It doesn’t always work this way, but we are well and truly blessed to have two fascinating NWSL semifinals. If you’re the type that wants to see two teams with similar strengths go at it, then boy do I have a game for you. If, however, you’re into a more analytical chess match, then boy do I have a game for you. Basically what I’m saying is turn your dang television to CBS Sports Network at 5pm ET this Sunday and don’t move until it’s all over
Portland and San Diego are loaded with everything needed to get to the Championship game. Both teams have goalscoring superstars in Alex Morgan and Sophia Smith, dominant defenders in Naomi Girma and Becky Sauerbrunn, overperforming rookies in Jaedyn Shaw (and Girma) and Sam Coffey, dominant goalkeepers in Kailen Sheridan and Bella Bixby, and a host of complementary players who play their roles extremely well but can also dazzle when shown an opportunity.
The one advantage Portland has is rest, and it’s likely to be a true advantage since San Diego had to play an extra 30 minutes to get through their quarterfinal. However, if you believe in things like momentum, a late match winning goal is far better than any sort of boost that can be gained on training pitches.
Either way, this match could feature a shootout between Smith and Morgan, a battle between two versatile midfields, or goalkeeper duel. I have no idea which way this match is going to go I just want it to kickoff now. Please?
Whereas the first semifinal is tantamount to a heavyweight bout, this one will be for the purists. As mentioned above, Kansas City has learned to excel without the ball, whereas OL Reign love it, crave it, need it, can never have enough of it.
The teams have faced each other twice in the regular season, each winning 1-0. NWSL Shield winners OL Reign have a talented attacking roster that can create chance after chance. Kansas City has a God-mode goalkeeper who can make save after save. One of Reign’s most consistent problems has been putting the ball in the back of the net, particularly in relation to the chances they create. According to American Soccer Analysis, OL Reign (42) were the only team among the four highest scorers in the league to underperform their team xG (42.96).
That doesn’t seem like much, but the Reign scored 16 goals in their last seven matches, including five in their final two. This could mean that they’ve found a solution, but if it’s not airtight, there isn’t a more frustrating opponent to face than the Kansas City Current.