 2020 NWSL College Draft Ashley Sanchez, whose backheel flick off a corner found the head of Sam Staab for the equalizer. 

Washington now sits with four points through their first three matches, tied for second in the table with Utah and Houston, while Portland is with two heading into their final match of the preliminary round.

The Spirit will take on the Dash to close out their prelim matches on Sunday, July 12 at 12:30 p.m. ET while the Thorns will square off with OL Reign at the same time on Monday, July 13. Both matches can be streamed live on CBS All Access.

Topics: 

UPDATE: June 10, 2020 - Major League Soccer announced it will restart the 2020 season with all 26 MLS clubs competing in the MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida beginning July 8. Upon completion of the tournament, MLS plans to continue its regular season with a revised schedule in home markets. The revised schedule may see certain matches from the original 2020 MLS regular season schedule being cancelled or rescheduled. The final number of matches and the schedule for the remainder of the 2020 MLS regular season and related ticket policies will be announced in the coming weeks.