The North Carolina Courage bounced back in a major way as they hammered Seattle Reign FC in Seattle a week after suffering their first defeat of the season to Utah Royals FC.
Katelyn Rowland - 4: Rowland spilled the free kick that allowed Oyster to score the first goal of the match. Lack of ball control, awareness and hesitation have plagued the young keeper all season. She wasn’t specifically bad, but there was still a lack of communication at times and it was clear that her confidence was shaken early in the game. She improved as the game progressed.
Merritt Mathias - 8.5: Mathias had the unenviable task of facing off against Megan Rapinoe all game and she definitely came out the better player by comparison. Even forgetting the goal, Mathias consistently shut down Seattle attack and found herself in perfect position. She had a few errant passes, but everyone mishits a ball or two. Oh yeah, and she absolutely embarrassed Rapinoe on the goal. It was her second amazing goal of the season.
Kaleigh Kurtz - 6: With Dahlkemper still out, Kurtz is looking like a true NWSL starter (which is good, there is a pretty good chance that the Courage lose Dahlkemper in the offseason). She was far from perfect, including a few bad clears and times where she was left standing still while the ball was played around her near the goal, but most of the time she made the right play and shut down the Reign offensive possession. She still lacks confidence in small-ball situations and is more prone to give a big clear, but that’s fine for a defender getting her fourth start.
Abby Erceg - 5.5: Erceg was good, but the game just didn’t find her that often. On offense, she had one header but mostly couldn’t find the ball. On defense, she was average. She lost the ball a few times and had to try to make a sliding attempt to block a cross. Despite her size, she didn’t make many set-piece plays on defense, but that was mostly dictated by the trajectory of Rapinoe’s free kicks. If the ball had been played near her more often she might have had a better score.
Jaelene Hinkle - 7.5: Hinkle dominated the left side of Seattle for the first half, including a few times when she dribbled through three Seattle players to break pressure and jump start the Courage attack. As the game wore on there were times when she seemed a little overconfident and turned the ball over, but those situations were few and far between. Her cross to the head of Lynn was a thing of absolute beauty.
Denise O’Sullivan - 4: O’Sullivan might not have even been on the field and I wouldn’t have noticed for 75 minutes of the game. She made a few good touches and a few bad ones, but really she seemed unable to find a place for herself in the game. Part of the problem was that she was playing a more holding position than normal with Sam Mewis out, but she generally finds a lot more of the ball. As a midfielder, you have to put yourself into the play, and she just didn’t this game.
McCall Zerboni - 3.5: This game was a disaster for Zerboni. Unlike O’Sullivan, Zerboni did insert herself into the game and she made lots of errors, failing to make good passes or win tackles. More than once she put her defense in a bad position by overplaying a pass and leaving Seattle in possession without slowing down the play. This was an uncharacteristic game where, I think, she tried to do too much. We can forget this one and move on because McCall is still one of the best midfielders in the league.
Debinha - 4.5: Debinha was split on her passes. Sometimes she got the ball to her teammate, but far too often it was easily cut out by a Seattle player. I can forgive that, but her shot was also off. She hit the crossbar from inside the 6-yard box and never really challenged Lydia Williams. There were at least four really good shot opportunities that she botched. If it had been a closer game those misses would have mattered.
Crystal Dunn - 9: For everything that the other three midfielders failed to do, Dunn did it successfully. She was a presence defensively, winning the ball and intercepting passes. She played a number of excellent through-balls to her teammates to break the Seattle defense, and then, of course, she scored a brace and gave the Courage a commanding lead. From box to box, Dunn was right on point.
Jess McDonald - 5.5: This was a weird game for McDonald. She rarely found herself with the ball in front of the net. Instead, she was pushing it up the wings and crossing it in to her fellow forwards. This effort was admirable but unimpressive. Her first few hits were far too long, then some of them went right at the keeper, and in the end, she didn’t make much of an impact on the game. Her quick throw did earn the second goal for North Carolina, so that’s something.
Lynn Williams - 6.5: Lynn scored one goal and had two assists, so she has to get a positive score...but you just can’t give up the opportunities she did. The PK attempt was telegraphed and allowed Lydia Williams to make an easy save. If you are going to focus entirely on placement, you have to put more power behind the shot. Then she had a chance at redemption and hit the ball right at the keeper on a breakaway. After those two mistakes, she became much less aggressive and tended to pass the ball off instead of shooting, which worked very well. She also got a great header off to equalize the match, so all-in-all, good game. It could have been legendary, though.
Kristen Hamilton: NA
Meredith Speck: NA
Darian Jenkins: NA
All of the subs came on after the fourth goal was scored, replacing offensive players. They made the right runs and worked the clock, but their game performance was not appropriate to be judged.