Soccer Takes From Jake: NWSL Championship Edition

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Hey did anything chaotic happen in the soccer world this week?

So here we are. The 2017 NWSL season is down to one game.

I wish I could say I am writing this either at an airport terminal or in a hotel in Orlando but I did the responsible thing and bought a new computer instead of making the trip. Trust me, it’s a really neat computer. Though I do wish I was in Orlando with the other familiar NWSL/WoSo media people including some that write for this site. Alas, there’s always next year’s NWSL Championship, provided it’s not going to be at some outlandish destination like the moon.

We know how the teams got to Orlando to be playing for the league’s top prize. Portland had their way with the Orlando Pride to the tune of 4-1. To think that Portland got three goals on basically Orlando committing the cardinal sin of ball-watching is just, yowza. Not the way head coach Tom Sermanni wanted to celebrate that (well-deserved) contract extension. I predicted Portland would edge out Orlando in an anxiety-inducing affair that would go to penalties but instead, we got a decisive result in regulation. In the end, Portland was the better team in all three areas of the field, with the defense shining the brightest.

As for North Carolina, I thought their matchup against the Chicago Red Stars would be done in regulation time. Instead, we got something that definitely won’t be making any highlight reels anytime soon. Both sides were sluggish and way too timid to try anything, which is understandable given it’s a one-game, end-all, be-all format. That said, it was a slog in every sense of the word and we were nearly dreading extra time and possibly penalties until North Carolina’s Denise O’Sullivan claimed the match winner in the 89th minute.

And so here we are, heading into the championship with this year’s #1 and #2 teams, North Carolina versus Portland. And it’s going to be a good one. Both teams have defenses that feature a trio who absolutely do not blink under pressure. Both teams have conductors in the midfield that maybe a certain men’s senior team consider taking lessons from, learning what a midfield looks like and what it is supposed to do. Both teams have opportunistic forwards that can light up the net. This is an NWSL Championship that will feature two complete teams and while the playoff structure in any sport is a Random Luck Generator cranked up to eleven, this is the sort of showcase you want for your showcase match for the top prize.

In the end, what I think will happen is…

Portland Thorns FC OVER North Carolina Courage 2-1 to capture their second NWSL Championship.

And Portland will win because of Lindsey Horan. I think she will be the player on the field Saturday night that will have that moment of magic that seals the win for Portland. Will it be the match-winning, title-clinching goal, a goal-line clearance, or a soul-eviscerating, dispossession tackle? I don’t know, but from where I’m sitting, what I’ve seen from the teams, and what I think can happen, I think Horan shines just a little brighter than a field full of stars on NWSL Championship Saturday.


Here is your last music video break of the season. It’s been real everyone.

Song: Mistadobalina | Artist: Del The Funkee Homosapien

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