NWSL Snap: Rain rain go away, Reign reign came to play

There was chaos as far as the eye could see in the NWSL weekend. 10-player wins, goalie errors, and a four-hour rain delays.

NWSL Snap: Rain rain go away, Reign reign came to play
Photos courtesy of NWSL clubs and the national weather service

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 Seven/Eight Results:

Orlando 4-1 NCC || Chicago 2-4 Washington || Bay 2-3 Portland

Utah 1-2 ACFC || Seattle 2-1 San Diego
Portland 2-1 Wash Spirit || Gotham 1-0 NCC
Houston 1-1 KCC || Orlando 1-0 Louisville || Bay 1-2 Chicago

Watch NWSL highlights here

The Snapshot

No one wants halftime to be four hours long. But the weather goddesses had other ideas when the Houston Dash met the Kansas City Current.

Over the past few days in Southeast Texas, there have been severe storms and flooding on the outskirts of the city. In some cases, hundreds of people needed to be evacuated.

On Sunday, the weather didn't relent. As torrential rain and thunderstorms poured down, the NWSL was left cursing their luck because it was the match that was selected for a premium spot on national CBS proper television.

The match kicked off just after midday central time on Sunday and was eventually completed around 6:00 p.m. After showing the first half, CBS elected to re-broadcast the 2023 NWSL Championship Final during the remainder of the scheduled tele slot.

A tough day for the league trying to maximize its outreach and new media deal, and those trying not to rewatch Megan Rapinoe rupturing her Achilles.

Of course, the toughest part of an outrageously long delay is the mental and physical toll on the players.

Despite the deluge from above, Dash players pour more water on goalscorer Amanda West || Courtesy Houston Dash

Credit to both squads for being able to complete the match, and medical teams for making sure the players' bodies could handle the remaining 45 minutes and added time. The fact this delay came during one of the few midweek matchdays in the NWSL calendar is also frustrating for all.

According to rookie Amanda West – who scored her first professional goal, off of a dreadful AD Franch handling error in the KC box – the Dash stayed upbeat in the locker room having been reassured by the league the match would be completed on Sunday.

The rookie credited teammate Jyllissa Harris for her DJ skills in the locker room, and said Houston made sure to eat snacks, get treatment, and dance through the weather delay. True squads are built on contributions from everyone.

For Kansas City, Alex Spaanstra said that her team tuned into the end of the F1 Grand Prix in Miami, while also playing several rounds of the popular card game 'Exploding Kittens'. Which apparently is for people who "are into explosions and kittens."

Something to give you an idea of the dressing room vibes

Current head coach Vlatko Andonovski, whose team failed to put away chances that would have easily won the game, bemoaned the delay as it meant his team's schedule and preparation for Wednesday's match against Seattle was wrecked.

"We missed a flight, we got to figure out now. We don't have a hotel, we got to figure out a hotel. We don't have flights for tomorrow, we got to figure out flights. We had trainings for some players that we believe needed training time to be able to perform on Wednesday," Andonovski told reporters.

I wrote on Saturday about whether Fran Alonso would be given much more time in Houston, and this big result will certainly extend his stay. The reaction from the head coach and his players was positive a sign that no one is throwing in the towel.

Even though they were second best for many phases, this was a big result against one of the best teams in the NWSL.

The Dash were naive and sloppy once again in the opening 30 minutes where the Current racked up 13 shots and 1.57 xG. Alonso and West agreed they showed the Current "too much respect" in those early exchanges.

For the remainder of the match, the game was much more balanced (xG 0.77 – 0.94). Especially, between minutes 30 and 71 (when West scored).

The brilliant Temwa Chawinga, who scored her fifth goal of the season in the first half, had two big chances on the counter in the second half but couldn't sneak the ball past Jane Campbell. The Dash keeper equaled an NWSL record of 12 saves in a single match, which tells you everything you need to know about how impressive she continues to be.

Veronica Latsko, what have you done?

There's good goals, bad goals, and goals that make you say "how the hell did they do that?"

Veronica Latsko's late winner against the San Diego Wave on Friday night was one of those. How did she crane her neck in such a way as to loop the ball into the perfect part of the net? The neck muscle follow-through was very satisfying. Evading one of the NWSL's best keeper in Kailen Sheridan along the way.

After five straight losses, this was an incredible win for Seattle who have struggled to inspire so far in 2024. Chaos was the order of the night, as Tropical Storm Chesky blew through Lumen Field on Friday, but Laura Harvey's team faired much better in the fight than their Californian opponent.

Referee Danielle Chesky has a bad reputation in the NWSL, and she did herself no favours as once again a game got out of hand on her watch. The chaos came early when Tziarra King was sent off after nine minutes after an apparent behind-the-back slap to the face of Kaitlyn Torpey. Admittedly, after many watches of the replay, I felt that it was hard to see.

Despite having one less player, the Reign didn't look second-best at all. In terms of position on the pitch, chances and duels, it felt like Seattle were on top for large chunks as the Wave's streak of showing fatigue showed. One should note, Casey Stoney did heavily rotate her team. With about five normal San Diego starters missing.

A bad weekend for: Goalies with the ball

Sheesh. I don't think we've seen so many blunders from great players in quick succession. Three big-time nominees for G-lol of the season.

There was Sheridan's heavy touch allowed Bethany Balcer to tackle her 12-yard out from goal and score into an open net. Stolen off the toe.

Then, Franch lost focus and got caught fumbling the ball in a similarly treacherous position in sodden Houston. Slip and scuffle.

And, even Alyssa Naeher was involved in a moment to forget when she tried to clear the ball into Tess Boade in San Jose. At least the USA national team shot-stopper would finish the day on the winning side. Hilarious deflection.

Random stat to know: 1.88 goal involvements per 90 minutes

Four matches and two starts (292 minutes) into her NWSL career, Barbra Banda is performing at a level the league has never quite seen before.

With four goals and two assists – plus a penalty drawn and a shot that was rebounded and tucked away by a teammate – teams simply have not found a way to stop her. Every phase of her game, decision-making, technique, and physicality, is a cut above. Banda is one step ahead.

Barbra Banda celebrates with her teammates by holding up an 'L' for Luana, the Orlando player recently diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma | Courtesy Orlando Pride

I am sure the rate at which Banda is wrecking teams will eventually slow down a bit. But maybe not below one goal involvement per match. As Courtney Stith put it this weekend, the real winners are the teams that got to face Orlando before Banda arrived from China in April.

The 24-year-old netted a midweek brace in a demolition of the NC Courage before then thumping in a majestic header to beat Racing Louisville. However, for me, it was her deft and perfectly weighted through ball assist, to play in Ally Watt for the opening goal against the Courage, that was her finest bit of skill this week. Total Banda.

NWSL Feels XI – Matchday Seven

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