North Carolina Courage 2, Orlando Pride 2.
Prediction: Both teams have qualified for the playoffs and the Courage have already picked up the NWSL Shield as well. All that will be on the line is a final home win for North Carolina or a good result heading into the playoffs for the Orlando Pride. Due to this, I expect both Paul Riley and Tom Sermanni, head coaches of the Courage and the Prides respectively, to utilize their roster and rest some key names in preparation for the playoffs which means that a draw is the more likely result.
Projected Lineup for Orlando Pride: Harris; Kreiger, Pressley, Mônica, Catley; Weatherholt, Kennedy; Fields, Marta, Spencer; Morgan.
Projected Lineup for NC Courage: Rowland; Smith, Dahlkemper, Erceg, Hinkle; Hamilton, Mewis, Zerboni; Doniak, Williams, Hatch.
Match officials assigned for this game are as follows; Farhad Dadkho will be the center official, Jeffrey Skinker and TJ Zablocki will be the assistant referees and Gregory Brigman will be the fourth official.
The match will be played at Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, North Carolina on September 30th, 2017. The game will kick off at 7:30 PM EST and will be broadcast on go90 and nwslsoccer.com.
Although Orlando may have the weaker backline, expect there to be goals in this game if both teams look to end this season off on a high note. Both teams have great attacking players in their ranks and those players can cause any defense problems on their day.
For Orlando to get a result, not only this weekend but in the playoffs as well, they will look to Alex Morgan, Marta and Camila. Morgan and Marta have found a fantastic partnership on the field which has helped propel the Pride up the table and into the playoffs. After returning from her time in Europe and covering from injury, Morgan has picked up nine goals in 12 appearances, while Marta 12 goals in 22 appearances. The two superstars are undoubtedly proficient in front of goal and will need to be again to achieve all the aims that Orlando have for this season. They have been ably assisted by Camila who has proven to be a great acquisition for Orlando this season. The Brazilian international has four goals and five assists so far and her play from midfield has allowed the likes of Marta and Morgan to shine.
On the other side of the ball this Saturday will be the Orlando Pride. After a seemingly slow and inconsistent start to the season, the Pride found their momentum in July and have not looked back since, pushing themselves into the playoffs for the first time in their history. Tom Sermanni has seemingly found the right players and the right system this season to help his team pick up results and also deal with any injuries along the way as well. The Pride have scored 42 goals and conceded 29 in the 23 games they have played and those statistics show their strength and weakness. Going forward, Orlando are prolific but they have not managed to shore up their backline as well as Sermanni would like and they will be looking to address that before the playoffs begin.
With the firepower of Lynn Williams and the midfield play of Samantha Mewis, the Courage have the right players to go on and become the first team win both the NWSL Shield and the NWSL Championship in the same season. Williams may not have been as prolific as she was in previous seasons, with only seven goals this season, but her threat can not be understated. She makes it easier for the rest of her team to get into the penalty area because her presence draws so much attention and it’s allowed the likes of Ashley Hatch to have a great debut season in the NWSL. Behind the strikers is Mewis who has taken a game up another level this season and cemented her place as one of the best midfielders in the league. The US international has six goals and three assists this season but it’s her overall play that has been most impressive. Her vision and passing has allowed the team to move forward well from their backline and into their opponents’ boxes for most of the season and she has remained a key component to everything that the NC Courage have accomplished this season.
The NC Courage have managed to make the playoffs once again and this time, as the NWSL Shield winners this season. So far this season, they picked up 16 wins in 23 games, scoring 36 goals and conceding just 19 goals. They have almost undoubtedly been the best team in the NWSL and have continued to thrive under Paul Riley‘s management. The onus now will be on them to break the so-called “Shield curse” which has seen all the previous winners of it reach the final, but ultimately fail at the last hurdle.
With a playoff spot already secured for both teams, the NC Courage and the Orlando Pride will be looking to end the regular season on a good note and also gain momentum for the playoff games. The two teams are set to meet in the semi-final round of the NWSL Playoffs if the Pride don’t get anything more than a win, and so, this could be an opportunity to see how either team will fare in a week’s time when more is on the line.
Hello everyone and welcome to the final round of games in the National Women’s Soccer League regular season. This live update will be on the game between the North Carolina Courage and the Orlando Pride. I’m your host, Kudzi Musarurwa, and I will be keeping you updated with everything from this game.
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