NWSL First Quarter Review


So we are about a quarter of the way through the 2018 NWSL season. There has been some great moments, some beautiful shots, and some excellent defense. Some teams surpassed expectations, while others are exactly where the world predicted they would be. We still have the majority of the season to go, but now is a great time to review exactly where all our favorite teams are at and how they have fared. So let’s get into it!

Chicago Red Stars
Chicago started their season off with a bit of a depleted roster because of injuries and international players participating in World Cup Qualifiers. The Red Stars have also played more games this season than any other team so far. But despite the roster holes and the heavy schedule the Red Stars are currently camped out near the top of the table. And good news Chicago fans—Sam Kerr is officially back from international duty, so there is a chance that you rise a spot in the table moving forward.

Houston Dash
Well, things aren’t great for the Dash. But they certainly aren’t as horrible so far as originally expected. The Dash had some important draws early in their season, and just this last week they recorded their first win. They are hanging out at the bottom of the table but they aren’t in last place. And now with the return of Kealia Ohai and Kyah Simon the Dash offense is beginning to really take form. They also just recently acquired Allysha Chapman in a trade for North Carolina. So with those added components they may be able to steal a few more points and climb a bit in the standings toward the middle of the season.

North Carolina Courage
The Courage are exactly where everyone expected them to be – in first place. They have been dominant in this first quarter of the season but there are still some things they need to work on. Specifically, converting those shots on goal into actual goals. NC creates a lot of chances and take more shots than any other team in the league, but they haven’t been able to score a lot of goals. Still, the Courage are currently undefeated and don’t look to be slowing down any time soon. And once those finishing touches come they will be even more lethal than they already are.

Orlando Pride
The Pride have done mediocre so far this season. Not too good, but not too bad either. They are camped out in the middle of the table and ended week 6 with a record of 2-2-2. But this team definitely is on the upswing of the pendulum, as their last three results of the quarter ended in two wins and a draw. Orlando had to deal with the loss of Marta and Alanna Kennedy for international duty and had a few other key minor injuries that made the first quarter of their season a bit challenging. But things are looking up for the Pride now that their roster is almost back to full form.

Portland Thorns
The Thorns are at about the exact same place as the Pride at the end of week 6. Though, most would consider their first quarter of the season underwhelming. Much was expected of the Thorns and they haven’t fully delivered yet. But with the majority of the season still ahead, they have plenty of time to find their form. Tobin Heath is only just back from a very lengthy string of injuries, but her touch on the ball seems to be coming back to her rather quickly as could be seen by her first goal of the season against Utah. Overall, the Thorns can do better, and most likely they will continuing through the season.

Seattle Reign FC
Seattle may just be the greatest surprise of the 2018 season so far. They are exciting to watch, incredibly skillful, and are giving their competitors a run for their money. Their current second place position is a bit unexpected, but the Reign are here to defy expectations this season. Even with Rapinoe out on injury, they have still found a way to win. Just look at last week’s match at Providence Park. They weren’t expected to win, but the Reign don’t live in a world where they do what is expected. It’s hard to say what could potentially slow this team down currently, but for our entertainment value let’s hope they don’t.

Sky Blue FC
The 2018 NWSL season surely has not gone Sky Blue’s way up to this point. After numerous roster changes in the off-season, a new head coach, and a on-again-off-again schedule throughout the first quarter Sky Blue has not fared well. They are still in the hunt for their first win of the season and are sitting in last place, but they have also played less games than all other teams. That makes it difficult for a team to get into a good rhythm, and well the women from Jersey are quite a bit off-beat right now. But there is still time to turn it around. They have a lot of attacking power that can be utilized, and they still have 20 matches left to go, so not all hope is lost.

Utah Royals FC
New kids on the block had a bunch of…draws. Utah’s first quarter of their inaugural season was littered with them. Some of them were hard fought, like their match against North Carolina. While others were simply poor luck, like getting a PK called for a hand ball after your best defender actually got drilled in the face. But hey, you can’t win them all. Regardless of the draws in the first quarter, Utah is starting to come together. And with the stable roster they have, matched with the coaching skills of Laura Harvey, they are definitely not a team to underestimate moving forward.

Washington Spirit
Washington is the epitome of young raw talent. They haven’t quite figured out how to harness all that talent yet, but their future-whether this season or next-looks promising. Probably the biggest impact for the Spirit in the first quarter comes from the goalkeeper, Aubrey Bledsoe. She has had some down-right filthy saves this season, and has helped to keep the Spirit competitive. How they will progress through the rest of the 2018 season is still a bit of a question mark, but they are definitely a team to keep an eye on.

So there you have it—a review of where we have been. Where we are going? Who knows. But with so much season left to be played there are sure to be some excitement, some upsets, and some surprises. 

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