Soccer Takes From Jake: NWSL Semi-Final Edition

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On Wednesday, NFL quarterback Cam Newton said something really dumb. And he rightfully got lambasted for it. Women in sports; guess what it’s fucking awesome. The things I have learned from those that cover sports as a member of the media or work for a professional team are nothing short of awesome. Respect and appreciate the work they do. By no means is this the end-all, be-all list of women in sports I am a fan of because of the work they’ve put in, but every so often the general question is asked, “Who are some women in sports that I should follow?” Well, these are some solid people to start with:

Well, these are some solid people to start with:

Susie Rants / Stephanie Yang / Rachael Caldwell / Jessica Konen / Katelyn Best / RJ Allen / Caitlin Murray / Caitlin Buckley / Alicia Rodriguez / Jamie Goldberg / Meg Linehan / Jackie Maynard / Brittany Alvarado / Jacqueline Purdy / Jennifer Gordon / Jenny Jeffries / Jonana Widner / Stefanie Loh / Ashley Scoby / Adriana Hooper / Elizabeth Wawryzniak / Katie Simons / Justyne Freud / Mina Kimes / Kate Fagan / Sandra Herrera / Kate Preusser / Brynn Baker / Katherine Oberg / Alyse LaHue / Jasmina Schweimler / Lauren Barker / Katie Nolan / Jacqui Porter / Arielle Castillo / Skyler Warrick / Kara McDermott / Emily Giambalvo / Hannah Roberts / Julie Stewart-Binks / Diana Moskovitz / Rachel Nichols / Sarah Spain / Jessica Mendoza / Jemele Hill / Aly Wagner / Kate Markgraf / Jenn Hildreth / Ariane Hingst / Rachel Bonnetta / Jackie MacMullan / Angie Mentink / Iliana Limón Romero / Alicia Rose DelGallo / Jackie Montgomery / Chloe Leadbetter / Alyssa Zajac / Allison Lee / Leigh Nieves / Ann Odong / Alanna Fairbairn / Erica Ayala / Jessica Luther / Kay Murray

Seriously the list can go on and on. The bottom line is whether they cover sports as a member of the media or work for a sports teams, these ladies do amazing work. Respect the hustle & grind they put in. Listen to what they bring to the table. Value what they do because despite what some bums might say (and there are a lot of them), women definitely belong in sports.

THE PORTLAND THORNS WILL WIN IF…
Have you been to Portland? It’s a home-field advantage unlike any other. You have to be something special to go into their house and leave with a win. The team on the field is talent plenty of people would put on a Christmas wishlist. Mark Parsons has more than proven he’s handled the transition from Washington to Portland and the bigger expectations that come with it. If the Thorns hold Orlando scoreless or at most one goal, I think it will be because of the trio of Adrianna Franch and defenders Emily Sonnett and Emily Menges – seriously, how Menges isn’t on the shortlist for Defender of the Year is absurd. And if I were a betting man, how could one not put a fiver on Christine Sinclair doing something good to send an already raucous crowd like the one Portland has into a frenzy? When everything is clicking for them on the field, their supporters provide such a home-field advantage that really it’s a natural wonder and something you have to see in person.

THE ORLANDO PRIDE WILL WIN IF…
Orlando’s work got harder for them with the injury of midfielder Camila. However, the stage is set for just the sort of thing you cannot rule out in which Marta does something that has everyone going, “Yep, that is why she is the Greatest Of All Time.” Her and Alex Morgan turned it on and became the dynamic duo everyone hoped they would when they needed to be in the regular season and that’s why they’re in the playoffs. The magic of the duo could just rise above the intimidating atmosphere inside Providence Park.

THE NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE WILL WIN IF…
They stay the course and stick with what brought them to the dance. It’s not dumb luck that the Courage basically lived at the top of the table. This is as complete a team you’re going to find in the world. Paul Riley’s squad has everything you want in a soccer team. Lockdown defense, amazing conductors in the midfield, and forwards who know how to find the back of the net. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and while Chicago had their number in the regular season meetings, home field advantage counts for something major in the NWSL and the Courage sure play at home like they’ve been there for years.

THE CHICAGO RED STARS WILL WIN IF…
They can absorb North Carolina’s runs but stop them in the final third. Whether it’s their back four and Alyssa Naeher locking down and direct blocking shots or putting enough of a touch to direct the ball to go wide of the goal. If they can translate this into a counter-attack with an exclamation point of a Christen Press touch that we know she can do, even a formidable defense like North Carolina’s can be broken. They had North Carolina’s number in the regular season meetings, so Rory Dames and gang know how to do it against North Carolina.

THAT SAID, MY PREDICTIONS ARE…
Portland Thorns OVER Orlando Pride
HOWEVER… IT WILL TAKE GOING TO PENALTIES!

North Carolina Courage OVER Chicago Red Stars.
This one though will be decided in regulation.

And there you have it, Portland and North Carolina are Orlando-bound for the 2017 NWSL Championship.


Here is your music video break.

Song: “Sam’s Town” | Artist: The Killers