NWSL Week 7 Preview & Picks

Bold (BAD) Predictions are skewing back to the BAD side.

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
Week 5: 1 correct, 4 wrong
Week 6: 1 correct, 4 wrrrrroonnng.

Friday saw the Breakers surrender a PK and some momentum to the Thorns on their way to a 2-2 draw, despite having looked the stronger side for the majority of the match. Houston completed their home and away season defeats to Sky Blue, and FCKC's defense was stout against the Spirit, who didn't get any pyrotechnics from the debut of Mallory Pugh. North Carolina didn't have any answers for Chicago, though they won't have much time to dwell on it with the first Wednesday match of the year (dollar beer night, no less) coming up tonight when they host Sky Blue at 7:30. On the west coast, Seattle couldn't their way past Orlando, settling for a 1-1 home draw. Orlando, unfortunately, came out with bad news to accompany their point, as their Captain and GK Ashlyn Harris for at least eight weeks with a quad injury.

This week we've got bonus football, with two matches for both the Courage and Sky Blue. Hopefully the short rest won't be too disruptive; every team will face it at some point this year. Unfortunately, the logistics of bonus football have landed five matches on Saturday, with not zero overlap. It's Memorial Day weekend in the NWSL, where three points separate the first seven teams in the table. Parity is real, but the coming weeks should start to show which teams will be able to keep up the pace. 

Sky Blue FC at North Carolina Courage

Wednesday at 7:30PM on Go90 (maybe) & NWSL Website Livestream

Dollar Beer Night, People.

Dollar Beer Night, People.

The Courage got off to a torrid start, but haven't looked quite sure what to do over the past two weeks in losses to Orlando and Chicago. They remain the only team to collect 12 points, but just below them with ten is Sky Blue. They've been on the rise over the past month, taking care of business and getting quality performances in all three lines. Lately, they've been a bit spoiled, having faced Houston twice on consecutive Lifetime TV broadcasts. Houston has looked a mess at times, so it's hard to tell how good Sky Blue really is. This weekend should help settle things.

I think the Courage will improve over their performance against Chicago, and Sky Blue will have to remind themselves that they don't get to play the Dash every week. Dollar beer night goes to the home side. 

Courage 2-1 Sky Blue 


Seattle Reign at Houston Dash

Saturday at 4PM on Lifetime TV

Will it Reign in Houston? Guessing yes.

Will it Reign in Houston? Guessing yes.

Seattle's been a bit hit-or-miss, but I like their chances against the Dash, who face the unenviable task of trying to contain Jess Fishlock and Megan Rapinoe on Lifetime's Game of the Week. It's the third consecutive GOTW for the Dash, and they'll be feeling a lot of pressure to change the narrative. I can see this one going either way, and Seattle will once again be without the suspended Merritt Mathias, opening up some room for Ohai to work. Still, the Reign will have a plan and I think they grab all three points on the road.

Houston 2-3 Seattle


North Carolina Courage at Chicago Red Stars

Saturday at 4PM on Go90 (maybe) & NWSL Website Livestream

Can Chicago win home and away? 

Can Chicago win home and away? 

This is a classic trap match for Chicago. They handed the Courage their first ever home loss 3-1 on Sunday, and the Courage will also have played another game on Wednesday. All signs point to a Chicago win, except that the Red Stars have been very inconsistent this year. Before Christen Press equalized against the Breakers two weeks ago, the only name on Chicago's scoresheet was Julie Ertz. The Courage will need to dig deep to get points in this one, but I think they're able to manage a draw and avoid the home/away sweep to the Red Stars.

Red Stars 2-2 Courage


Orlando Pride at Sky Blue FC

Saturday at 7PM on Go90 (maybe) & NWSL Website Livestream

Um...

Um...

I've been impressed with Orlando lately. Marta has made an impact and has the rest of the side playing with urgency. Ash Harris will be gone, so her leadership as well as her goalkeeping (whatever your opinion of both) won't factor for the next two months. Orlando has quietly not lost a match since April. Sky Blue, on the other hand, has dominated the Dash all month after an ugly loss at Washington on May 6th. They'll be a bit road-weary having just played at North Carolina on Wednesday, and I think it's enough of an energy gap for the Pride to snipe a winner.

Sky Blue 2-3 Pride


Washington Sprit at FC Kansas City

Saturday at 8PM on Go90 (maybe) & NWSL Website Livestream

LOCK! FCKC all night long.

LOCK! FCKC all night long.

Mallory Pugh is an undeniable talent, but so is Becky Sauerbrunn. Broon has seen all of Pugh's tricks up close, and will have her backline ready for the teenager's go-to moves. Kansas City's defense has kept them alive, but they haven't scored more than one goal in a game since Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux kicked off the season in style against Boston. They're a bit frustrating to watch on the attack, because they seem often to want to wait for a perfect chance instead of unloading when they get a glimpse of goal. But I don't think that problem will persist for much longer. If FCKC can't convincingly beat the Spirit at home, they'll be making some changes up top. 

FCKC 2-1 Spirit


Boston Breakers at Portland Thorns

Sunday at 10PM on Go90 (maybe) & NWSL Website Livestream

Both teams need the points.

Both teams need the points.

After taking a 2-0 lead last Friday, the Breakers surrendered a PK and an equalizer to Nadia Nadim to split points with the visitors. It was the second consecutive game that Boston gave up a late equalizer, and they'll want to get that creeping doubt out of their heads with a stronger defensive performance against the Thorns this week. Portland will still be without the services of Tobin Heath, but Allie Long is expected back in the starting XI. The Thorns were shockingly ineffective in the midfield last week, and employed a 2nd half strategy of long passes from the backline to the forwards in hopes of getting a knock-down to fall just right. One did, leading to Nadim's second goal. With Long back, they should see Horan and Henry do better, although Angela Salem's quick reads and fast feet was a virtual roadblock last week. Feels pretty even again.

Portland 2-2 Boston