Christen Press Answers Critics With Sick Nutmeg, Goal On NWSL Return
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The stars of the 2019 Women’s World Cup are returning to the NWSL and if Friday night was any evidence, they’re ready to keep people talking about women’s soccer beyond just once every four years.
All four goals in a 2-2 draw between the Utah Royals FC and Portland Thorns FC were scored by Women’s World Cup stars on Friday night in Sandy, Utah, yet the best performance of them all came from a USWNT player who didn’t even make it onto the pitch en route to the Americans’ fourth World Cup title.
Christen Press (more on her later) and Rachel Corsie scored for the Royals and Christine Sinclair and Lindsey Horan scored for the Thorns in a good day for returning Women’s World Cup players. Press, Horan and Sauerbrunn all helped the U.S. repeat as world champions.
But with all due respect to those players, it was Adrianna Franch, the third-string USWNT goalkeeper, who was the star on Friday. Franch has never really made the most of her few USWNT opportunities, but anyone who follows the NWSL knows she’s an absolute beast in goal, as she showed again Friday, returning to the Thorns after receiving no playing time in France.
Canada’s Sinclair, soon to be the most prolific international goal scorer of all time, opened the scoring for the visitors with a sweet volley in the ninth minute.
As good as that strike was, Press equalized later in the half with the best goal of the match.
Press received some heat for working with Barstool Sports — a website known for misogynist, sexist and racist takes — during the USWNT’s ticker-tape parade in New York City. She answered her critics with a sick nutmeg and goal in the 43rd minute.
Let’s watch that nutmeg again because Tobin Heath isn’t the only Nutmeg Queen in the NWSL.
The second half supplied the late drama that the Women’s World Cup perhaps lacked, with two goals in the closing three minutes.
Horan bashed in a go-ahead goal for the Thorns in the 87th minute, though the strike went down as a Sauerbrunn own goal.
Late goal for @ThornsFC?
— NWSL (@NWSL) July 20, 2019
But the match wouldn’t end there.
Scotland captain Rachel Corsie came up with a 90th-minute equalizer to send the Utah fans home at least somewhat happy.
HOLD UP. @RachelCorsie14 has something to say.
— NWSL (@NWSL) July 20, 2019
While Utah had to come up with a late equalizer to earn a point, the Royals might feel they should’ve won the match but for Franch. The Thorns keeper was incredible throughout, making a string of big saves to keep her side in the game.
Even after the Royals tied the match, Franch came up big to save a point for the visitors, starting with a face save.
With the draw, Portland moved a point ahead of the North Carolina Courage for first place in the NWSL standings. Utah moved into the top five, only out of the playoff positions on goal differential.
And if you are still trying to decide which NWSL club to support now that the World Cup is over, take our quiz here.