Does this goofy slate of Wednesday matches count as a week of play? Was my "Week XX" article naming convention poorly considered? Let's go with YES on both accounts. Be that as it may, we've got four matches tonight and lots to discuss. Onward!
North Carolina and Washington get the night off, though the Spirit will probably be announcing that at least one or two players will be given the foreseeable future off later on this afternoon. After signing Chilean international Yanara Aedo earlier in the week, the Spirit roster sits at 25 players. Since 25 is greater than 20, something has got to give. Lohman, Wys and Farquharson are all out with ACLs, so they won't count. But that still leaves two roster spots more than the team is allowed, and consequently two players who aren't going to have a great day. Cameron Castleberry and Katie Stengel are my guesses.
UPDATE: Yep, it's Castleberry and Stengel.
The Courage, after completing a season sweep of the Breakers on Saturday, are only getting stronger. They're on top of the table and looking very strong as the season enters the hot part of the year. They've got a few different lineups to deploy to attack teams who try to defend them one way or another. Jess McDonald isn't looking likely to return soon, but Lynn Williams should be ready to go. With Hatch and Hamilton looking very composed in the attack, Paul Riley is dealing with some great problems to have.
But forget about these two, as there are four matches tonight, and the Spirit and Courage are not invited!
Orlando Pride at Sky Blue FC
Wednesday at 7PM on Go90 App & NWSL Webcast
I've been impressed with Sky Blue at times this season, but after taking an early road lead at the Red Stars on Saturday, they couldn't find a way to finish, and let Chicago back into the game, eventually losing 2-1. They'll need to do better against Orlando, who will be smarting after following their 4-2 win at Houston with a 2-0 home defeat to the same team. Two teams coming off of annoying losses? Sounds about even to me.
Sky Blue FC 2-2 Orlando Pride
Boston Breakers at Houston Dash
Wednesday at 9PM on Go90 App & NWSL Webcast
The Breakers will be relieved that their three matches against the Courage are over for the year, and should look a lot stronger in Houston, with Allysha Chapman and Rosie White both once again available for selection. Chapman should start against her former team, and restore the defensive bite that they've been missing. She's also exceptional at getting forward and placing crosses, another weakness in the team lately. Boston won't have Amanda DaCosta, who flew to Portugal yesterday in advance of the UEFA Women's Euro tournament. Emilie Haavi will also be in the EURO tournament, though she won't head to Norway until after this weekend's matches.
Houston was dealt a blow to their attack with the loss of Kealia Ohai for the season with ACL and medial meniscus injuries to her left knee. However, Carli Lloyd is back looking dangerous and Rachel Daly should be restored permanently to her attacking role without Ohai being available.
Both of these sides need wins, but Boston REALLY needs a win. Houston has been so inconsistent that I'm going to guess they suffer a slight let-down after their away win at Orlando. Rosie White stabilizes Boston's attack and they return home with three points.
Houston Dash 1-2 Boston Breakers
FC Kansas City at Portland Thorns
Wednesday at 10PM on Go90 App & NWSL Webcast
Can the Thorns really drop two in a row at home? After getting dismantled at Providence Park by Sky Blue two weeks ago, they couldn't manage to score against the Washington Spirit in Maryland over the weekend. They'll be losing Nadim and Henry to the EUROs soon, so they'll be desperate to avoid dropping three in a row.
FCKC generally looks pretty solid, though they're still not blowing the doors off of anyone on the attack. Their defense has held up to almost everyone, but they keep just earning one point when they need to collect three. I'm not sure that changes today. Portland should be able to win this one, but for some reason they just aren't putting it together. Sounds like another draw.
Portland Thorns 2-2 FCKC
Chicago Red Stars at Seattle Reign
Wednesday at 10:30PM on Go90 App & NWSL Webcast
Seattle managed a draw playing with just ten on Saturday, after Lauren Barnes and Shea Groom got tangled up by Groom's elbow (which apparently has some ligament damage), earning Barnes a straight RED CARD. Ouch.
Chicago swatted away the pesky surging Sky Blue squad with a 2-1 home win on Sunday. They did manage to beat Seattle at home earlier in June, but I have a feeling Seattle will fight harder for points after managing to earn one with 10 women on Saturday at home. Fishlock and Rapinoe can't be denied tonight.
Seattle Reign 2-1 Chicago Red Stars