Wednesday Match Preview & Picks

Hey there. If you're like me, you've been distracted from regular soccer concerns lately by little things like our nation's fourth largest city being submerged by more than 50 inches of rain. Maybe you're also cranky about politics. I sure am. 

But don't despair, because we've got some exciting NWSL TRADE NEWS!

Kristie Mewis is heading to Houston and Morgan Brian is heading to Chicago. At the end of 2016, Mewis was a Boston Breaker. She was traded in the off-season to the Washington Spirit, who subsequently sent her to the Chicago Red Stars on August 21st. It's currently August 30th. Seriously. One could vacation in Chicago for longer than Mewis will have been a Red Star.

This tweet has not aged well:

Now, Mewis is headed to the Dash, and USWNT star Morgan Brian will suit up with the Red Stars instead. Brian has had some lingering injury issues during her Dash tenure, and hasn't looked at her best for a while, so the change of scenery might do her some good.

There have been some rumors about Brian following Alex Morgan to Lyon for the spring, but today has also brought some rumblings that Amandine Henry will pass on PSG's advances in favor of Lyon, which might not have left room for Brian to fit comfortably in the squad. That will all shake out eventually. But in any case, the Dash have moved on, and Mewis will suit up for her fourth club in less than a year (though, depending on how fast her new city dries out, possibly not in front of the home fans).

Tonight, we've got a chance to enjoy watching the league's best team take on what might be the league's worst, in a rematch of last year's final. Though the Courage aren't called the Western New York Flash anymore, it's largely the same core of players who will visit Boyds, Maryland for a 7:30PM kickoff at the SoccerPlex. Let's take a look.

North Carolina Courage at Washington Spirit

Tuesday at 7:30PM on Go90 App 

The suspense is killing us.

The suspense is killing us.

Here's what we've got: A Courage side that is two points clear of the nearest challenger in the standings—that has played two fewer games. They've collected 39 points through 18 matches (last week's match at Houston was postponed), and the 2nd place Thorns have earned 37 in 20 matches. By the time the Courage have played 20 matches, They could have 6 more points, meaning they'd be eight points clear with only four matches to go. Unless they rest everybody or suffer some calamity, they should end the year at the top of the table.

Washington has played 19 matches, and after tonight will have completed 20, like most of the other teams (again, except for Houston & NC). If they lose, they'll be close to locking up last place for the season. Despite being even on points and having one more win than the Boston Breakers, they've currently got a loss and a draw to them. The two sides will meet again on September 23rd, but that feels a long way away. To close out the year, the Spirit will face the Courage, the Thorns, Sky Blue, the Breakers and the Reign. Not exactly smooth sailing.

If the end-of-season table results are in question, there will be whispers to "suck for Sully" in reference to likely top draft pick Andi Sullivan the senior midfielder from Stanford, who is from the DC area about 40 miles from the SoccerPlex. Together with Mal Pugh, Washington could develop into a force again, provided they don't continue to draw the short straw on ACL injuries. Of course, Sully would pair nicely with Rose Lavelle in Boston too. Either way, Sully is back on the field for Stanford after recovering from her own ACL injury. They're everywhere, people.

ACLs figure heavily in the Spirit injury report for this game, with promising forward Arielle Ship being the latest to suffer the dreaded diagnosis. She joins fellow ACL-tear squad Joanna Lohman & Line Sigvardsen Jensen on the shelf, alongside Kassey Kallman who remains out with a concussion and Yanara Aedo who is out with a meniscus tear. With Stephanie Labbé missing due to an excused absence, it's good news that GK Kelsey Wys is now only doubtful on the injury report as she continues to work to get back from her own ACL tear. The team will need DiDi Haracic to stay between the pipes, as she'll be the only fully-healthy GK available tonight.

Across the pitch, Yuri Kawamura remains sidelined with her meniscus and ACL tears, with Darian Jenkins still nursing her nasty ankle injury. Sabrina D'Angelo is ill and won't be available, but otherwise the Courage squad is healthy.

It's hard to make a case for this game to be anything other than a relatively easy Courage victory. They've been a bit deficient finding the net lately, having scored more than one goal only once since mid-June. But they usually find a way to win, and I can't see them being shut down by the Spirit. The win will clinch a playoff berth 

Washington Spirit 1-3 NC Courage