NWSL weekend preview: What's in store for your Westfield Matildas
Three Westfield Matildas have America’s top prize in their sights.
But the margin for error grows slimmer by the week for Australian stars Hayley Raso, Ellie Carpenter and Caitlin Foord of Portland Thorns.
Portland, fresh from their 3-0 triumph over Sam Kerr’s Chicago Red Stars on Monday August 26, have a five-point lead atop the National Women’s Soccer League table ahead of Saturday morning’s clash with Utah Royals (kick-off 11:30am).
Mark Parsons’ side can ill afford to slip up against fourth-placed Utah, one of the competition’s best drilled outfits, given that second-placed North Carolina Courage have two matches in hand on the current frontrunners.
To ramp up the pressure levels even higher on Portland, the Oregon-based club play reigning double-winners Courage – in action against Sky Blue FC on Sunday morning - next Thursday in a match that could likely decide the outcome of the 2019 title race.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Westfield Matildas to play Chile in two-match series in November
THE CAITLIN FOORD SHOW: The last time the Westfield Matildas played Chile
'13 YEARS IN THE MAKING': Social media reaction to the Westfield Matildas' big news
Sam Kerr and Mackenzie Arnold’s Red Stars will be hungry to atone from that 3-0 defeat to Portland, and a home match with Houston Dash Monday morning (8am AEST) could be just the platform for Chicago to show they’re not slipping away from title contention without a fight.
The Red Stars are seven points away from ladder-leading Thorns, and know anything less than three points against Kyah Simon’s seventh-placed Dash would see their title dreams fade away.
Elsewhere, Steph Catley and Reign FC can bolster their Finals series bid and all but end the faint hopes of Alanna Kennedy’s Orlando Pride when those two meet on Sunday lunchtime (12pm kick off AEST).
Catley’s side were pipped 1-0 by North Carolina last time out, a result which leaves Reign one point outside the top four.
Kennedy scored a sensational bicycle kick in April’s fixture between the pair, which ended 1-1.