Aussies Abroad: Westfield Matildas help Orlando Pride clinch first clean sheet of the season

Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond's Orlando Pride rose off the bottom of the National Women's Soccer League with a 1-0 win against Sky Blue FC.

With Kennedy starting in midfield, Pride jumped into a 23rd-minute lead when rookie Marisa Viggiano struck her first professional goal — and what a spectacular goal it was.

Van Egmond came off the bench to replace the goalscorer Viggiano on 70 minutes as Pride looked to lock down back-to-back home wins.

And, to the delight of the 9,415 at Exploria Stadium, Orlando secured their first shut out of the season to overtake their New Jersey-based opposition at the foot of the NWSL.

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Kellond-Knight debuts in Spirit defeat 

Elise Kellond-Knight played her first minutes in Washington Spirit colours during their 2-1 home defeat against Houston Dash.

Westfield Matilda Amy Harrison started at left-back for Spirit as the opening 45 minutes ended 0-0 and a lightning delay meant the second half did not start until 10.11pm local time.

The match at Maryland SoccerPlex came to life when Jordan DiBiasi headed the DC side ahead on 52 minutes, but Kristie Mewis hit back for Dash four minutes later.

Kellond-Knight made her first Spirit appearance since her mid-season trade from Reign FC when she was introduced in place of Harrison on 68 minutes, and Kyah Simon was brought on for Dash.

Amber Brooks flipped the game in Houston's favour, making it 2-1 on 72 minutes, and Washington sent on Chloe Logarzo with 11 minutes remaining in an attempt to salvage a draw.

Mallory Pugh missed a golden chance to pull Spirit level but Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell saved her stoppage-time penalty, as seventh-placed Houston held on the close the gap on the top four to two points and Washington missed the chance to leap up to third. 

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Westfield Matildas trio denied massive win

A last-minute strike from Canberra United defender Rachel Corsie denied Portland Thorns a huge victory against Utah Royals.

Westfield Matildas Hayley Raso and Ellie Carpenter started for Portland, who would have gone three points clear at the top of the NWSL ladder with a win at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Canada striker Christine Sinclair got Thorns off to the best possible start on nine minutes, but United States FIFA Women’s World Cup™ winner Christen Press levelled for the hosts two minutes before half-time.

As the away side looked to get a foothold in the game, Caitlin Foord came on to replace Carpenter on 63 minutes after the right-back picked up a knock.

Utah had controlled 55% of possession and led the shot count 13-5 but Portland went back in front on 87 minutes when another FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hero, Becky Sauerbrunn, put into her own net. 

Then Scotland’s captain Corsie, who starred in the Westfield W-League 2018/19 season, came to the Royals' rescue to slam in a last-minute equaliser and ensure the points were shared.

North Carolina Courage can regain the NWSL lead with a victory over Sam Kerr's Chicago Red Stars on Monday morning AEST.