COG. That works. It's a "Collection Of Games." I really wanted to find a way to call the four-games-at-a-time with one extra rando game slathered in sometimes a "BLOB," but couldn't make the acronym work. So, COG it is. Let's get ready for COG 2.
What Happened in COG 1?
Week one was broadly entertaining, and it was good to see some composed play and fight from teams who had looked abysmal at the end of 2017. North Carolina got the better of Portland, though both sides were missing a few key starters. Utah left Orlando with a draw after a certain match official pointed to the penalty spot on what is likely to be the worst penalty call of her otherwise replete with examples of terrible officiating career. Seattle held strong against Washington at home, and Houston couldn't retain their lead in stoppage time, conceding a stoppage-time equalizer despite having dominated the entire match. Yes, the Dash. I know, right?
This is where I think things sit at the moment:
Eye test, week 1 (FWIW):— Her Pitch (@HerPitch) March 26, 2018
4. Thorns / Pride tie
8. Spirit / Red Stars tie
(Incomplete) Sky Blue
776,935. A certain official
Obviously the return of missing players will make this a different list, but that’s what I saw this weekend.
Utah Royals at Houston Dash
Friday at 8PM on Go90
Houston looked good at times last week, which wasn't really their thing last year. After an offseason of upheaval and change across the roster and coaching staff, the team came out and put together what should have been a winning performance.
As for the Royals—who knew what to expect? Would they look like FCKC in new uniforms? Would they play a Reign-style brand of football under their new boss? No and no, apparently. Instead, they pressed Orlando into making many mistakes while moving the ball well. They deserved to win. However, the face of one Rebecca Sauerbrunn, Defender, Utah Royals FC and the USWNT, was somehow mistaken for an arm or an elbow, which placed Marta on the penalty spot for a sure conversion and the answer to a future NWSL trivia contest question. The andswer to other trivia question—the one about who scored the first ever Royals goal—is Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir.
Stop laughing. Stop. Laughing. Crying is more appropriate.
So now, the two teams that had to settle for crummy disappointing draws meet. Based solely on last week, I'd say the Royals are more likely to be happy at the final whistle tonight. But, let's look at the 'ol injury report: Hmm, Kelley O'Hara (hamstring) and Elise Thorsnes (concussion) are both OUT. That might give the Dash enough to make up the difference. But I'm staying with the Royals.
Houston Dash 1-2 Utah Royals
Sky Blue FC at North Carolina Courage
Saturday at 3PM Eastern on Go90
Sky Blue hasn't had a match yet, but they'll have to find their rhythm quickly if they want any hope of beating the Courage on their home turf. NC will still be without Sammy Mewis, but the midfield survived without her last week. I think expectations for Sky Blue are pretty low, but I think they made some great moves in the offseason and are going to be dramatically improved (though losing Sam Kerr hurts) as soon as those new pieces come together. I think they might come together enough in their first match to grab a goal or two. It's a shocking draw!
NC Courage 2-2 Sky Blue
Orlando Pride at Washington Spirit
Saturday at 3:30PM Eastern on Lifetime
No-brainer, right? The Pride looked pretty good and the Spirit looked pretty bad last week, so it's all Pride all the time, right? Nope. Let's take a look at who the Pride won't be running out for this game: Marta, Monica, Poliana are w/ Brazil, and Kennedy and van Egmond haven't arrived from Australia yet. Alex Morgan is questionable as a result of her concussion last week. That's a lot of talent missing for the Pride. Washington loses only Aedo and Banini to international duty, and will want to have a better showing than last week as they treat their home fans to a nationally televised Lifetime Game of the Week. I see a big Washington win.
Washington Spirit 3-1 Orlando Pride
Portland Thorns at Chicago Red Stars
Saturday at 8:15PM on Go90
The Red Stars found a way to score last week, but Portland is better than the Dash. They've still got too many missing pieces, and this match might get lopsided as a result. Thorns are solid and have some work to do to gel, but they'll have a stronger XI and should comfortably win.
Chicago Red Stars 1-4 Portland Thorns