Houston Dash v North Carolina Courage
3:30 PM EST
In the Lifetime Game of the Week, Houston GK Jane Campbell faces off against the league’s most potent offense, an eight-headed monster of variable scoring options (McCall Zerboni, Crystal Dunn and Jessica McDonald all have two goals, while Debhina, Lynn Williams and last week’s GOTW Merritt Mathias all have 1.) Houston hasn’t scored since their first game of the season, but will have former Golden Boot Kealia Ohai back for regular duty, who should help Nichelle Prince spread the defense’s attention.
Washington Spirit v Chicago Red Stars
7:00 PM EST
Washington GK Aubrey Bledsoe has twice as many saves as the #2 on the list. She’s been having a good year, but probably would appreciate either some defensive help or the team’s weighty roster of offensive stars to begin producing. Mallory Pugh and Francesca Ordega both have marked two goals for the Spirit, but the team hasn’t played to potential. Chicago’s Sofia Huerta is the current POTW and, in the ongoing absence of Julie Ertz, Casey Short, and Stephanie McCaffrey (at least from regular duty) there may be a slight bump when last year’s MVP Samantha Kerr, fresh from international duty, makes her Chicago debut.
Orlando Pride v Seattle Reign FC
7:30 PM EST
Orlando earned their first win of the season last week against an underpowered Dash. This week they host playoff contender Seattle. Orlando, even counting Kerr in Chicago, may get the most bump from returning internationals to fill in an unproductive midfield. Sydney Leroux has been running wild as a holding striker, playing a two-way game that often gets her pulled too far out. Seattle’s Jess Fishlock is always dangerous, and with Megan Rapinoe out, they’ll need her to be at the top of her game to put pressure on a physical Orlando defense. Their pace could be the doom of Orlando in this one.
Utah Royals FC v Portland Thorns FC
9:00 PM EST
Utah’s draw-heavy record shows what a defense alone will get you in today’s NWSL. They’ve lacked any counter to the inevitable goal every team will give up on occasion, especially in the year of post-Breakers loaded rosters. Portland looks like the most well-rounded team again this year, with solid players everywhere on the field and Christine Sinclair leading the league in goals (4). They will give up goals, but they’ll also score them. Coach Laura Harvey said Utah GK Abby Smith is her #1, but Smith might be willing to share with Nicole Barnhart as this one winds along. Portland should have the rest of their internationals back. Utah will once again rely on the passing game trying to spring a speedy forward and eventually Becky Saurebrunn will carry the ball ¾ of the field and make us wonder why she doesn’t try that more, but it’s an uphill battle for Utah unless someone can score.