Are the North Carolina Courage Bad for Women’s Soccer?

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No, they aren’t.

The North Carolina Courage are not “killing the NWSL” nor are they “turning the NWSL into the French women’s league”. For some reason people ask because when they see a women’s team doing better than anyone else in their league or conference or sport, it’s the first question that apparently springs to their minds.

But I ask you, how could a team made up of solid players who work well together under a coach who believes in his team with the fervent veracity of a game show host mixed with a motivational speaker be bad for a league or the sport overall?

In a league where the last place team has two points in eleven matches, the second to last place team has ten points in fourteen matches, somehow it is the top (junkyard) dog that is being asked “why can’t you just suck a little bit more so the other teams aren’t blown away quite so much”.

Right now the North Carolina Courage are dominating the league. 33 points in 14 matches is a record that will grab people’s attention even if they know nothing about the league or even soccer. Dropping just nine points over 14 games is something the Courage should be lauded for, not chided as someone breaking the league or the sport.

And while the Courage are dominating the league, teams two through six are all within five points of each other. Orlando with 22 points; Seattle, Portland and Chicago with 19 points; and Utah with 17 points are all still very much alive as the season hits the other side of halfway. This is the best time of the season. The teams have made the majority of their trades, players are in peak form and matches are starting to really become important when tiebreakers are so critical. But with 33 points the Courage draw the eye of the casual fan – or those looking for a reason to deride the league – as a problem for the rest of the league.

And if the North Carolina Courage had 33 points while the rest of the league drew each other to keep everyone else’s points low, or the Courage blew every team out 7-0 while playing like the Harlem Globetrotters of the NWSL, then yes, the league would have a problem. But the league playoff race is still very much competitive and the Courage are more likely to beat you 1-0 than 7-0. They are a team that wears you down and can beat you in any way that you give them the opening to do. They are not a super team bought and paid for the way some European teams are. They aren’t even the team with the most international players on the roster.

The NWSL has a lot of great stories in it. Using your mental energy to breakdown why Sky Blue or Washington have been outliers toward the negative this year is a better use of your time. Looking at the way players like Morgan or Press can change the league in mega-trades that effect half the league all at once is a better use of your time. Pondering the players Jill Ellis would never call up but should is even a better use of your time.

But thinking to yourself that a team who have drafted well, invested in players that other teams benched, while relying on experienced vets who are able to preform for a coach who believes every single player on his roster could be a superstar for their national team if they just got a shot is a really bad use of your time. 

Image courtesy of Corri Goates