NWSL Snap: Bev Yanez emphatically gets the W

Time to look back on the weekend's action, from a former player's first victory in the dugout to transfer chaos.

NWSL Snap: Bev Yanez emphatically gets the W
Bev Yanez is suitably drenched in drink after a big first three points in her career || Racing Louisville

Note: Welcome to 'NWSL Snap' – A weekly Monday morning brief whip-around of the weekend's action, talking points & nonsense from the U.S. league. Expect quick updates, curious notes, and some standout statistics. It is included in the FREE Squad Depth subscription.

NWSL Matchday Five Results:
Orlando 1-0 San Diego || Washington 2-0 Gotham
Louisville 5-1 Utah || KCC 5-2 Bay || Portland 4-1 Houston
Seattle 1-2 Chicago || ACFC 2-1 NCC

Watch NWSL highlights here

The Snapshot

Waiting for a win isn't fun. A bit like waiting for the kettle to boil, or toast to...well...toast, time stands still. Feels achy. Unfresh and unenjoyable.

Of course, ending that wait, breaking that streak, is thrilling.

And so too was Racing Louisville head coach Bev Yanez getting her first-ever win as a head coach. After starting her debut NWSL season with four consecutive draws, the weekend ended with the Kentucky club, and their Californian manager, finally getting to put a "one" in the "W" column.

“It feels amazing for this group. They work so hard every single day to be the best that they can be and to be able to have this breakthrough, obviously, it’s something we’ve really wanted and we’ve been yearning for," Yanez beamed on Saturday.

Yanez and her team made sure to get that historic win in some fashion too. In front of a club-record 11,365 fans, Racing smashed a club-record five goals past the struggling 2024 expansion side the Utah Royals. Their total of 3.74 xG was also a single-match Louisville record. Rookie Reilyn Turner, who has turned heads by getting into threatening areas constantly, also got the first goal of her career.

More often than not, Louisville has felt like one of those "almost" NWSL teams since their arrival in 2021. They have limped through three seasons perpetually on the outskirts of the playoffs, drawing more matches than anyone else. A restart was needed.

Consistently, the lavender-clad club has attracted exciting players but has somehow managed to pair them with one wholly toxic coach, in Christy Holly (2021), and another rather withdrawn and flat one, Kim Björkegren (2022-23).

But real change is afoot. A feeling that the club is ascending into the realms of seriousness is finally here. Yanez is a breath of fresh air for a fanbase and a city crying out for some passion and conceptually attractive footy.

It's not complicated stuff either. In the last two matches, Louisville's hybrid 4-4-2 asks combative central midfielders, Taylor Flint and Jaelin Howell, to do the dirty work while Savannah DeMelo bombs on in-between the lines and in the press. They break quickly, in a devastating fashion.

Out wide, Uchenna Kanu has been a revelation this season. Another header at the back post against Utah was her fourth goal and third in the air of the season. All four have come in transition.

In 2023, Kanu did not find the back of the net in the NWSL regular season. For now, she is the league's joint top goal scorer.

The hunger for success, from the city of Louisville, is feeding into these players who look hungry to make the most of every error, or moment of hesitation the opposition, is giving them and turn it into chances. And, now wins.

Deadline daze

From Croix Bethune's pin-point laser into the bottom corner on CBS proper, to Claire Emslie's devilish dead-ball free kick, to Tatum Milazzo saving another shot off the line, the footy this NWSL weekend was tremendous. Oh, and Mal Swanson looking very very BACK!

However, with the NWSL's transfer deadline closing on Friday, plenty of storylines were snatching our attention Friday and heading into Saturday.

On Friday, I broke the news that San Diego had sealed the trade for Maria Sanchez for a fee of $500,000. You can read more about that story at Pro Soccer Wire. The Dash also sent Emily Alvarado to Portland in exchange for $85,000.

Those transfers freed up the cash to bring in defensive help in the shape of NWSL stalwart Paige Neilsen ($100,000) from Angel City and Brazilian phenomenon Tarciane ($500,000) from Corinthians

After less than a year with the club, Amandine Henry switched ACFC black for Royals yellow. Utah was busy right before the deadline, and brought in Kiwi Macey Leigh Fraser from Wellington Phoenix and Spaniard Ana Tejada from Real Sociedad. Both are on three-year deals. A lot to unpack there, some scratching of the head.

Quote(s) of the week

"I feel like the main thing I want to say is that I trust Fran [Alonso] and I trust the system that he's trying to implement for this team. The whole brand and idea that he's trying to bring to this club, I fully trust it. I know the results haven't really shown that...But I mean, we're in a rebuild, whether we want to call it that or not."
-- Diana Ordóñez, Houston Dash

I was impressed with Ordóñez's openness and honest disposition when facing the media on Saturday night, after another tough loss for Houston. Despite being in her third professional season, it's easy to forget that she's only 22. Her maturity and leadership qualities were on display.

Through the first month of the season, the Dash have been messy, disorganized, and full of naive ideas. There's been plenty of individual player errors but the overwhelming feeling is that head coach Alonso isn't coaching this team up very well in his desired 3-4-1-2 structure.

This weekend, Alonso tried to defend in a 4-2-3-1 off the ball to simplify things, but the patterns of play in possession looked worse than they had done in previous weeks. After going 2-0 down early on, he then made big changes to the personnel and positions in the 30th minute, which actually made the team look better than in their starting shape.

All this is to say, Ordóñez went out of her way to highlight the "rebuild" that isn't always spoken aloud in a league full of parity like the NWSL. Every team wants to win, and wants to succeed, and calling out your chaos isn't for everyone. Furthermore, the forward has backed the manager. Something that fans and media are wondering themselves.


A good weekend for: Home teams (sorry Seattle)

With no draws this weekend in the NWSL, home teams absolutely cleaned up by winning six of the weekend's seven matches. It's also notable this was by a very lopsided total goals ratio of 20-7. Heavily one-sided.

The sheer size of the United States makes an away a tall task for almost any team. Travel, a lack of preparation and the miles take their toll. Of course, as Casey Stoney said of her sluggish-appearing San Diego team who have been on the road for 10 days straight: "That's no excuse."

In 2023, only one team had an away win percentage above 36%. And, that was the Wave with 54% (six wins out of 11). In that same season, the average NWSL away team picked up 1.18 pts per match away compared to 1.48 pts at home.

For now, the exception to the rule is Chicago. Lorne Donaldson's team are the only away side to pick up all three points this weekend (sorry Seattle). It's the second road win for the Red Stars, who are still unbeaten on their travels with an impressive seven points from a potential nine. Long live Lorneball.

Chicago's Mal Swanson celebrates her ludicrously sharp left-footed strike away to the Seattle Reign || Imagn

NWSL Feels XI – Matchday Four

Sort of like a team of the week – mostly gut feels, and who brought the vibes

(Notable: Apologies to Angel City's Claire Emslie, and the Current's Bia Zaneratto, who were brilliant this weekend, this is a very very hard task. But here was how I felt. I'm not perfect.)