A wrap on July means it’s time for Just Women’s Sports’ monthly NWSL Best XI.
While many teams were missing players in July due to international competitions, others were given the opportunity to shine. Eight clubs are represented in this 4-3-3 lineup, with the Kansas City Current, Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns sending two players each. The Orlando Pride earn their first Best XI nod of the year, and Lauren Barnes makes the list for a second consecutive month.
Ebony Salmon, Houston Dash
After not getting much playing time with Racing Louisville, Ebony Salmon was traded to the Houston Dash at the end of June. On July 16, she recorded the NWSL’s second hat trick of the year with her new team in a 4-1 win over the Red Stars. The 21-year-old received Player of the Week honors for her efforts before scoring her fourth goal of the season in a 4-2 win over NJ/NY Gotham FC on Sunday.
🎩 The Youngest NWSL Player to Score A Hat Trick 🎩Cheers to @ebony_salmon for taking home @budweiserusa Player of the Week honors 🍻@HoustonDash | #HoldItDown pic.twitter.com/h4sO17hyAQ— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) July 20, 2022
🎩 The Youngest NWSL Player to Score A Hat Trick 🎩Cheers to @ebony_salmon for taking home @budweiserusa Player of the Week honors 🍻@HoustonDash | #HoldItDown pic.twitter.com/h4sO17hyAQ
Savannah DeMelo, Racing Louisville FC
Scoring two goals and recording nine shots in the month of July, Savannah DeMelo has been one of Louisville’s most dependable players. The rookie played 90 minutes in all four games this month, mastering the art of drawing fouls and creating scoring opportunities. She now leads the league with a total of 37 chances created.
Yuki Nagasato, Chicago Red Stars
Yuki Nagasato displayed her impressive technical skills and versatility throughout July, playing both in the midfield and on the attack for a total of 347 minutes. She unleashed a number of lethal shots, and on July 2 added an assist off a header in Chicago’s 3-0 shutout win over Gotham FC.
Hina Sugita, Portland Thorns FC
Hina Sugita played every minute in July and scored two of her four goals on the season, including the game winner in a 2-1 victory over Racing Louisville. With an 80.3 passing percentage, she helped the Thorns extend their unbeaten streak to nine games while seven players were away on international duty.
Hina Sugita reacts the quickest and the Portland Thorns are ahead! 🌹 pic.twitter.com/Q1H2Z0KVF9— Attacking Third (@AttackingThird) July 30, 2022
Hina Sugita reacts the quickest and the Portland Thorns are ahead! 🌹 pic.twitter.com/Q1H2Z0KVF9
Yazmeen Ryan, Portland Thorns FC’
Yazmeen Ryan rose to the top of the assists board with her fourth helper in a 5-0 shutout of Gotham on July 16. She also added a goal in a 1-1 draw with Angel City FC on July 1. Defensively, she has a tackle success rate of 73.7 percent this season.
Vanessa DiBernardo, Chicago Red Stars
Playing every minute since June 12, Vanessa DiBernardo has had a big impact on Chicago’s attack, most notably notching a goal against Gotham at the beginning of July to help the Red Stars to a 3-0 win. She went on to add an assist and record nine shots throughout the month.
Kylie Strom, Orlando Pride
On a team that’s lost a lot of stars this season, including Sydney Leroux and Marta, Kylie Strom has risen to the occasion. Playing 349 minutes in July, she started the month off strong with a goal in a 2-2 draw with Racing Louisville. A week later, Strom forced an own goal game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Houston. Her efforts helped the Pride close out the month of July with an unbeaten record.
Kristen Edmonds, Kansas City Current
Kristen Edmonds has been an exceptional passer of late, recording an 89 percent success rate through three games in July. She’s also excelled at clearances (25) and recoveries (36), helping a backline that conceded just one goal while she was on the field.
Lauren Barnes, OL Reign
Lauren “Lu” Barnes does it all, from defending to sending crosses into the box to delivering dangerous shots from the top of the 18. In July, she had 27 recoveries and a 73 percent passing success rate. Her leadership has also been invaluable to her teammates, including Sam Hiatt, who recently expressed gratitude for Barnes’ vocal presence on the backline.
Kristen McNabb, San Diego Wave FC
Kristen McNabb scored her first goal of the season against Angel City on July 9. She also recorded the most shots she’s had in a month this season with seven. Playing every possible minute in July as both a midfielder and a defender, McNabb signed a two-year contract extension later in the month with an option for an extra year with San Diego.
AD Franch, Kansas City Current
There was no stopping AD Franch, who was named NWSL Player of the Week on July 13 and saved a penalty kick against the Spirit to preserve a 1-0 win, her second shutout of the season. The following week she recorded a second consecutive clean sheet and her third of the season in a 1-0 win over OL Reign. So far this season, she’s saving 74 percent of the shots she faces.
.@ADizzle23 STOPPAGE TIME PK SAVE 🚫 pic.twitter.com/W54zjPwk6c— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) July 10, 2022
.@ADizzle23 STOPPAGE TIME PK SAVE 🚫 pic.twitter.com/W54zjPwk6c
Jessa Braun is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering the NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @jessabraun.