NWSL: Challenge Cup Notebook #5
- 3 min read

NWSL: Challenge Cup Notebook #5

NWSL: Challenge Cup Notebook #5 by Leo Baudhuin

This past Wednesday saw the elimination of two more teams – both during regulation this time – in the semifinal round of the Challenge Cup. In the first match, the Portland Thorns fell 1-0 to the Houston Dash off a 69th minute scramble-in-the-box Rachel Daly goal. Sky Blue made an impressive run at a comeback in the second, but still ended up losing 3-2 to the Chicago Red Stars.

Soccer-wise, there's plenty to be said about those games: how the Thorns used everything in the tank to pull off a win against the North Carolina Courage in the game before and looked simply exhausted; how Houston, for their credit, played rather well and seem to be coming off a multi-game slump; how St Georges was incredibly influential in Chicago's attack; and how – as head coach Freya Coombe said after the match – Sky Blue probably could've come back from a three goal deficit if there had been ten more minutes in the game.

The thing is, I'm still kind of bummed that the two teams that I'm the most emotionally invested in were knocked out on the same day. So instead, I'm going to write about astrology.

As it stands, the sun is a couple of days into Leo, and we saw that influence play out in the first NWSL matches of Leo season.

For the Thorns, an incredibly Leo-heavy team, all that energy didn't prove enough to get them past Houston. But their five available Leos – Angela Salem, Emily Menges, Meghan Klingenberg, Emily Ogle, and Kelli Hubly – were some of the brighter spots on a team that looked very burnt out and like they were putting everything on Rocky Rodríguez.

Leo season centers one's creativity and ego, so it isn't surprising that Christen Westphal, a Virgo on the Thorns' roster, did very well for them on the attack, showcasing her skill on the ball.

Houston is a team with only one Leo: defender Erin Simon who did not appear for the Dash in their semifinal match. They also have a notably large amount of Pisces (one of the least self-centered signs) – four of whom were given the starting nod. Despite an overall solid performance, the majority of Houston's chances and their eventual goal came from their two starting fire signs in Rachel Daly and Bri Visalli. A Sagittarius and Aries, respectively, Leo season serves to exemplify their energy on the pitch; the result of that was evident.

While it was the Dash's fire signs that shone, Chicago's Leos were specifically among the bright spots in their win over Sky Blue. St Georges contributed a goal and an assist from her fullback position, while Savannah McCaskill scored the eventual game-winner. Offseason acquisition Rachel Hill, an Aries, added a tally of her own for the Red Stars, while fellow Aries Julie Ertz was the unfortunate player on the end of a Chicago own-goal – perhaps an instance of Aries determination and focus going slightly awry.

On New Jersey's side, Midge Purce led the team in touches and completed six tackles. She seemed determined to create a goal of her own if it came down to it; although she's a Virgo, her play was a clear manifestation of Leo energy. Sky Blue's second most active player in the match was Sagittarius McCall Zerboni, who commanded the midfield in the way we've become accustomed to in her time with the North Carolina Courage.

Coming Up

Sunday, July 26

  • Houston Dash vs Chicago Red Stars, 12:30 PM Eastern

The final will be available live on CBS or streamed on CBS All Access in the United States and on Twitch for international viewers.

(Photo credit: Bryan Byerly/ISI Photos)