NWSL West Week 13 Preview

OL continues their road trip Tuesday before returning home on the weekend, Portland and San Diego get to enjoy home matches, and Angel City leaves the comfort of home for the east coast. 

By Taylor Vincent

The second half of the season really starts to kick into gear this week with five matches coming for the four west teams. OL starts the midweek action off with a Tuesday matchup against Racing Louisville on the road. Portland will kick off the weekend play hosting North Carolina on Friday night in Providence Park. It’ll be a busy Sunday as San Diego plays Kansas City at home, defending their post atop the table, OL returns home while Houston comes to town, and Angel City takes on the Pride in Orlando. 

The San Diego Wave celebrate Jaedyn Shaw’s goal / San Diego Wave FC

OL’s quick turnaround

OL Reign vs. Racing Louisville – Tuesday, August 2 at 8 P.M. ET (Paramount +) 

OL Reign vs. Houston Dash – Sunday, August 7 at 6 P.M. ET (Paramount +) 

Following what can only be called a Hollywood moment in their big 3–2 comeback win Saturday night, OL will be flying directly to Louisville to prepare for their Tuesday faceoff against Racing Louisville. The Reign have struggled this year gritting out wins on the road and will be looking to keep their momentum as they head into the midweek game and then back home Sunday to face the Houston Dash. Racing Louisville is coming off a rough loss to Portland in Week 12 that could have easily been a tie or even a Racing win if not for some amazing saves in goal against them. Also considering that Racing hasn’t won a game since late May, expect them to come out firing against OL on Tuesday as they continue their three-game home stretch. As a reminder, head coach Laura Harvey did confirm after the Angel City match that forward Bethany Balcer would not be available for the Tuesday night matchup. 

Looking toward the weekend, it is unlikely Houston Dash will have captain Rachel Daly back after winning the Women’s European Championship this past Sunday with England, but the Dash as of late have still been very dangerous in her absence. They are currently sitting third in the table and are known for their highly physical matches. With the three matches in eight days for the Reign, expect to see a little more rotation in the lineups and substitutes than normal. Even with the likely needed rotation, OL’s depth has been one its greatest strengths this season so the team shouldn’t miss a step. Additionally, there is some bad news to the depth of the OL midfield as Brazilian Angelina left the Copa America Femenina final with a ruptured ACL and lateral meniscus; she will likely show up on the SEI list officially this week. 

Alana Cook sending the ball forward / Taylor Vincent

Keep an eye on Alana Cook for the Reign this week. Even after missing three games while representing the USWNT at the Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers, Cook is still leading the Reign in interceptions at 19, and second in headed clearances at 15. She’ll be pivotal in keeping the aggressive Racing press at bay this week. 

Portland returns to Providence Park

Portland Thorns vs. North Carolina Courage – Friday, August 5 at 10:30 P.M. ET (CBSSN) 

Coming off a win which could have easily been a tie or even a loss against Racing, Portland will need to take this week and try to return to the ‘consistency of performance’ that coach Rhian Wilkinson has been talking about all season. Canadian national team players Janine Beckie and Christine Sinclair did not travel with the team to Louisville, likely still recovering from the minutes and heat through Concacaf. Hopefully, fans will be able to see them get some minutes at home against North Carolina. Although the Courage currently sit at the bottom of the NWSL table, they are not to be overlooked. They did win the 2022 Challenge Cup and have shown glimpses of brilliance through the last few games. Additionally, Portland might need to contend with the return of both Debinha and Kerolin, hot off their ​​Copa America Femenina championship win on Saturday. 

Becky Sauerbrunn switching the field / Taylor Vincent

The player to watch for Portland this week is Becky Sauerbrunn. It’s easy to forget that in mid-March Sauerbrunn had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in her right knee, and yet she has still started eight matches for the Thorns and started a number for the USWNT during the Concacaf Championship. The leadership she brings to the pitch along with the added depth as we head into the second half of the season will be important to the Thorns. Even with the limited games, Sauerbrunn still is third on the team in headed clearances and fifth in possession won. 

Angel City heads to Orlando

Angel City FC vs. Orlando Pride – Sunday, August 7 at 7 P.M. ET (Paramount +) 

After a devastating loss against OL in front of a sold-out home crowd, Angel City will head on the road to face Orlando on Sunday. As far as injuries go, on the plus side, Jasmyne Spencer is officially in her return to play phase and got a little over 48 minutes in the OL match. If training this week goes well, she should be expected to get even more time come next weekend. Unfortunately, Vanessa Gilles still has the same injury she had before the Concacaf tournament, so she missed the match against OL but is expected to be back on the list of available players in the next 1-2 games. After the OL loss, head coach Freya Coombe said, ‘Defensively we have to be able to compact the space between our lines, especially when playing against a talented midfield.’ Angel City should be making that a focal point for the match against Orlando. 

DiDi Haracic pokes the ball just wide of the goal / Taylor Vincent

The player to watch for Angel City this week is DiDi Haracic. Haracic had 9 saves in the match against the Reign and her fantastic performance in goal kept Angel City in the match until the end, including a penalty save in first-half stoppage time. She also is second among NWSL goalkeepers in terms of total clearances.

San Diego looks to continue building at home

San Diego Wave vs. Kansas City Current – Sunday, August 7 at 5 P.M. ET (Paramount +)

The Wave return to San Diego this upcoming weekend after hanging onto a win against Chicago where they had to play a third of the match a player down after the Abby Dahlkemper red card in the 58th minute. Dahlkemper’s red card means that she will have to sit out against Kansas City in order to fulfill her suspension. Kansas City is currently sixth in the table but is also on an eight-game unbeaten streak after coming back from a 2-nil deficit against Orlando to tie on Sunday. 

The player to watch for San Diego this week is Jaedyn Shaw. The 17-year-old Shaw made her professional debut this past weekend for the Wave and additionally had the game-winning goal. Shaw had previously been practicing with the Washington Spirit before entering the discovery process, where San Diego claimed her rights. After the two teams were unable to agree on terms of a trade, Shaw signed with San Diego on August 18th and after San Diego’s 7-day mandated break ended; she only had a week of practice with the team before earning the start. After the match, head coach Casey Stoney spoke of Shaw, “That finish was exceptional, the chop back like that, she finished it so calm and composed, nothing really phased her. For a debut, 17 years old, I’m so pleased with her. She’s a fantastic addition to our roster.”

This week’s matches begin Tuesday, August 2nd. Check out the full schedule here.

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