NWSL Plays of the Week: Ali Riley, Ebony Salmon score showstoppers

(Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images for Angel City FC)

All 12 NWSL clubs were back in action this weekend, with teams finding their form heading into the second half of the season.

The weekend’s six matchups featured upset wins, goals galore, and, of course, some stunning bangers.

The top three NWSL plays of the week:

Ali Riley’s curler

Angel City defender Ali Riley is usually stopping goals, not scoring them, but that changed Sunday. The 34-year-old notched her second goal of the 2022 regular season to helping ACFC to a 2-2 draw with her old club, the Orlando Pride.

Riley opened up scoring in the 4oth minute, streaking down the flank before ripping a curler into the side netting to put the scoresheet at 1-0.

Riley spurred the club’s attack from the outside back position, sending 10 passes into the final third while executing three successful long balls. On the other side of the ball, Riley won seven of her eight tackles while logging two interceptions and two clearances.

While Riley’s thrilling finish earns her a spot on the top plays of the week, her defensive efforts also deserve applause.

Ebony Salmon’s brace

Ebony Salmon is on a tear with Houston, recording six goals in five starts with the Dash.

In a stunning performance, the English striker added two goals to her tally in Houston’s 2-1 win over OL Reign Sunday.

Salmon opened her account in the 53rd minute, burying a penalty kick from the spot to equalize. Then, two minutes later, Salmon stamped her name on the scoresheet again, getting in behind OL Reign’s backline before striking a rocket past Phallon Tullis-Joyce for the go-ahead goal.

Salmon is fifth in the NWSL Golden Boot race, a stunning achievement given the 21-year-old played just 75 minutes for Racing Louisville before being traded to the Dash in June.

Hailie Mace’s banger

Hailie Mace’s second goal of the season was one to remember, with the Kansas City Current star helping her side to a rousing 2-1 win Sunday over the San Diego Wave.

The 25-year-old ripped a rocket from the top of the box after the Wave backline failed to mount a challenge. After getting the ball on her right foot, Mace struck a banger to the top right corner, putting the ball out of reach from Kailen Sheridan.

Mace created two chances for Kansas City, propelling her side’s offense to extend the Current’s unbeaten streak to nine games.

Honorable mentions

Sophia Smith dazzled for the Portland Thorns, scoring two goals in a brilliant individual effort. Megan Rapinoe also had a solid weekend, logging her first goal of 2022 with a cheeky half-volley.