NWSL weekend preview: What's in store for your Westfield Matildas?
The stage is set for an all-star Australian cast to shine in what could be the game of the National Women's Soccer League season.
Hayley Raso, Ellie Carpenter and Caitlin Foord of Portland Thorns are preparing for the arrival of Westfield Matildas teammate Sam Kerr and her Chicago Red Stars side in a top-two clash sure to shock-waves across the United States.
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Competition leaders Portland hold a four-point advantage over Kerr’s second-placed Chicago ahead of the Monday morning blockbuster, and a Thorns victory could be a potentially fatal blow for the Red Stars with just six match weeks of the campaign remaining.
Portland cannot afford to drop points either, given reigning double winners North Carolina Courage are breathing down their necks and would overtake them in first place should they win both their two matches in hand.
All signs point toward a cracker at Providence Park on Monday morning, with kick off at 5:00am AEST.
Catley to the rescue?
The four Westfield Matildas involved in Portland’s clash with Chicago on Monday will be hoping Aussie teammate and Reign FC stalwart Steph Catley can do them a huge favour by taking points from North Carolina.
Reign, who currently sit outside the NWSL top four in fifth spot, have a daunting away trip to North Carolina on Sunday morning at 5:00am.
A win for the Seattle-based club would see them leapfrog Utah Royals in the fourth and last Final series position.
The chasing pack
It’s approaching now or never time for Washington Spirit and Orlando Pride.
The seventh and eighth placed teams face off on Sunday morning at 9:30am requiring a victory to maintain their hopes of securing a spot in the Final series.
Washington Spirit – who have Westfield Matildas Chloe Logarzo, Amy Harrison and Elise Kellond-Knight on their books - are six points adrift of fourth-placed Utah, and enter the fixture with a draw and three losses from their last four outings.
Orlando, meanwhile, will be buoyed following their massive upset win over Chicago Red Stars on Thursday, but they'll be without Alanna Kennedy after her red card in the midweek 2-1 win.
A loss for the Pride will almost certainly bring an end to their marginal top four hopes, given they are fourteen points shy of the Final series spots.
And, in Sunday’s third and final encounter, Kyah Simon and Houston Dash welcome Sky Blue to the BBVA Compass Stadium also looking to keep their Final series tilt alive.
The Dash are placed sixth, on the same amount of as points as Washington, and are two wins shy of a top four berth.