Week 2 of the fifth season of the National Women’s Soccer League begins on Saturday, April 22 as four of the five visiting teams from last weekend are set to make their season debuts in front of their home crowds. Additionally, the first leg of the UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinals kick off on Saturday, with one of the two matches set to feature two veteran WNT players.
Below are this weekend’s matchups and the U.S. Women’s National Team players to keep an eye on:
Saturday, April 22
Chicago Red Stars vs. FC Kansas City – 4 p.m. ET (go90.com)
After losing 2-0 in Houston last weekend, Chicago makes its home debut looking for its first goal and point of the season. Team captain Christen Press, Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher and Casey Short will welcome a triumphant FCKC team captained by Becky Sauerbrunn to Toyota Park. After struggling early in the 2016 season but finishing strong, FCKC opened the new season with a terrific 2-0 win against the Boston Breakers last Sunday. Sydney Leroux scored in her first game back since 2015, as did Amy Rodriguez. The win was bittersweet, however, as Rodriguez was stretched off the field with an injury early in the second half. On Tuesday, FCKC confirmed that she suffered a torn ACL in her left knee and will be out for the remainder of the season.
Kansas City is unbeaten in its last five games dating back to last year. A win on Saturday could mark the first time in club history that the Blues start the year with wins in its first two matches. Even a draw would see them match the best two-game start in team history. FCKC is unbeaten in its last two matches against the Red Stars and a victory in Chicago would see the Blues match a club-record with three consecutive road wins overall.
Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit – 4 p.m. ET (TV: Lifetime Game of the Week)
After its inaugural season in 2016, this weekend will bring another historic first for the Pride as the club is set to play its first game in their new home, Orlando City Stadium. The brand-new stadium had its first MLS game on March 5, but it will host its first NWSL game this weekend. After a 2-0 loss in the national TV game last Saturday in Portland, Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger will welcome their former club, Washington Spirit, in another nationally televised game on Lifetime as the Pride are featured in the Game of the Week for the second consecutive week.
North Carolina Courage vs. Portland Thorns – 7:30 p.m. ET (go90.com)
After much anticipation, the North Carolina Courage are bringing women’s professional soccer back to the state of North Carolina when they face the Portland Thorns on Saturday evening. In a rematch of one of last’s year’s playoff semifinals, the game will bring together several WNT players in Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams for the Courage, and Allie Long, Lindsey Horan, Meghan Klingenberg and Emily Sonnett for the Thorns. Tobin Heath will sit out her second game in a row due to a minor back injury.
Portland tied FC Kansas City for the best road record in the league last season and allowed just 11 goals in 10 games, which was tied for the second-fewest goals allowed away from home.
Seattle Reign FC vs. Houston Dash – 10 p.m. ET (go90.com)
Seattle is the only team that gets to host back-to-back home games to open the season and after a 1-1 draw last weekend against Sky Blue, Megan Rapinoe and the Reign welcome Kealia Ohai and Jane Campbell to Memorial Stadium, a venue that has historically provided Seattle a strong home field advantage. Morgan Brian will sit out the match due to a minor knee injury.
The Dash have lost all seven previous meetings against Seattle, including all four road games by a combined score of 9-2. Houston’s most recent loss to the Reign came on the final day of the 2016 season. Seattle will come into the match looking to extend its NWSL record 18-game home scoring streak.
Sunday, April 23
Boston Breakers vs. Sky Blue FC – 6 p.m. ET (go90.com)
Boston welcomes Sky Blue FC in the only Sunday matchup this weekend. Top draft pick Rose Lavelle will play in front of her home crowd for the first time and face off against Kelley O’Hara, hoping to help Boston earn its first point of the season. Sky Blue comes into the match with a three-game winning streak against the Breakers, while Boston, who is 1-2-1 all-time in home openers, will look for its first win in one since 2015.
Saturday, April 22
Manchester City (ENG) vs. Olympique Lyonnais (FRA) – 9 a.m. ET UEFA Women’s Champions League
Saturday morning brings a huge matchup overseas between two European powerhouses in the first leg of one of the two semifinals series in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Alex Morgan and Olympique Lyoannais travel to Manchester to face Carli Lloyd and Manchester City. The second leg in France will be contested on April 29 in Lyon. The winner will advance to the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final and will face either Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain. OL is the current reigning UWCL title holder.
ESPN3.com is slated to stream the match live at 8:55 a.m. ET. Authentication is required.
A NEW PLATFORM: go90.com
To watch live in the USA, download the go90 app (free) on your mobile device or tablet via the App Store or Google Play. Users with go90 version 3.0 and later can cast live games from the go90 app to Airplay and Chromecast. No registration or authentication is required. Matches will also be streamed live via nwslsoccer.com or the NWSL app (for users outside the U.S. only.)
The 2017 complete NWSL schedule is here. For more in-depth information and the latest news and updates about the NWSL schedule, matchups, records, etc., visit: www.nwslsoccer.com and follow them on Twitter @NWSL.
The opening weekend of the 2017 NWSL season kicked off on Saturday, April 15 with four tightly-contested matches, including the first live TV broadcast with the league’s new partner, Lifetime.
Additionally, Division 1 Fémenine and FA Cup action continued abroad on Sunday evening and Monday morning. Below, we highlight some of the performances of the U.S. Women’s National Team players for their respective clubs.
Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars (2-0 Dash; Goals: Ohai, Daly)
Kealia Ohai notched the first goal of the new season in 15th minute as the Houston Dash squared off against the Chicago Red Stars. The goal gave the Dash a lead they would not relinquish. Rachel Daly added a second for Houston on a spectacular curving strike late in the game to secure the 2-0 win. Despite allowing the two goals in the game, Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher played an excellent match, recording six saves.
The historic fifth season of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) begins on Saturday, April 15 as 10 teams take field for the first time in an official game in 2017. The first match of the season will see the Houston Dash welcome the Chicago Red Stars, to BBVA Compass Stadium while the first game set to be broadcast on Lifetime will feature the Portland Thorns vs. the Orlando Pride. Due to the ground-breaking deal with Lifetime, this season marks the first that the NWSL will have a game on broadcast television every week.
Below are the matchups for opening weekend and the U.S. Women’s National Team players to keep an eye on:
Saturday, April 15
Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars – 2 p.m. ET (go90.com)
For the second consecutive season, Houston will host Chicago to open the campaign in what will be the ninth meetings between the two teams. Last season, the Dash beat the Red Stars 3-1 in their home opener with goals from Rachel Daly, Carli Lloyd and Janine Beckie. It’s the only win Houston has ever managed against Chicago. Forward Kealia Ohai is expected to start for Houston, while midfielder Morgan Brian, who has been sideline with a minor knee injury and recently missed the WNT April training camp, is unlikely to play in the season opener. Lloyd is currently playing for Manchester City and won’t return to the Dash until June. A new WNT addition to the Dash this season is goalkeeper Jane Campbell, who was drafted as the 15th overall pick of the 2017 NWSL College draft.
Chicago enters 2017 hoping to continue its success from last season. Led by Red Stars forward Christen Press, who scored in four of the last five games of the 2016 season, the team will count on its strong attack as well as its defensive unit made up of WNT players Julie Ertz, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and Casey Short, to keep the Dash at bay. Chicago was tied for the No.2-ranked defense in the league in 2016, which included the second fewest goals away from home.
Portland Thorns FC vs. Orlando Pride – 3 p.m. ET (TV: Lifetime Game of the Week)
Portland welcomes Orlando to raucous Providence Park for the second time to open a new NWSL season. The game is the marquee matchup of the weekend as it will be the first of 22 games that will air nationally on Lifetime this season. The Portland crowd will certainly be ready to support the Thorns. Last year, Portland led the league in home attendance, averaging 16,000 fans per game. Portland has a 4-0-0 record in home openers.
Portland will be looking to improve on its 2016 NWSL Shield-winning season. After missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 2015, the Thorns went 12-3-5 in the regular season in 2016 and finish atop the league standings. The Thorns were ever-so-close to advancing to the title match but fell 4-3 to eventual champions Western New York Flash in an epic semifinal.
At least six U.S. WNT players are expected to be in the starting lineups for this one, 2016 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year Ashlyn Harris and defender Ali Krieger for Orlando, and midfielder Lindsey Horan, defender Meghan Klingenberg, midfielder Allie Long and defender Emily Sonnett. Tobin Heath (Portland) will sit out the home opener due to a minor back injury, while Alex Morgan (Orlando) is currently playing in France with Olympique Lyonnais and will not return to her club until June.
Portland opened their season last year at home vs. Orlando where they topped the Pride 2-1 a late goal from Lindsey Horan. Later in the season in Orlando, the Thorns beat the Pride, 2-1, once again thanks to another late goal from Horan.
Washington Spirit vs. North Carolina Courage – 3 p.m. ET (go90.com)
In a rematch of last year’s championship match, reigning NWSL MVP, Golden Boot winner and WNT forward Lynn Williams, midfielder Samantha Mewis and the North Carolina Courage travel to face the Washington Spirit in its first game since relocating to North Carolina few months ago. Williams’ 124th minute header against the Spirit in last year’s NWSL title game is still one of the most dramatic and the latest goals in NWSL Championship history. The Courage will be without coach Paul Riley, who is serving the last game of a two-game suspension for his red card during last year’s NWSL semifinal.
Washington has won the opening match of the season just once in their history, a 1-0 win last year against the Boston Breakers.
Seattle Reign FC vs. Sky Blue FC – 10 p.m. ET (go90.com)
After a shaky season in 2016, Seattle will look to right the ship this year in search of its first NWSL championship. NWSL Shield winners in 2014 and 2015, but the league title eluded them following defeats in the championship match to FC Kansas City in both years. Megan Rapinoe and the Seattle Reign welcome Sky Blue FC into Memorial Stadium after SBFC snapped the Reign’s 22-game regular season unbeaten home streak last year. Sky Blue FC enters 2017 with high hopes after adding some new talent to its roster. Kelley O’Hara, who has always produced on the club level, will lead the team’s quest for a post-season appearance.
Sky Blue FC is the only team in the league with a winning record on the road against Seattle and it comes into the contest having scored in each of their last 11 matches overall and last eight road games – both of which are the longest active streaks in the league. Seattle has only lost once on opening day, last year to Sky Blue.
Sunday, April 16
Kansas City vs. Boston Breakers – 6 p.m. ET (go90.com)
After championship seasons in 2014 and 2015, FC Kansas City struggled in 2016, posting a 2-4-4 home record, the second-worst mark in the league. Becky Sauerbrunn, Sydney Leroux and Amy Rodriguez (the latter two coming back from pregnancies that kept them out from the field for the entire 2016 season) will look to guide FC Kansas City back to its winning ways when they welcome Rose Lavelle, in her NWSL debut, and the Boston Breakers in the only matchup on Sunday. The match for Leroux will be her first with the Blues since she was acquired in a trade ahead of the 2016 season.
The Breakers swept the season series against FC Kansas City last season and come into the game Sunday with the opportunity to win three straight games against an opponent for the first time in club history. Kansas City was ninth in the league in home offense last year, while Boston, who finished last in the league, enters 2017 with a revamped roster that includes four first round picks in the most recent college draft.
Stream it LIVE: go90.com
Matches will be streamed live via go90.com. To watch, you can also simply download the go90 app via the App Store or Google Play. Users with go90 version 3.0 and later can cast live games from the go90 app to Airplay and Chromecast. No registration or authentication is required. The 2017 complete NWSL schedule is here. For more in-depth information and the latest news and updates about the NWSL schedule, matchups, records, etc., visit: www.nwslsoccer.com and follow them on Twitter @NWSL
On Saturday, April 15, the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League kicks off its fifth season, highlighted by a fantastic new partnership with Lifetime, a team with many familiar faces in a new market (North Carolina), an updated website and much more. Here are five things to know about the upcoming season:
Year Five Begins
While 2016 marked the first time a woman’s professional league had reached a fourth season in the United States, the fifth season promises to be historic as well. On the field, the most competitive women’s pro league in the world will show its growing stability, while continued investment by U.S. Soccer and the league’s owners will resume to establish the NWSL as the best women’s league in the world.
The National Women’s Soccer League began in 2013 with eight teams: the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit and Western New York Flash. In 2014, the Houston Dash joined the league to make it nine, followed by the Orlando Pride in 2015 to up the total number of teams to 10.
The Reigning Champs Have New Name, New Home
On Jan. 9, the NWSL announced that North Carolina Football Club had acquired the rights to the NWSL 2016 Champion Western New York Flash. With this agreement, the Flash has been renamed the North Carolina Courage (also referred to as NC Courage) and will play at the newly named Sahlen’s Stadium (formerly WakeMed Soccer Park) in Cary, N.C. in the 2017 NWSL season. As part of the deal, the players that were under contract to the Flash became part of the NC Courage roster.
Founded by the Sahlen family in 2008 as the Buffalo Flash in the USL W-League, the WNY Flash was one of the USA’s most decorated women’s professional soccer teams, winning four championships in three different leagues. Most recently, in its final season, the club won the 2016 NWSL Championship on October 9 by defeating the Washington Spirit in penalty kicks.