Tonight: The NWSL Challenge Cup kicks off
The NWSL season begins with a rematch of last year's Challenge Cup title game.
The Chicago Red Stars filled up the scoreboard, a Portland Thorns rookie made her long-awaited debut, and the Orlando Pride returned to action in what was a packed weekend for the NWSL. Here’s everything you might have missed:
.@chiredstarsPR are running rampant ????@vdibernardo10 now puts her name on the scoresheet.— National Women's Soccer League (@NWSL) September 20, 2020
3-1 | #CHIvNJ
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The Chicago Red Stars’ Kealia Watt mesmerizes her defender before cutting the ball back to the top of the box, finding teammate Vanessa DiBernardo. Bernardo rifles in a shot, nailing the side panel of the far post. Sorry, Sky Blue, no one was going to stop that ball from ending up in the back of the net. DiBernardo helped Chicago pick up the 4-1 win with this absolute banger off the beautiful team build up. *Chef’s kiss*
We missed seeing Orlando Pride play in the NWSL’s Challenge Cup. We especially missed seeing Ashlyn Harris make these types of saves. North Carolina’s Lauren Millet drives to the box and places a ball behind the defensive line to Debinha, who beats her defender inside to direct the ball back post. But Harris makes a phenomenal save using both foot and hand, stopping one of the league’s top players from the six-yard box in order to hold a shutout and maintain a scoreless draw. We’ve watched this clip so many times and we’re still not sure how she did this.
Kealia Watt flexes some serious speed here, completing a blistering 40-yard dash all while dribbling her way straight to goal. One-on-one with the keeper, Watt confidently pushes the ball into the back of the net, netting her first of two goals on the day. Watt also picked up an assist in Chicago’s 4-1 dismantling of Sky Blue FC. Someone grab a stopwatch and get her and JJ on the starting blocks.
The Portland Thorns are famous for giving their team’s goalscorers roses after each game. We think Simone Charley deserves a bouquet after this one. Pulling down the long chip from teammate Lindsey Horan, Charley turns inside to lose her defender. She drives to goal, slipping in between two Utah Royals players before stuffing it into the near post. Charley’s goal opened the floodgates in Portland’s 3-0 win over the Royals, all while earning the postgame approval of her teammate Meghan Klingenberg.
???? Debut goal for @sophsssmith ????— National Women's Soccer League (@NWSL) September 20, 2020
And what a class finish it was from the 2020 No. 1 college draft pick!
2-0 | #PORvUTA
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The No. 1 pick in the 2020 NWSL draft, Sophia Smith is all business as she scores a beautiful header just minutes into her professional career. Meghan Klingenberg intercepts a pass near the corner flag, turns inside, and hits a rocket to the penalty area, setting up the vaunted rookie. After having to sit out the Challenge Cup due to injury, it didn’t take Smith long to prove that’ she’s already an impact player.
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