The four biggest upsets of the NWSL season (so far)

Craig Mitchelldyer/ISI Photos

This young NWSL season has been wild.

It really feels like on any given day, anyone can beat anyone. It also feels like any team at their best can beat anyone 5-0. What that says about teams’ internal consistency is probably not great, but it is certainly making life fun for the fans. 

Now with the year’s first international break upon us, it only felt right to look back at the most surprising results so far, knowing we’re probably in for a few more shockers before season’s end. 

4. KC ties Houston 2-2 (May 23)

So it’s not an upset exactly since it ended in a draw, but this most certainly felt like a surprise win for Kansas City. 

With the score 2-1 in favor of the Dash, Elizabeth Ball received her second yellow in the 69’, leaving KC with ten players for the remainder of the match. They certainly didn’t dominate, but they did enough to keep the Dash from padding their lead, and in the 92’, Kansas City floated a ball into the box that found the head of a soaring Taylor Leach.

Goal, final whistle, celebration.

3. Chicago beats North Carolina 1-0 (June 5)

Chicago opened the season with a brutal 5-0 loss to Portland. They continued to struggle to find the back of the next through their next couple performances, and things only got worse when Julie Ertz went down with an injury. 

North Carolina had a slow start themselves, but were fresh off a 5-0 win over Louisville when they traveled to the Windy City. With Sam Mewis back, Lynn Williams healthy, and the Courage line up looking more like the one which won back-to-back NWSL Champions, few would have expected a struggling Chicago side to pull off a win. But Rachel Hill got her head on a 29’ corner kick and Alyssa Neaher handled the rest as the Red Stars pulled off the upset.

2. Louisville beats the Spirit 2-0 (May 21)

How could you not love this story? The Spirit dominated most of the match but were unable to find the back of the net. Then the hometown kid, Emina Ekic, subbed on late and scored the game winner in front of the Louisville fan section, leading her side to their first-ever win in club history.

CeCe Kizer sealed the deal moments later. 

This upset has aged well for Louisville, given that the Spirit currently sit second in the NWSL table — their only loss being to the upstart Kentucky club.

1. OL Reign goes in to Portland and wins 2-1 (May 23)

Portland was fresh off a Challenge Cup victory AND a 5-0 (5-0!) win over the Chicago Red Stars. Even though the Reign drew North Carolina the game before, few expected them to storm into Oregon and win in front of the Thorns’ home crowd. They did just that, with all three goals of the game happening in the first 15 minutes. 

The Thorns opened the game early with a Christine Sinclair stunner only to be matched by a Megan Rapinoe free kick and subsequent celebration in front of the Portland fans.

Shirley Cruz scored the winner moments later and the Reign held on. 

The icing on top of the cake? Rapinoe taunting Portland fans after the fact for loving her too much. 

Rivalry = officially renewed.