NWSL weekend preview: Can Kerr's Red Stars breach Royals rearguard?

She strikes terror into any defence, but Westfield Matilda Sam Kerr will need to be at her clinical best to crack National Women's Soccer League outfit Utah Royals.

It is a case of one of the best forwards in America's top flight against one of its meanest defences when Kerr's Chicago Red Stars take on the Royals on Saturday morning.

Read on for a full preview of NWSL action.

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Utah Royals v Chicago Red Stars, Saturday 11:30am 

The defensive excellence of the Royals will be put to the test when Sam Kerr and Chicago Red Stars come calling.

Utah have built a reputation as one of the NWSL's toughest nuts to crack since their inaugural 2018 campaign.

And true to form, the Royals – who have Canberra United stalwart Rachel Corsie and US international Becky Sauerbrunn in the heart of their defence – have kicked off their campaign with 1-0 wins over Washington Spirit and Orlando Pride.

However, they must contend with the goal-scoring force that is Westfield Matildas superstar Kerr, whose Chicago team beat Reign FC on Monday for their first win of the season, which together with draws in their opening two matches leaves them third in the league ladder.

Kerr
Sam Kerr has opened her 2019 NWSL campaign with two goals in three matches

Washington Spirit v Reign FC, Sunday 9:00am 

Amy Harrison made her NWSL debut in last Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Utah, and she and Washington Spirit must pick themselves up against Reign on Sunday morning. Chloe Logarzo could be in line for her maiden Spirit appearance after being removed from the NWSL Injury Report.

Aussie shot stopper Lydia Williams received her first start of the season in Monday’s 3-0 loss to Chicago, while Elise Kellond-Knight made another bench cameo.  

Meanwhile, Steph Catley is still waiting for her first appearance of the campaign. She has missed Reign's opening first three matches with a calf injury.

Amy Harrison made her NWSL debut in last Sunday’s defeat to Utah Royals

North Carolina Courage v Sky Blue, Sunday 9:00am 

Sky Blue face a daunting trip to 2018 double-winners North Carolina in Sunday's other fixture.

After an opening day stalemate with Kerr's Chicago, the Courage have beaten Orlando Pride 5-0 and Houston Dash 4-1.

Sky Blue picked up their first points of the campaign in a 2-2 draw against Caitlin Foord, Ellie Carpenter and Hayley Raso's Portland Thorns on Monday. 

Caitlin Foord picked up an assist for Portland Thorns in their draw with Sky Blue

Houston Dash v Orlando Pride, Monday 8:00am 

There's no need to panic yet, but Orlando Pride will be desperate for maximum points against Houston Dash in Monday's fixture.

Having lost already to Portland, North Carolina and Utah, a 1-1 draw against Reign is the only point Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond's side have collected so far.

They’ve only scored one goal too – Kennedy’s exceptional overhead kick against Reign on April 22.

Orlando's only goal of the season – this bicycle kick from Alanna Kennedy

Perth Glory attacker Rachel Hill believes the floodgates are set to open, and the expected return of Brazilian superstar Marta will only enhance those chances.

Westfield Matildas Clare Polkinghorne and Kyah Simon of Houston can extend Orlando's misery, although they too enter the clash reeling after copping a 4-1 hiding from the Courage on Monday.

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Emily van Egmond of Orlando Pride (Pic: Jordan Culver-Pro Soccer USA)