I’m starting to think Australians aren’t ever coming back.
Utah Royals vs. Chicago Red Stars – 4/14 @ 3:30pm ET
The Lifetime Game of the Week Sandwiched Between Less Appealing Movies will feature perennial contender FCKC-Plus-O’Hara vs No-Really-We’re-Contenders-This-Time-Chicago.
Perhaps no game would benefit more from the return of Australians than this one, as Utah looks forward to improving markedly with the addition of Katrina Gorry. Chicago, meanwhile, is missing former savior of New Jersey Sam Kerr, too, I guess, if you’re into that sort of thing. ARod, Kelley O’Hara, Casey Short, and Julie Ertz, if they are still out, will have a majority of the payroll and the star power as spectators, but both teams have had unexpected scoring.
Chicago’s Sofia Huerta leads the league in assists (2) and Alyssa Mautz is tied for the league lead in goals (2).
Washington Spirit vs. NC Courage – 4/14 @ 7pm ET
North Carolina: 2-0-0
Samantha Mewis and Rose Lavelle are still on the injury report, but if any team can survive a marquee player’s absence, it’s the Courage.
Washington’s Ashley Hatch is only one of two players in the league with a goal and an assist, and Washington is the only team with three different goal scorers. The young and balanced attack may balance a less notable defense, which has keeper Aubrey Bledsoe leading the league in saves with 14 (six more than the next.) North Carolina has two 1-0 wins but really should be putting more on frame from towers of power McDonald and Williams. This could be an offensive shootout that puts players from both teams ahead on the league leaders list, or Bledsoe and Sabrina D’Angelo could set saves records.
Sky Blue FC vs. Seattle Reign – 4/15 @ 5pm ET
Sky Blue: 0-1-0
Megan Rapinoe leads the league in shots at 11, with the rest of the Reign adding eight more. Are they relying too much on her or is she a powerhouse that’s making a case for MVP again this year? Sky Blue only appears on the League Leaders list for yellow cards, but their young cast has to click and produce at some point, right? Keeper Michelle Betos has looked to be in standard form in her return to the NWSL, while Kailen Sheridan remains in the mix as one of Canada’s best young players.
Portland Thorns vs. Orlando Pride – 4/15 @ 6pm ET
I have tickets to the Orlando game next week, so naturally, this game will be the one where everyone gets hurt and the league contracts the team. Ashlyn Harris and the defense have fueled stan attention (that puppy, though) and looked solid, but the Alex Morgan/Marta/Sydney Leroux powerhouse Cerberus of scoring has yet to melt other teams (and Marta is still on international duty, anyway). Portland, in front of future Best XI keeper Adrianna Franch, is still a massive collection of talent, with ageless Christine Sinclair tied for the league lead in goals—yet this roster needs more than Sinclair and Horan scoring.