Updated: Jan 1, 2020
The sixth NWSL season is only two weeks away, and hopefully it will be the best season yet. As we prepare for another year of highs and lows, a million questions buzz around: will the North Carolina Courage win the Shield again? Who will be hit hardest during the World Cup? Which players will get suspended for yellow card accumulation?
There are many questions that will be answered in the coming months. Here are the five questions that I am excited to see answered in 2019.
Who will be the best without their World Cup players?
The big event looming over the 2019 NWSL season is the World Cup. It will consume the time and energy of many starting players across the league, leaving room for non-national team players to step up to the plate. The absence of so much talent has the potential to really shift the league and impact the playoff race. But it could also be the chance that launches a career for a player not on the national team radar.
So often, we overlook the talent of players who aren’t on their respective national team. This will be their opportunity to show us why we shouldn’t underestimate them.
What impact will Vero Boquete have in Utah?
The attacking midfielder from Spain, who most recently played with PSG in France and Beijing BG Phoenix in China, is back in the NWSL for the first time since her 2014 stint with the Portland Thorns. I’m excited to see what Boquete will add on the pitch for the Utah Royals. Seeing her play alongside the likes of Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez is going to be fun and might be the boost they need to take Utah to the playoffs.
Will Sky Blue win a game this year?
The answer to this question should be simple: of course. And after a terrible 2018 season, I am looking forward to seeing Sky Blue win a game this year. Between their off-the-field situation and their on-the-field struggles, this is a team that will appreciate every point in 2019. It’s hard not to cheer for them, if only because of all the negative stuff they are forced to deal with. I’m looking forward to seeing them put up a fight, and maybe even lifting themselves up from the bottom of the table.
What will happen when Portland and the Reign clash?
I’m not a supporter of either Portland or the Reign, but this rivalry remains one of the best in American soccer. Last year, these two teams met four times, including in the semi-finals of the NWSL playoffs. Portland’s 3-1 victory over the Reign just before the playoffs was one of the best regular-season matches in 2018, and their semi-final game a week later lived up to the inevitable hype. Both teams have some of the best talent in the league, and when they face each other, fouls, yellow cards, and goals are abundant. They will likely be missing a lot of their superstars for their first match on July 5th, but they’ll play two more times in Tacoma towards the end of the season.
Who is going to beat North Carolina?
North Carolina was unstoppable last year, and the team appears to have only gotten better in the offseason. I think they are the clear choice to win the Shield again, but maybe we will be surprised? Will someone challenge the Courage for the title, or will it be a runaway again? It will be fun to see how the World Cup impacts this team, and whether or not they finish No. 1 at the end of the year.