The National Women’s Soccer League is scheduled to return on Wednesday as the 2021 regular season continues. Matches this week are rescheduled games from October 1 and 2. These matches were initially postponed by the league in collaboration with the NWSL Players Association in the wake of recent reports of sexual misconduct from now former North Carolina Courage head coach Paul Riley.
Four games are scheduled for Wednesday, as the Courage and Washington Spirit headline the midweek action. Kansas City NWSL meet the Houston Dash, while the Chicago Red Stars face the Orlando Pride, and the Portland Thorns host OL Reign in their final regular season series.
The 24 game regular season is rapidly winding down, and there are still four of six playoff spots up for grabs. Fans can watch three games on Paramount+ this week.
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Here’s how to watch and what to know about the games this weekend:
Wednesday, October 13
- North Carolina Courage vs. Washington Spirit, 7:30 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
- Kansas City NWSL vs. Houston Dash, 8:00 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
- Chicago Red Stars vs. Orlando Pride, 8:00 p.m. ET (Twitch)
- Portland Thorns FC vs OL Reign, 10:30 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
Courage and Spirit aim to lock down playoff spots
Fourth place North Carolina Courage will host fifth place Washington Spirit and both clubs look to make sure they solidify their chances of making the playoffs. The Courage’s 0.9 goals against rate is the second lowest in the NWSL behind Portland at 0.8, and the defense will need a big a performance against a dynamic attack from the Spirit.
Ashley Hatch is the Spirit’s top goal scorer this season and is in a three way tie with Rachel Daly and Bethany Balcer for first in the golden boot race with nine goals.
Kansas City look to continue to play spoiler
Last place Kansas City NWSL will host third place Houston Dash, but the bottom dwellers have been very competitive down the stretch of the season. They’ve risen to the challenge of playing spoiler during these final weeks, stealing points off North Carolina and Portland. The team is also undefeated at home during their last five matches in Kansas City. Houston will try to extend their winning streak to four games, and will likely get another big performance from their team captain Rachel Daly. Daly is averaging 0.75 goals and assists per 90 minutes which leads the NWSL.
Chicago and Orlando look to climb the standings
Seventh place Chicago and eighth place Orlando will meet for the second time during the regular season with both clubs in desperate need of results in order to get back into playoff position. The two teams will have one additional regular season meeting on October 29.
Attackers will be key in this match as Orlando Pride forward Sydney Leroux trails the leading trio in the golden boot race by only one with eight goals. Mallory Pugh meanwhile is the attacking focal point for Chicago and leads the NWSL in fouls suffered in the attacking third with 14. Pugh has delivered 183 passes into the box this year, fourth-most in the NWSL.
First place on the line in Portland
First place Portland Thorns host second place Reign in the final regular season iteration of their Cascadian rivalry. One point separates the long time rivals and Reign have dominated the regular series season defeating Portland 2-1 twice this season. Portland have a 6-2-8 record all time against the Reign, scoring 21 goals and conceding 21.
Both teams have clinched a spot in the playoffs, but playoff positioning and the 2021 NWSL is on line for the two teams. The Reign’s goal scoring is led by Bethany Balcer and her nine goals. She has scored eight goals from the run of play and one on a corner. Eight of her nine goals have been shots taken first time, and she’s been lethal both on the ground and in the air, scoring four goals with her right and five with her head.