NWSL Debrief: April

grass sport game match
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The NWSL is offically back in action! And what an explosive two week start the season has had. Fans missing the action in the off season have had plenty to welcome them back into the thick of it. In this post, we’ll do a brief assessment of each team as we begin to head into international duty, make some predictions for May games, and look at what’s on the horizon for the league.

 April in Review

North Carolina Courage

After a raging 2018 season of non-stop wins, Courage fans should be proud their team remains on top, but with the beginnings of fear popping up. While they have a great 2019 record with 1 draw and 2 wins, both wins have been easy and clear (5-0 against Orlando and 4-1 against Houston). Fans may be concerned as players gear up for a World Cup. With a roster full of likely national team players, the question will be whether the Courage can maintain their momentum with less experienced players, and against teams unable to give them as clear of a win.

Utah Royals

Royals fans have a lot to be proud of in their 2019 season. With 2 of 2 wins and an exceptional number of fans at the RIOT opener (over 18,000), it’s clear the inaugural kinks have been worked on. LaBonta and Press have shown how exceptional the Royals can be. Captain Sauerbrunn has not given fans the game I thought she would but other than that, the Royals should keep doing what they’re doing.

Chicago Red Stars

The Red Stars seem to be in a similar groove to last season. With more draws than anything else (1-0-2), the Red Stars seem to know how to play well, but can’t quite figure out how to identify and correct their weak spots. However, judging by the stagnation or staggering of other teams, the Red Stars should be just fine. Sam Kerr and Yuki Nagasato remain club leaders.

Portland Thorns

Like the Courage, the Thorns have a record that should begin to worry fans. Franch*, perhaps shaken by her less-than-stellar national friendlies showing, has made several amateur mistakes we aren’t used to seeing. The loss of Horan against Sky Blue has highlighted the weaknesses in Portland’s attack. The loss of Captain Sinclair and other roster highlights to National teams will likely make Portland’s season one that leaves fans much to desire. Hopefully, a return to Providence Park will revitalize the team.

Houston Dash

Similarly to the Red Stars, the Dash seem to be having a season comparative to their last. They seem to be a little tighter in their attack, and better able to keep opponents out of their box, but they still don’t seem to understand how to fix their weaknesses. It’ll be interesting to see how the team deals with the loss of Daly to England.

Washington Spirit

Under Burke’s leadership, the Spirit seem to be on a better track than last season. Although they’ve drawn and won an equal number, I think Spirit fans should feel good after their showing in Utah. The Spirit kept pace with the Royals, and would’ve tied with a goal from Lavelle. Hopefully, their improved performance boosts their 2,000 fans season opener.

Reign FC

While some fans feel worse about their new home stadium, this Seattle residence was thrilled with the experience at the Orlando game last week. While Cheney’s identity as a baseball field makes it a weird place for soccer, it is leaps and bounds better than Memorial. Their performance, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Fishlock and Rapinoe’s absences, and an almost entirely re-imagined roster leaves a Reign struggling to make the appropriate attack. Betos remains their star player, although the controversial Taylor is making her mark.

Sky Blue

Sitting near the bottom of the standings, fans may not feel much better about their team in 2019. However, Sky Blue has shown clear pressure in their attack (especially against Portland today), and organized defense. With no outright losses, Sky Blue may have failed to find a win, but sits in a great position for the upcoming World Cup. While Carli Lloyd is the clear MVP, the remaining roster isn’t far behind her. The investment Sky Blue has made in their players conditions have paid off, and hopefully, they can monopolize the weakening of other teams in a World Cup year, to boost attendance numbers and their place in the standings.

Orlando Pride

New head coach Marc Skinner has certainly made his mark on the team with his iconic sideline style, yet while the team has performed somewhat better than their 2018 showing, fans have been frustrated with their inability to make any meaningful moves. With a star studded roster of Morgan, Harris, and Krieger, it isn’t clear what the precise issue is. Skinner has an uphill battle with the only players able to make moves leaving soon for their international duty.

Match of the Month: Portland @ Chicago, with high winds, 8 goals, and 2 PKS, this wins by a landslide.

Honorable mention: Chicago @ Courage, because the reigning champs almost being beaten at their home during their opening match would have been amazing.

Goal of the Month: Kennedy’s bicycle kick last week in Tacoma that I got to witness with my own two eyes.

Honorable mention: Sinclair’s hat tricks in Chicago

Save of the Month: Kailen Sheridan against Sky Blue because she’s the best non-called-up goalie in the league.

Honorable mention: Michelle Betos against the Pride at home because I saw this one too and it was only slightly less impressive than Sheridan’s.


Looking Ahead


UTA v CHI (1-1)

WAS v SEA* (1-0)

NC v NJ (1-1)

HOU v ORL (2-0)

NJ v WAS (2-1)

UTA v HOU (2-0)

POR v ORL (3-0)

CHI v NC (0-0)

SEA v NJ (0-2)

WAS v POR (0-1)

NC v UTA (1-3)

HOU v CHI (0-3)

The Future of the NWSL

Looking very healthy with a potential TV deal for the second half of the 2019 season and a very likely LAFC launch for 2020 (still crossing my fingers a second team is added, in addition to LAFC!)


Follow Bryce’s NWSL Twitter here. Buy his debut collection here.

Hate this post? Let us know. Love it? Share with a friend!

* Franch is still my favorite, so yes, this was difficult to post.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: