NWSL heads into Women's World Cup break with surprise leader

The Washington Spirit, which finished the 2018 season with a 14-game winless streak and just four goals scored over that stretch, is the surprise leader as the NWSL heads into its one-week break for the start of the Women's World Cup.

NWSL Standings:
16 Washington (5-1-1)
14 Portland (4-1-2)
12 Utah (4-2-1)
12 NC Courage (3-2-3)
12 Chicago (3-3-1)
11 Houston (3-2-2)
10 Reign FC (2-1-4)
2 Sky Blue FC (0-5-2)
1 Orlando City (0-7-1)

The Spirit won its fourth game in a row in Saturday when it beat Utah, 2-0, before a season-high 4,575 fans at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Ashley Hatch scored in her third straight game, and rookie Dorian Bailey added an insurance goal.

A 3-0 win over second-place Portland on May 18 vaulted the Spirit into the league lead with back-to-back wins for the first time since 2016. Washington leads the Thorns, 3-0 winners over the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday before 19,461 fans in their first home game of the season, by two points.

Six teams head into the break with winning records, the Red Stars are now .500, while Sky Blue FC and Orlando are winless.

Hatch was one of four Spirit players named to the NWSL Team of the Month for May, along with goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, defender Sam Staab and midfielder Jordan DiBiasi. None was among the five Washington players off to France for the World Cup.

The World Cup break will be a short reprieve for the NWSL. It will play over the final four weekends of the tournament. In all, 59 players are missing, along with at least two others who scratches because of injuries. Four teams -- including defending champion North Carolina -- are missing eight players each.

NWSL Players at the Women's World Cup:
Portland (9). Andressinha (Brazil), Ellie Carpenter (Australia), Caitlin Foord (Australia), Adrianna Franch (USA), Tobin Heath (USA), Lindsey Horan (USA), Hayley Raso (Australia), Christine Sinclair (Canada), Emily Sonnett (USA).
NC Courage (8). Andressinha (Brazil), Abby Dahlkemper (USA), Debinha (Brazil), Crystal Dunn (USA), Abby Erceg (New Zealand), Stephanie Labbe (Canada), Jessica McDonald (USA), Samantha Mewis (USA).
Orlando (8). Camila (Brazil), Ashlyn Harris (USA), Alanna Kennedy (Australia), Ali Krieger (USA), Marta (Brazil), Alex Morgan (USA), Emily van Egmond (Australia), Shelina Zadorsky (Canada).
Reign FC (8). Steph Catley (Australia), Celia Jimenez (Spain), Elise Kellond-Knight (Australia), Allie Long (USA), Megan Rapinoe (USA), Jodie Taylor (England), Rumi Utsugi (Japan) Lydia Williams (Australia).
Houston (7). Lindsey Agnew (Canada), Alysha Chapman (Canada), Rachel Daly (England), Kayla McCoy (Jamaica), Clare Polkinghorne (Australia), Nichelle Prince (Canada), Sophie Schmidt (Canada).
Utah (6). Katie Bowen (New Zealand), Rachel Corsie (Scotland), Kelley O’Hara (USA), Christen Press (USA), Becky Sauerbrunn (USA), Desire Scott (Canada).
Chicago (5). Morgan Brian (USA), Tierna Davidson (USA), Julie Ertz (USA), Sam Kerr (Australia), Alyssa Naeher (USA).
Washington (5). Amy Harrison (Australia), Rose Lavelle (USA), Chloe Logarzo (Australia), Cheyna Matthews (Jamaica), Mallory Pugh (USA).
Sky Blue FC (3). Estelle Johnson (Cameroon), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Kailen Sheridan (Canada).
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