NWSL returns for its final weekend of the regular season. As well, all the international players return from international duties. Euro Championship qualifiers, 2020 Olympic qualifiers and friendlies were played in the last week and a half. A total of 19 NWSL internationals competed in matches over the break.
2021 Euro Qualifiers
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Didi Haračić started in goal for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s two Euro qualifying matches. Bosnia and Herzegovina were shutout 2-0 by Denmark then Italy. The results dropped the eastern European nation down to third in Group B, six points behind Denmark and Italy. Haračić and company will look to rebound in November when they travel to Israel.
Ana Crnogorčević and Switzerland held on to the top spot in Group H by defeating Lithuania 3-0 and Croatia 2-0. The Portland Thorns FC forward opened the scoring on a penalty kick goal in the 35th minute against Lithuania match. Crnogorčević started the scoring again against Croatia with a 9th minute header from a corner. Switzerland will get back into Euro qualifying in November against Romania.
Iceland started the week off with a friendly against France. Traveling to France, Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir (Utah Royals FC) got a start in the midfield then was subbed out for Dagny Brynjarsdóttir (Portland Thorns FC) in the 72nd minute. Ultimately, Iceland were shutout by a 4-0 scoreline. Next on the schedule, Iceland traveled to Latvia to continue their Euro qualifiers in Group F. Both Jónsdóttir and Brynjarsdóttir got the start. Brynjarsdóttir scored Iceland’s second goal in the 29th minute while Jónsdóttir registered two assists in a 6-0 blowout. Currently Sweden hold the top spot in the group on goal differential as they hold the same amount of points as Iceland.
Republic of Ireland
North Carolina Courage midfielder Denise O’Sullivan played a full 90 in Ireland’s only qualifying match against Ukraine. O’Sullivan nearly scored the go ahead goal in the 53rd minute but was credited as an own goal. Nevertheless, O’Sullivan and Ireland edged Ukraine 3-2 and held on to second spot in Group I. Germany sit atop the group with 12 points with Ireland trailing by six points with two games at hand.
2020 Olympic Qualifying
Raquel Rodriguez was called into Costa Rica Olympic qualifiers against Nicaragua and El Salvador. The Sky Blue FC midfielder played 90 minutes in a 2-0 win against Nicaragua. Rodriguez’s first half brace against El Salvador was enough to put Costa Rica into the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.
Washington Spirit forward helped Jamaica get into the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship as well. Williams went on a scoring spree in Group B of the Carribean region, scoring a total of eight goals in four matches. Her best performance came in Jamaica's first match against Cuba, scoring four goals in a full 90 minutes.
Africa CAF - Cameroon
Sky Blue FC defender Estelle Johnson helped Cameroon get to the third round of Africa’s qualifying tournament. Cameroon held off Congo DR 3-2 on aggregate in a two-legged tie. Ivory Coast now await Cameroon in round four/semi-final. One African team will directly qualify for the Olympics while runner-up will face Chile in a two-legged playoff.
England and Brazil
On October 5, Brazil traveled to Middlesbrough, England to hand England their fourth defeat in five matches. North Carolina Courage midfielder Debinha scored a brace to lead Brazil in a 2-1 win. Orlando Pride superstar Marta only played the first half earning a yellow card in the 35th minute. On the England side, Reign FC forward, Jodie Taylor started and substituted out in the 74th minute. Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly came on at the 58th minute and collected a yellow card in the 65th minute.
England traveled to Setúbal, Portugal for a 1-0 friendly win against Portugal on October 8. Daly would get the start this time, substituted out in the 64th minute. Taylor subbed into the match at the 64th minute for her 50th appearance for England.
After the victory in England, Brazil made their way to Poland for a second friendly. Marta played the full 90 minutes while Debinha came on after halftime. Debinha scored Brazil’s third and final goal in the 78th minute. The North Carolina Courage midfielder has three goals in two matches. The 3-1 win was former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage second win in her first two matches at the helm for Brazil.
Portland Thorns FC captain Christine Sinclair and Canada traveled to Japan for an October 6 friendly. Stephanie Labbé (North Carolina Courage), Shelina Zadorski (Orlando Pride), Rebecca Quinn (Reign FC), Desiree Scott (Utah Royals FC) and Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash) were among the NWSL starters for Canada. Lindsey Agnew (Houston Dash) came on in the 73rd minute. Canada would end up losing by a 4-0 scoreline. This was Canada’s third loss in three matches going back to 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup group play against the Netherlands.