The National Women's Soccer League is back in action on Sunday as North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns square off on CBS Sports Network. The two clubs are meeting for the second time this season, and the first-place Thorns have a three point lead over second-place North Carolina in the standings. Both teams are in contention for the 2021 NWSL Shield, and the Courage currently hold a game over Portland in head to head tie breakers after defeating the Thorns 2-0 earlier this season.
North Carolina Courage: After an inconsistent start to the season the Courage put together results to keep them in the top three of the league standings for several weeks now and enter this match day off a 0-0 draw against Kansas City NWSL last week. The team is without Sam Mewis due to injury, but have managed throughout the season without her presence in the midfield thanks to a rotation of Debinha, Denise O'Sullivan, Meredith Speck, and Havana Solaun. Head coach Paul Riley has uncharacteristically made changes to his typical box midfield in recent weeks, setting the team up in a back three at times, and rotating the backline, recently pushing outside backs Merritt Methias and Carson Pickett into center back positions. Let's see if the odd, late season, changes pay off against an in form Thorns side.
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Portland Thorns: Head coach Mark Parsons is in the midst of preparing the Thorns for a big match against the Courage but will depart after the game to be with his Netherlands side during the international window. The Thorns head into North Carolina after having their previous match against the Washington Spirit cancelled due to a covid outbreak of positive cases among the Spirit squad. The team will either be well rested, or perhaps need time to work into the match, though the club has shown they are more than capable of putting together strong performances no matter their rest levels. Look for an active game from Sophia Smith before she heads off to the U.S. women's national team training camp.
Here's what you need to know about how to watch the upcoming match in North Carolina:
- Date: Sunday, Sept. 15
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- Location: WakeMed Soccer Park -- Cary, North Carolina
- TV: CBS Sports Network
Two teams with long playoff histories put out strong performances but Courage just narrowly pick up the victory over Portland in a second half surge. Pick: Courage 2, Portland 1