Chicago Red Stars v. Orlando Pride
Wednesday May 2 7:30PM ET
I love when the games aren’t all clustered in a narrow block, but it’s a pain to try to turn out a column when injury reports and player notes are trickling in. So fortunately we start with a game featuring a ton of marquee stars that even casual fans know about and are anxiously awaiting news. So I’ll just make stuff up. Just kidding. There’s enough of that going on in the non-sports news.
McCaffrey and Ertz both have thier injury woes continue, which is sad. Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris are both maybes for Orlando, but Haley Kopmeyer is more than solid if Harris can’t go and Leroux/Marta/Edmonds are a solid group.
Portland Thorns v. Seattle Reign FC
Saturday May 5 3:30PM ET (Lifetime Game of the Week)
Okay, I’m done making up things, even if there’s not much to report this far out. Portland has talent and depth that belies their record, so it’s always a safe bet that Horan/Sinclair/Purce will put chances together. Britt Eckerstrom should get the start again and has had some good saves and some bad gaffes. Michele Betos will face her former team for the first time and will probably get a lot of work. Seattle’s offense has been pretty solely Rapinoe-based but a Long score last week and a slight decapitation for Jodie Taylor might help them build going forward. Steph Catley returning to help shore up the defense will also lend some flex to their forward press.
Sky Blue (Association) Football Club of the State of New Jersey, Inc., Co, LTD v. Houston Dash
Saturday May 5, 7:30PM ET
One of these teams should walk away with a first win. In theory, that should be Sky Blue, who has actual offensive players, a passable defense and an up-and-coming international GK. Once they hit the field? Who knows. Houston’s Kealia Ohai should be returning to form and the young Hanson/Keever midfield has potential to keep the ball moving to their star or Nichelle Prince. Kyah Simon’s return will also provide depth up front. The backline that looked solid against Orlando was torched against North Carolina, so Jeanine Van Wyk and crew are probably hoping to face the disorganized rabble version of SBFC. Sky Blue still has Carli Lloyd, Raquel Rodriguez, Janine Beckie, Shea Groom…basically, in any other year, what would look like the starting forward lineup for an all-star game and they’ve scored 1 entire goal in three games.
Utah Royals FC v. Washington Spirit
Saturday May 5, 9:00 PM ET
Remember Ashley Hatch? 1 goal, 1 assist, 12 shots in five games so far. After her rookie season, I thought she might be a feature forward in a Pugh/Sullivan/Lavelle service-fest. With the lack of any other information to back it up, I’ll declare this her break out game. Utah’s Becky Sauerbrunn and Rachel Corsie have been carrying the team to draws all season and eventually there will be an error. Last week’s goal by Portland’s Tobin Heath, largely unguarded, hints at slight flaws that can be worked in the absence of a scoring punch. Washington has much greater potential on offense than defense, but Utah hasn’t been putting enough talent forward to require anything beyond capable marking from a veteran cast.
North Carolina Courage v. Chicago Red Stars
Sunday May 6, 3:00PM ET
Chicago must be so happy to have a second game this week against a resting and rehabbing North Carolina team. If Chicago can get their offense together against an Orlando team they should beat, enough may carry over to give some pushback against the North Carolina arsenal. Huerta and Mautz have scored legitimate goals this season and Kerr is basically the most super-powered Australian outside a Marvel movie. North Carolina isn’t unstoppable or flawless, but they certainly have more top-flight depth at each area than the competition so far this season. Sam Mewis provides a field general presence and scoring threat behind two other giants in Jessica McDonald and Lynn Williams and the Abby Erceg/Abby Dahlkemper central duo. It’s hard to do more than look at roster comparison this far out, but the edge goes to North Carolina unless they all get food poisoning from the truffles fed to them by the pool while the rest of the league grinds it out leading into Sunday.