NWSL Week 5 Preview & Picks

Week four was an odd one. All three matches on Saturday saw own goals scored, though only two of the beneficiaries were able to turn the gift into three points. Sunday saw Boston pick up their first home loss of the young season to the undefeated NC Courage, while Orlando remained winless and could only collect a single point on their trip to Kansas City.

As a consequence, the BOLD (Bad) Predictions were fully parenthetical last weekend.

Week 1: 4 correct, 1 very wrong
Week 2: 2 correct, 3 very wrong
Week 3: 4 correct, 1 very wrong
Week 4: 0 correct, 5 terribly wrong

So, we're 10 correct and 10 wrong for the season. Flip a coin, it's time for week 5.

NEW: Click the picture at game time and you'll be magically transported directly to the livestream, either on Lifetime or Go90. Sweet.

Sky Blue FC at Houston Dash

Saturday at 4PM on Lifetime TV

Rachel Daly should have cause to salute on Saturday afternoon.

Rachel Daly should have cause to salute on Saturday afternoon.

The Dash have looked OK this season if you forget about the ugly trip to Seattle. They've split a home and away series with the Red Stars and barely squeaked by the (at the time) dismal Washington Spirit. Sky Blue just lost to that same Spirit side, although absent an own goal, it would have been a 3-3 draw. The trip to Houston might take something out of the visitors, but Houston has to show their home fans they're for real. With a national TV audience, I think Ohai and Daly are able to pull the strings and get a win.

Houston Dash 3-1 Sky Blue FC

Washington Spirit at Seattle Reign

Saturday at 4PM on Go90 App or Website

(Fish)LOCK of the week, right here. Maybe.

(Fish)LOCK of the week, right here. Maybe.

Prior to the return of Franny Ordega from injury, Washington had only scored one goal all season. Then, last week, with a little help from a Sky Blue own goal, they notched four. Those goals came against a very young Sky Blue back line that was also missing Christie Pearce. So, it will remain to be seen if Ordega can break through Seattle's defense in the same way. 

One obstacle the Spirit won't have to face is the physical defending of Merritt Mathias, who seems to have taken a "if I don't have long hair, neither can you" approach to her play over the past two weeks. Mathias was suspended by the league on Thursday for three matches and fined an undisclosed sum for what the disciplinary committee termed "violent conduct." Mathias has been very good for Seattle, but the league simply has no choice when one's repeated offenses are GIF-worthy.

I'd like to think Washington can put together another win, but, no. I think Seattle holds court at home, with Jess Fishlock making sure she only scores for her own side this week. 

Seattle Reign 2-1 Washington Spirit

Portland Thorns at FC Kansas City

Saturday at 4PM on Go90 App or Website

You'd never guess, but Thorns have never won in KC

You'd never guess, but Thorns have never won in KC

The surprising stat of the week comes courtesy of FC Kansas City, who've never lost to the Portland Thorns at home. After only managing to draw the Orlando Pride last week in a hard-fought battle between two teams in desperate need of goals and points, FC Kansas City would love to preserve their home record against the Thorns. Unfortunately, the Thorns are going to be too much this time, and I think they get out of town with three points.

FC Kansas City 1-2 Portland Thorns

North Carolina Courage at Orlando Pride

Saturday at 5PM on Go90 App or Website

Can Marta Magic Make a difference?

Can Marta Magic Make a difference?

I do not sniff an upset here. The Courage are a solid side, with good depth and the creativity to find a way to score even when their attack is being stifled. Orlando looked improved last week with Marta up top, but the Courage will have a plan for her and I expect the plan to work.

Orlando Pride 1-3 NC Courage

Boston Breakers at Chicago Red Stars

Sunday at 6PM on Go90 App or Website

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.

Due to an odd combination of tie-breaking scenarios, the Red Stars sit third on the table, while Boston resides in fifth. It's a little dumb, because Boston has a +1 goal differential compared to the Red Stars' 0 and fourth-place Houston's -3. All three teams have two wins and two losses, with Boston's signature 3-0 win a stark contrast to Houston's bleak 5-1 loss to the Reign. Oh, right, something about common opponents. 

Anyway, who needs tables? Boston will have a chance on Sunday to show they're ready to be considered among the best in the league. With an away win, the Breakers will keep pace with Portland and North Carolina. They'll also relegate to the rear-view mirror all of the away game misery of the past few years. 

Chicago should be better by now, but with her two goals, Julie Ertz is somehow their leading scorer. Actually, she's the Red Stars ONLY scorer, unless you want to count Houston's Sarah Hagen, whose own goal last week helped Chicago to their 2-0 win. Sure, Ertz is playing in the midfield, but zero goals from any other players is a problem. I don't think they fix it against Boston this week.

Chicago Red Stars 1-3 Boston Breakers

Last time, I promise.

If you checked out the post-game videos from Breakers v Courage (and you should, of course), you might have seen Breakers midfielder Rose Lavelle attacked by a tarp. No? Here it is, with screaming goats, because screaming goats make everything better.