NWSL Fall Series: Courage seek top-three finish; three teams eye first win heading into final weekend
The 2020 NWSL Fall Series will conclude this weekend with two matches on Saturday. In the South pod, the Orlando Pride will host the North Carolina Courage and in the West pod, OL Reign will welcome the Utah Royals FC.
Third place in the Community Shield is in play after the Portland Thorns locked up the top prize and the Houston Dash secured the second place. All NWSL Fall Series games this weekend can be streamed on CBS All Access. Here’s the upcoming slate:
NWSL Fall Series weekend schedule
Saturday, Oct. 17
Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage, 4 p.m. ET (CBS)OL Reign vs. Utah Royals FC, 8 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
Before play picks back up on Saturday, let’s take a closer look at each team in action.
Utah Royals FC
The club has had to endure some coaching rotation on the administrative side of things due to ongoing investigations surrounding owner Dell Loy Hansen. A separate investigation into the Royals coaching staff placed Amy LePeilbet as interim head coach at the start of Fall Series. The club is currently searching for its win in the competition after dropping its opening match and earning two draws.
The team has been able to walk away with two points while showcasing some strong individual performances on thanks to rookie Tziarra King, who has cracked the starting lineup for all three matches and has scored a goal in the process. Veteran forward Amy Rodriguez also has one goal to her name in three matches played. The team has an opportunity to close things out with a win over OL Reign.
This side is somewhat snakebit in front of goal when you compare their Fall Series campaign to their Challenge Cup matches. OL Reign coach Farid Benstiti has committed to establishing his team’s shape and formation throughout games in 2020 while working with first-year players and players returning from injury.
Forward Bethany Balcer has shown she can still connect under pressure and Costa Rican international Shirley Cruz has impressed with her starts in the midfield in 2020. All the team is missing it its first Fall Series win.
North Carolina Courage
The team entered the Fall Series with several key players opting out of the competition. The club still has had Debinha, Lynn Williams and Abby Dahlkemper available throughout their matches. They put themselves in position to remain competitive and have a top-three finish in sight as they approach their final match against Orlando Pride.
The team has chosen to play for local nonprofit 321 Coffee in the 2020 Community Shield. The mission of 321 Coffee provides meaningful employment for adults with IDD (intellectual or developmental disabilities) and to model inclusion for other businesses to follow. They will need a high-scoring lopsided win over Orlando Pride if they’re to leap over Washington Spirit in the standings.
The Pride have had a tumultuous journey throughout 2020 that saw their withdrawal from the Challenge Cup in light of the pandemic and their eventual return to play during the Fall Series. The Pride have two losses and a draw in their three matches in this competition, and believe it or not, they are still searching for their first win in the calendar year.
With a little window of matches at his disposal, Pride coach Marc Skinner has expressed that these matches are being used for evaluation both in potential talent and team personality as they look to ultimately turn the corner and establish a new cultural and tactical identity on the pitch. We could be witnessing the right personnel with strong individual performances in defender Carrie Lawrence and backup goalkeeper Brittany Wilson.