The return of Melbourne City and Westfield Matildas forward Kyah Simon was a big silver lining to emerge from an action-packed morning of National Women’s Soccer League.
Simon, 27, has been sidelined with an ankle injury since January but returned to the pitch and made an instant impact for Houston Dash in their meeting with NWSL powerhouse North Carolina Courage.
Playing in her first match since City’s 3-0 win over Canberra United on December 22, 2018, Simon joined international teammate Clare Polkinghorne on the pitch in the 77th minute and provided the assist for Rachel Daly’s stunning late consolation goal.
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The Dash endured an otherwise difficult evening against the reigning NWSL double-winners, who scored four times via Lynn Williams, Crystal Dunn, Debora Cristiane de Oliveira and Leah Pruitt.
It is the first defeat of the campaign for Simon and Polkinghorne, and leaves Houston fifth on the ladder after three matches played.
Kerr's Chicago lift off against Reign
Sam Kerr’s absence from the score sheet mattered little in Chicago Red Stars’ 3-0 victory over Reign FC, as the Westfield Matildas captain could still claim bragging rights over her international teammates Lydia Williams and Elise Kellond-Knight.
Reign goalkeeper Williams was handed her first start of the NWSL campaign and although beaten by two expert chipped finishes from Casey Short and Yuki Nagasato, the 30-year-old also pulled out two impressive saves.
Williams thwarted a long burst and shot from Kerr in the first half, while also pulling off a top-class reaction-stop to tip Kylie Naughton’s header around the post before Brooke Elby’s third for the Red Stars.
Kellond-Knight played 21 minutes as a second-half substitute for Beverly Yanez.
Foord and Heath combine again in four-goal thriller
The clinical combination of Westfield Matildas star Caitlin Foord and USA international Tobin Heath bore fruit again as Portland Thorns came from behind to draw 2-2 with Sky Blue FC.
A quickfire pair from Carli Lloyd had Portland on the ropes in the opening exchanges, but the Thorns – who had Ellie Carpenter play the full 90 minutes at right back – wiped the deficit in the space of two first-half minutes.
After Emily Sonnett had got Portland on the board, Heath cleverly restored parity with a back heel when Foord’s cross from the right was not dealt with by the Sky Blue defence.
Lloyd was denied her hat-trick by the foot of the post and Foord’s snapshot from a late corner was blocked as both sides settled for a share of the spoils.