The National Women's Soccer League returns on Saturday as the 2021 regular season continues. The 24 game regular season is into the Olympic stretch of the season with teams navigating the schedule without key international players. Fans can watch games across CBS platforms and Paramount+.
Four games are on the docket over the weekend, kicking off Saturday as North Carolina Courage host Houston Dash. NWSL week nine action closes out Sunday with a triple header. Washington Spirit face NJ/NY Gotham FC, Chicago Red Stars meet OL Reign, and Portland Thorns FC host Orlando Pride. Racing Louisville FC and Kansas City NWSL have bye-weeks heading into week nine.
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Here's how to watch and what to know about the games this weekend:
Saturday, July 17
- North Carolina Courage vs. Houston Dash, 7:00 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
Sunday, July 18
- Washington Spirit vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC, 5:00 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
- Chicago Red Stars vs. OL Reign, 6:00 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
- Portland Thorns FC vs. Orlando Pride 10:30 p.m. ET (Twitch)
Courage and Dash look to bounce back
North Carolina Courage will host Houston Dash at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. Both sides are coming off losses from the previous week. North Carolina recorded only two shots on goal during their match against the Spirit despite good movement from their their attacking players Hallie Mace, Kristen Hamilton, and Jessica McDonald. The home side will need more from the midfield to establish attack in the run of play.
Houston Dash conceded two own goals in their 2-1 loss to Chicago last week. Better communication and positioning along the backline will be necessary for backup goal keeper Lindsay Harris and the center back duo of Katie Naughton and Megan Oyster.
Spirit host Gotham
Fourth-place Washington Spirit will face sixth-place NJ/NY Gotham FC at Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia. The two sides currently sit middle of the table and will battle for position in the standings and likely in the midfield as well.
Eyes will be on the attackers on both sides of the ball during this match, but the game might be won in the midfield. Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan is putting in consistent performances for the team, and recorded an assist during the teams previous match against North Carolina. Look for some individual battles in the middle third as Gotham FC's Allie Long has been having a similarly strong season in midfield for the east coast side. Gotham could also benefit from McCall Zerboni working her way back into form.
Chicago try to extend win streak
The Red Stars are coming off two consecutive wins, their first small streak of 2021, and will try to go for three against OL Reign. Chicago still have a lot to improve on at the attacking end, as their current streak stems in no small part from three opposition own goals. The team is generating good attacking scenarios, but need more options and lanes for striker Mal Pugh.
OL Reign are coming off a win against Kansas City NWSL, and welcome the new that Laura Harvey will be returning for her second stint as head coach, though Harvey won't be on NWSL sidelines until after the Olympics. A solid midfield featuring Jess Fishlock, Dzsenifer Marozsán and Sofia Huerta could provide some big trouble for Chicago after the trio had outstanding performances against Kansas City last week. Fishlock had four shots, Marozsán created six chances, and Huerta recorded an assist.
Portland and Orlando battle for first
Both Portland and Orlando are tied with North Carolina in the league standings with 16 points and are currently ranked second and third respectively. Portland's attacking line is looking for the breakthrough after picking up a scoreless draw last week against Gotham FC. Thorns striker Simone Charley has been active in the final third, but is still looking for the final touch in front of goal, and recorded only one shot and created one chance on goal in 57 minutes against Gotham FC.
Orlando Pride are winless in their last three matches after going on a seven game unbeaten streak to kick off their regular season. The team will likely look to striker Sydney Leroux for another big performance after scoring a late game equalizer in their previous match against Racing Louisville FC.