A look at both ends of the NWSL table, and Rose Lavelle debuts for Gotham

A look at intriguing takeaways from the NWSL season so far involving the Current and Reign, and a Q+A with Rose Lavelle

I believe there are two intriguing takeaways from the NWSL season so far, and both are on opposite sides of the table. The Kansas City Current are thriving under Vlatko Andonovski. And, what the heck is going on with the Seattle Reign?

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And yes, I know, most teams are only six games into the season. Also, teams are still establishing their identities (I’m looking at you, Portland and San Diego).

But first, let’s look at Andonovski. Without the glare of an international spotlight, and without the national team apparatus looking over his shoulder, Andonovski has the Current humming along with five wins and one draw.

The Current have twenty goals, nearly double that of the next highest totals — 11 for North Carolina and the Washington Spirit. Forwards Bia Zaneratto and Temwa Chawinga have four goals apiece. The Current downed Angel City in Los Angeles 3-1 on Saturday night. Midfielder Claire Lavogez scored a pair of late goals for the victory. So far, 11 different players have scored for the Current this season.

“The one thing that I like about this team is nobody cares who scores the goals,” Andonovski said last week. “That just speaks about the mentality of the team and the culture that the team comes first.”

The Current defeated Angel City because of second-half adjustments. But just like Andonovski’s previous teams, his emphasis is on his team, as opposed to game-planning for opponents.

Important for the Current were that midfielders Lo LaBonta and Debinha were available to play after injuries. Their presences are crucial with mid-week games coming up.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Reign, who have one win and five losses and sit at the bottom of the table. Forward Bethany Balcer has been a bright spot, scoring two of the team’s four goals. Seattle lost a few high profile players from last year’s squad that played in the NWSL title game – Megan Rapinoe retired, and both Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett went to NJ/NY Gotham FC.

I’m not altogether sure that the roster shakeup is what’s to blame for the team’s struggles. But this is definitely still a team finding its identity — and a bit unusual to see from a squad led by Laura Harvey.

Following the Reign’s 1-0 loss at North Carolina on Saturday, forward Tziarra King said she was hopeful Seattle would turn it around soon.

“We’re still at the beginning of the season. We’ve just got to keep putting our heads down
and digging through this rough patch and once we get the product out there that we want,
we will be a force, so we’ve just got to get there,” she said.

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Must-click links

ESPN’s Jeff Kassouf with an early look on the NWSL MVP possibilities

KC Current fire head of medical because of fraternization

How Amy Rodriguez and Bev Yanez are changing the NWSL, from Jackie Guttierez

Equalizer with a nice story on Croix Bethune

Marta says this will be her last year with the Brazilian national team

NBC with a feature on Maria Sanchez

Crystal Palace promoted in the WSL

The realities of ACL injuries, from the Guardian

Spanish government will oversee Spanish football

Yahoo with a report on ticket prices and salaries in English football

Want women’s hockey content? Subscribe to The Ice Garden!

Here at The IX, we’re collaborating with The Ice Garden to bring you Hockey Friday. And if you want the women’s hockey goodness 24/7? Well, you should subscribe to The Ice Garden now!

Q+A with Rose Lavelle

Rose Lavelle has been out with a lower leg injury but finally made her debut for Gotham on Sunday in a 1-1 draw with Racing Louisville. And, she scored! Racing scored first in stoppage time, before Lavelle scored seven minutes into stoppage time to avoid the loss at home.

Here’s a bit of what she said afterward:

Question: What was the debut like for you?

Lavelle: Yeah, it was fun. It’s a fun group to play with a lot of really technical players, so I felt like we can find a lot of joy on the ball, which was fun. I think obviously we hope to be a little more clinical in the final third and finish chances, give more chances, create more chances. But it was a fun, fun game to start out and it’s really fun to be a part of it and play.

Question: How did you feel after being injured?

Lavelle: Yeah, I mean, it’s never from the start that you’re injured — so that was kind of frustrating. But I think credit to the team and the staff, they helped push me to get me back out there. Made it fun for me. Like I said, I think the crowd was great. You never want to fall behind in stoppage. But I think our reaction to that was really great and to get the goal immediately after was good.

Question: Could you talk a little bit about some of the bonding that you’ve been doing with the team here in New York?

Lavelle: Like I said, I mean, I feel like I keep repeating myself — it is a really fun group to be a part of, a lot of fun players, but a lot of fun personalities. New York, New Jersey has been really fun. I’ve been gallivanting all over the place. Been going to a lot of bookstores. There’s so much to explore. So that’s been a lot of fun. Yeah. The key word is fun today.

Question: What has been your assessment of the team so far?

Lavelle: I mean, I think obviously, we want to be getting more points out of the games. It’s not like the most ideal start, but it’s obviously early on in the season. You don’t want to be peaking now. We want to be peaking at the right time. So I think there’s like a huge opportunity for growth … Going down today, 1-0, but our response immediately after was great and those are opportunities that you get to grow and learn and get better and hopefully we kind of take this game, I think we take the past couple of games and we just keep learning, applying it to the week and using it to respond the next week. Like I said, we have a very technical team. We have a lot of really, really good players. We like to have a lot of joy on the ball. So that’s really fun to be a part of. And I think we’re just missing that final piece in the final third, which is just something that’s focus on training, focus in the moment. It’s early in the season and I think it’ll come.

Lavelle spoke with reporters after the game.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Annie Peterson