The 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup is officially underway as all 12 clubs kicked off opening weekend. Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC competed in their first ever NWSL competition as the California expansion sides squared off at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, California. Fans can watch all Challenge Cup matches live and on demand on Paramount+.
Our power rankings have seen some huge moves after wins from North Carolina and Chicago, and a scoreless draw between Orlando Pride and 2021 NWSL Champions Washington Spirit.
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Take a look at where things stand after opening weekend:
North Carolina Courage
The Courage charged up the power rankings after an impressive 2-0 win over Gotham FC. A retooled roster for the Courage featured typical outside backs Taylor Smith and Jealene Daniels pushed higher as forwards and UNC breakout midfielder Brianna Pinto scored the game winning goal against her former side.
Chicago Red Stars
After going a large portion of preseason without a head coach, the Red Stars picked up their first win in 2022 with a 3-1 win over Houston. The backline evolved from a three back to a five back at times and allowed Chicago to retain possession and earn more attempts on target as Mal Pugh recorded a brace in the victory.
Head coach Laura Harvey's decision to move Sofia Huerta to outside back last season is still paying dividends this year as Huerta recorded a stunning goal in the opening 1-1 draw against Portland, as Quinn provided a 90 minute clinic at holding mid for the team cutting off the opposition and picking out lanes in the attack.
Portland Thorns FC
The 2021 Challenge Cup winners came from behind with an equalizer thanks to the duo of 21 year old Sophia Smith and 38 year old Christine Sinclair. Smith's ability to draw defenders collapsed Reign's back line and left to a wide open Sinclair in space to capitalize on a rebound.
Angel City FC
The home side earned a 1-1 draw in the first ever California clash against San Diego. Strong individual performances from forward Christen Press, goalkeeper Didi Haracic, and midfielder Savannah McCaskill, who recorded the first franchise goal, led the new team
San Diego Wave FC
The Wave were active in the final third recording 23 crosses, but struggled to finish their chances. The team finally picked up a historic franchise goal off a late game set piece with defender Kaliegh Riehl putting it home.
Kansas City Current
The club welcomed Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams onto the roster and the team were wildly active with shots (24) and crosses (26) but had some questionable shot selections in the first half. The Current equalized late in the game after Williams connected with Addie McCain in the 78th minute. With the xG total at 2.44 to 0.52 the Current will be a little salty they couldn't manage all three points.
Racing Louisville FC
They went up early in the first half with a goal in the 20th minute as newly acquired Jess McDonald connected with CeCe Kizer for the opening goal. But the side was out matched in nearly all game statistics, except fouls where they committed 12 to K.C.'s 7. Will be happy they hung on for a point.
The 2021 NWSL Champions had no answers on offense in a physical game against Orlando Pride. Ashley Hatch, Ashley Sanchez, Trinity Rodman, and Tara McKeown combined for four shots on goal in the scoreless draw.
New Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell and her squad picked up a point in a scoreless draw against the Spirit. A choppy first game with 28 fouls combined, the Pride's physical play can't be a substitute for tactics that lead to a win.
One of two teams that failed to pick up a result over opening weekend, the Dash struggled in the midfield relying on flank play with their wingers and outside backs involved. A strong opening 19 minutes and active final 15 minutes wasn't enough to keep Chicago from three goals in the middle hour and coasting to victory.
NJ/NY Gotham FC
The only team to both lose and fail to record a goal, Gotham struggled to ever play their way into the game and at times looked at loss for ideas on how to get involved. Missing pieces like Kristie Mewis, Ifeoma Onumonu, and Allie Long were glaring holes for a team that only recorded four shots and had less than 43% possession.