Are you watching the FIFA (Men's) World Cup? You should. It's entertaining. There are stars. And it's a look at what we'll be devouring this time next year for the FIFA Women's World Cup. Except there is likely to be less diving next year in France.
In good news for all, Russia is 1/2 way around the world, so there's no need to not watch both the (Men's) World Cup AND the NWSL this weekend. Order new couch cushions on Amazon Prime, because that dent isn't going to recover after this month.
Also, ICELAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Clap) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What Happened in COG 11?
Oh dear. Didn't you hear? Nothing. Washington and Sky Blue battled to a FIFA window scoreless draw because apparently both sides want Tierna Davidson. High draft picks hasn't exactly been a successful strategy for the Spirit so far, so I'm not counting on Davidson being any kind of savior next year for either team here.
With the draw, Sky Blue earned only its SECOND point of the season through ten games. Oy. Washington has just NINE points after having played 12. Not. Good. Enough.
Seattle Reign at Washington Spirit
Saturday at 7PM Eastern on Go90
Mal Pugh being out for the Spirit is bad, and they're going to need to make some adjustments to become competitive again. Last week's rough outing in New Jersey earned them a point against the only worse team on the table, but that's not going to get the job done against the Reign.
Jess Fishlock is questionable with a right quad strain, but otherwise the Reign are returning to full strength (other than Yael Averbuch, who hasn't featured this season due to a flare of ulcerative colitis). Megan Rapinoe could probably dispatch the Spirit herself, but she won't have to.
This looks ugly, unless the Reign somehow lay an egg. They're in 2nd place on the table but have dropped points in three of their last five games—so anything is possible. I'm just not betting on it.
Washington Spirit 1-3 Seattle Reign
Utah Royals at North Carolina Courage
Saturday at 7PM Eastern on Go90
Tricky. Kelley O'Hara is still out for the Royals, but they haven't let her absence drag them down. Today, this becomes a matchup problem on the outside, because Merritt Mathias and Jaelene Hinkle have been good both on defense and on the attack for the Courage.
I like Laura Harvey's Royals. I think they can compete for the last playoff berth. But I'm not sure they're ready to take on the Courage. This squad positively demolished the Thorns, then, without their internationals (lots and lots of them), earned a draw at Houston just a few days later. They're tough, they're good, and they're not dropping games that they should win. I think they treat their home crowd to a victory tonight.
NC Courage 2-1 Utah Royals
Sky Blue FC at Orlando Pride
Saturday at 7:30PM Eastern on Go90
Krieger is OUT. Marta is questionable with a left calf strain. Everyone else for the Pride are ready to go.
Sky Blue won't have Shea Groom, Jen Hoy or Raquel Rodriguez. (They also won't have Adriana Leon, who was inexplicably sent to Seattle for a few clods of laundry lint last week.)
What can possibly happen here? Is Sky Blue the Iceland of today's NWSL schedule? Can they collect at least a point at the Pride during Pride?
Don't see it. Sorry Cloud 9.
Orlando Pride 3-1 Sky Blue FC
Portland Thorns at Chicago Red Stars
Saturday at 8PM on ESPNEWS (Say, "ESP News")
It's gut-check time for the Thorns. When last we saw our reigning NWSL Champs, they were in the process of coming to terms with a miserable home defeat at the hands of the NC Courage. FOUR Courage goals crossed the line in Providence Park, and Sinclair was only able to return the favor once.
Interestingly, the Red Stars recently suffered a home thumping of their own, losing 2-5 to the rampant Orlando Pride in late May. They recovered to beat the Spirit 2-0 the following week, but that wasn't much of a test. Every Red Star who has featured this season for more than 10 minutes will be available for Rory Dames' scheme. (Will they?)
Portland, however, is still without Adriana Franch—and will also be missing Midge Purce and Tobin Heath as they nurse back from knocks suffered on USWNT duty. Emily Sonnett is questionable with lower back pain.
The Thorns won their first match at Toyota Park this season 3-2, but that was back in March and they've struggled to put together a convincing string of wins since then. They have had plenty of time to prepare, and if they can't get a result tonight, it's certainly going to be time to get back to basics. With Houston and Sky Blue next up on their schedule, they should at least have some room for experimentation.
However. I'm just going to leave this here:
Thorns get the better of this matchup, whatever it looks like...
Chicago Red Stars 2-3 Portland Thorns