Week 2 of the NWSL season is in the books, and if it's any indication of what's to come, the 2014 season is going to be a lot closer than anyone expected. There was a big win in Washington, Chicago made its debut and Houston got the first win in franchise history. There were penalties, first goals, spectacular misses. All that, and Seattle didn't even play.
The Washington Spirit scored three goals in one game, in the correct goal and everything
Coming in to Saturday's game, it seemed like the best the Spirit could hope for was to contain FC Kansas City's offense and maybe -- maybe -- steal a point. But instead, Washington knocked off FCKC thanks to a brace from Diana Matheson and one from Christine Nairn. There's always the chance that at some point Washington will turn back into the Washington we got to know so well a season ago, but Mark Parsons' team managed to give up the equalizer and not spend the rest of the game alternately curled up in a ball and running into each other is definitely a positive sign. It makes for a huge difference from 2013.
Matheson scored just four minutes in, before Amy Rodriguez equalized in the 29th. But the Spirit kept pressing and found a way to net two more first half goals and then not totally implode, despite being outshot 17-7.
The good news for FCKC? A-Rod's goal was her second in as many games. The bad news? She's the only one on the team who's managed to score at all and two games in, the Blues are winless and hovering near the bottom of the table.
Julie Johnston, welcome to the NWSL
A week after running over Washington despite the absence of Abby Wambach, Western NY never quite got going against Chicago. The Red Stars kept things even and did well to contain a Flash offense that seemed so threatening a week ago.
Western NY gave Chicago a ton of space and the Red Stars took advantage, keeping the flash back line plenty busy. Jen Hoy and second half sub Zakiya Bywaters kept the pressure on, and then a pair of rookies combined to give the Red Stars their first goal of the season. Julie Johnston was able to shake her defender and head home a Vanessa DiBernardo corner to put Chicago up by one. And without Wambach -- either as offensive threat, or perhaps more importantly here, emotional leader -- the Flash couldn't find an answer.
"I was like, do I clear or do I put it in? Where am I?"
Christie Rampone scored her first professional goal. Ever. Despite playing in all three pro leagues, the 38-year-old Rampone had never scored a goal. Not in three seasons in the WUSA, not in three seasons in WPS, not last season in NWSL. But after sitting out Sky Blue's season opener with a toe injury, Rampone rang in her 2014 NWSL campaign by finally ending her goalless streak. The Sky Blue and USWNT captain has four international goals, but had never managed one in the pros dating back to 2001 when she was with the WUSA's NY Power. Rampone's goal came when a Sophie Schmidt header rang off the post and bounced off Rampone's body and in, giving Sky Blue the 1-0 lead over the visiting Thorns.
It didn't last long though, with Portland netting the equalizer on an Allie Long PK that came from a questionable handball call on Kelley O'Hara. And then in stoppage time, just for fun, we got a second and even more questionable handball call that led to a Sky Blue PK. O'Hara took it and promptly put it way wide, because of course she did.
Houston's first-ever win
Although the Boston Breakers managed to at least make things interesting with a pair of goals -- including one in the first minute from Heather O'Reilly -- the defense could never get out of its own way long enough to hold on to a lead. Twice the Houston Dash fell behind, but thanks to Ella Masar and Teresa Noyola, Houston was able to equalize both times. Noyola put away the game winner and her second of the night on a PK, the second given up in as many games by the Breakers. Boston, we have a problem.
Washington Spirit 3 - 1 FC Kansas City
Chicago Red Stars 1 - 0 Western NY Flash
Sky Blue FC 1 - 1 Portland Thorns
Boston Breakers 2 - 3 Houston Dash