After a bright start to the year, with four correct and one incorrect picks on games, last week was a bit less impressive and I only got two right. The unpredictability of the games makes for enjoyable viewing, at least for half of the people watching each match.
Seattle, after barely eeking out a draw against Sky Blue in week one, slaughtered the visiting Houston Dash with a 5-1 scoreline. All the dynamic play from Ohai, Daly and O'Sullivan from their opening win v Chicago was gone, and the Reign had their way with rookie GK Jane Campbell.
Elsewhere, an injury-plagued Washington Spirit side managed a draw at Orlando, Chicago recovered to hold home court against FC Kansas City 1-0, Portland couldn't find a goal in North Carolina as they fell 1-0 to the Courage, and the Boston Breakers handled the Sky Blue side that had drawn at Seattle a week earlier to start their own home campaign with a 1-0 win.
Basically, any team can win any given game. Over the course of the full 24 games of the season, the best teams will find consistency and pull away from the pack. But this week has some very interesting matchups that will challenge that consistency. Here is what I expect to see on Saturday and Sunday.
Oh, almost forgot: If you've had any issues using the Go90 app to watch games, you can try watching instead on the Go90 website.
Chicago Red Stars at Portland Thorns
Saturday at 4PM on Lifetime TV
Portland returns home to host their second Lifetime TV broadcast. They'll be better than they were last week, and I don't expect the Red Stars to be able to keep up. Unless, that is, their somewhat unpredictable GK Adrianna Franch strays too far from her line. Not sensing a blowout here, but Portland wins.
Portland Thorns 2-1 Chicago Red Stars
Orlando Pride at North Carolina Courage
Saturday at 4PM on Go90 App & Website
Marta was introduced last week as a substitute in a match her new Pride side were winning, but Washington quickly equalized and despite her best efforts, she wasn't able to manufacture a winner. With a bit of time on the training pitch, I'd expect to see much better results connecting runs, timing passes and delivering finishes. It's possible that a week is enough time for this legend to put it all together.
The Courage are just a solid squad throughout their depth, and have a variety of ways to find goals. Stack up against the speedy forwards? The mids will score. Press the mids and you're going to get beat on the flanks. It's a tough team to break down, but Marta is the type of player who can adjust and unlock a team like this. Still, I think the Courage's attack is due for a statement game.
North Carolina Courage 2-1 Orlando Pride
Seattle Reign at Boston Breakers
Saturday at 7PM on Go90 App & Website
After only managing a 1-1 draw against SkyBlue at home in week one, the Reign put on a clinic against the visiting Houston Dash last weekend. Boston lost away at FCKC, but rebounded on Sunday to win their home opener vs Sky Blue 1-0. Both teams are relatively healthy, and the night game gives the Reign some measure of jet-lag relief.
There are going to be many, many shots in this game, but I think Abby Smith does much better than did Jane Campbell last week. Between Seattle's pipes, Haley Kopmeyer will also block most of what comes to her, as she reliably does.
I'm not sure how, but I think Boston finds a way to grab a winner in this one. Sky Blue couldn't adjust to Boston's press last week, and though Fishlock & company will find a way to pass out of traffic, I think an early goal will help Boston believe they can win.
Boston Breakers 2-1 Seattle Reign
Houston Dash at Washington Spirit
Saturday at 7PM on Go90 App & Website
So many ACL tears, so little time. Washington has been savaged by injuries this season, and this week is only worse, with Kristie Mewis, Cheyna Williams and Katie Stengel all OUT with various knocks. It's hard to see how they'll survive against a Dash team that will be eager to prove that their disastrous trip to Seattle was an anomaly.
Houston Dash 4-1 Washington Spirit
FC Kansas City at Sky Blue FC
Sunday at 6PM on Go90 App & Website
Sky Blue will be without Sam Kerr, who flew this week to Australia to collect a well-deserved W-League award. Captain America Christie Pearce (Rampone, remember) is in the concussion protocol and will miss this game. Also, Leah Galton is nursing a sprained left ankle that has her listed as questionable.
The visitors are a tad healthier, although Shea Groom is out with a broken rib. Ouch. Still, FCKC looks healthier, and I think they'll take advantage of Pearce's absence and grab the three points.
FC Kansas City 3-1 Sky Blue FC