Week one is in the books for the NWSL, and by and large, it looked like a promising start for the third coming of a top tier women's soccer league in North America. It was a mixed bag for the league's Canadian contingent, some stuck watching on the sidelines while others were lighting it up on the field. Some got a few lucky penalties, while others made a mark for themselves.
Will this trend continue? Let's take a look at this weekend's three match ups, with both Sky Blue FC (the only team to win last weekend) and Chicago Red Stars on the bye...
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Washington Spirit vs. Western New York Flash
Saturday April 20, 7pm ET, Maryland SoccerPlex (Boyds, MD)
If the Spirit's defence thought their job was tough last week to keep Sydney Leroux quiet, then they've got a whole different thing coming with the Flash this weekend. Robyn Gayle was steady at the centre back position last week for the Spirit, and paired with Ali Krieger was largely successful in keeping Leroux quiet. This week, however, the challenge is not just Abby Wambach, but the dark horse in Spanish striker Adriana Martin. With Candace Chapman likely still a few weeks away, the partnership of Gayle and Krieger will likely have to shoulder the burden of defending them.
Up front for the Spirit, Diana Matheson and #1 draft pick Tiffany McCarty formed a neat attacking duo, with the former getting a goal out of the deal. Matheson again is known for her wily exploits, and with a defensive line that showed some of its flaws in the Flash's loss to Sky Blues last week, could this be the continuation of a dangerous partnership? And will that also mean a potential start for young Bryanna McCarthy? It will likely boil down to what risks Aaran Lines is willing to take in the Flash's defence.
And let's not forget Jodi-Ann Robinson, whose second half substitution almost turned the game on its head, and proved to be quite dangerous with her three chances. It likely won't give her a start, but she'll likely see game time coming off the bench again.
Projected Canadian starters: Gayle, Matheson (WAS)
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FC Kansas City vs. Boston Breakers
This game has been postponed as the Breakers are unable to leave the Boston area due to recent events. A make-up date for this match is yet to be announced by the NWSL.
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Portland Thorns vs. Seattle Reign
Sunday April 21, 2pm PT (5pm ET), Jeld-Wen Field
The Cascadian Derby has rolled into the NWSL, with this game being the first of four encounters this season between the Thorns and the Reign. Both sides have pieces that are still floating about around the world, including Seattle's Tiffany Cameron, who is still away for another couple weeks. But both sides have coped well so far -- so think of this one as an amuse-bouche for the three clashes that are yet to come.
Kaylyn Kyle, for one, proved last week that she could be play a huge role in the Seattle set up this season, garnering chances against the Red Stars and making a nuisance of herself in the Windy City. Emily Zurrer was also steady in the defense -- so it's likely both of them will get the call to start again for the visiting Reign, and not because all of Seattle's big names are still unavailable. Sinclair and Karina LeBlanc are likely to be starters for the home side, who is expecting a large turnout for their first game at Jeld-Wen Field. Even if the big names aren't all there, expect fireworks...especially between the Canadians.
Projected Canadian starters: LeBlanc, Sinclair (PDX), Zurrer, Kyle (SEA)