The National Women's Soccer League returns this week after taking a weekend off due to the FIFA international break. These are the headlines we're following from each team as we go into week 3.
Chicago Red Stars (0-1-1): Injuries continue to plague the team
Another week and the injury report for the Chicago Red Stars looks about the same as it did for the previous two weeks. The only exception is Yuki Nagasato who was not on this week's injury report. But Chicago continues to be without core players Vanessa DiBernardo (stress fracture pelvis – D45), Julie Ertz (right knee sprain), Casey Short (right ankle sprain – D45), and Rosie White (right and left navicular fracture – D45) due to injuries. Short's ankle sprain she suffered against France at SheBelieves Cup is far more serious than originally reported.
For a team to be missing these many core players due to injuries this early in the season is concerning for a team like the Red Stars, especially as they go into a major game of the week against the Utah Royals.
Houston Dash (0-0-2): Bye week
The Houston Dash is the team this week with a bye, but their play so far has been better than expected, and their defense has been well-organized under Vera Pauw. They held the Utah Royals to a scoreless draw in week 2 and had it not been for a late goal for Chicago on opening weekend, they would be with four points instead of two.
North Carolina Courage (2-0-0): Courage sign defender Cari Roccaro and midfielder Sarah Teegarden
This week, the North Courage Courage added Roccaro, who spent her 2017 season with the Houston Dash as well as the 2018 preseason. She played in 18 games in 2017 for 1,500 minutes for the Houston club.
Teegarden, the Wake Forest alum, has trained with the team since the 2018 preseason. She will be on the squad as a National Team Replacement player while midfielder Debinha is on international duty with Brazil in the 2018 Copa America tournament in Chile.
Speaking of Debinha, per various sources, the Brazil federation has complained to FIFA about Debinha playing with North Carolina on March 31. Per FIFA rules, all Brazilian players were to be released by NWSL clubs ahead of the World Cup qualifying tournament, Copa América Femenina. The Courage could face a penalty for not releasing Debinha.
Orlando Pride (0-1-1): Pride to take on Portland Thorns
The Orlando Pride return to Providence Park to take on the Thorns who ended their 2017 magical season last October.
Additionally, Orlando will be without Brazilian international Marta, who is with her national team. Alex Morgan will return to the starting lineup after missing the week 2 matchup against Washington Spirit due to concussion protocol. The Pride will be glad to have Morgan back after that 2-0 loss to Washington.
Portland Thorns (1-1-0): Thorns set for home opener; Tobin Heath & Emily Menges still sidelined with injuries
After two games on the road, Portland Thorns FC will return to their stronghold at Providence Park for their home opener. Per usual, Portland expects a packed stadium, especially since it will be the first game back after their NWSL Championship triumph. We can expect for that to be celebrated on Sunday.
Head coach Mark Parsons also provided an update this past week of Emily Menges and Tobin Heath. They are unlikely to play against Orlando.
Seattle Reign FC (1-0-0): How good are the Reign?
They have only played one game, a 2-1 win, but if what we saw in week 1 is a sign of things to come from this team now led by Vlatko Andonovski, then this team will be the one to beat in 2018.
I'm still believing that Seattle Reign FC is the team to win the NWSL Championship come September.
Sky Blue FC (0-1-0): Hackensack Meridian Health returns in as the title sponsor of the club
For the fifth year in a row, the New Jersey-based health organizations will sponsor Sky Blue FC, remaining as the official medical provider of the team and partnering with the team for community and philanthropic initiatives.
Sky Blue FC will also kick off their home opener on Sunday with Carli Lloyd playing in her home state.
Utah Royals FC (0-0-2): Royals sell out home opener; Amy Rodriguez removed from the injury list
In a major accomplishment for a team who came about in just 5 months, the Utah Royals FC have sold 18,500+ tickets to their home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Royals are set to take on the Chicago Red Stars for the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime.
Nearly a year after tearing her ACL, Amy Rodriguez could return to the field this Saturday. On Friday, Rodriguez was removed from the injury report. She started the season on the D-45 list as her recovery continued.
Washington Spirit (1-1-0): Spirit hosts first-place North Carolina Courage
Coming off a 2-0 shutout of the Orlando Pride in its home opener on March 31, the Washington Spirit will host North Carolina. The Courage has not allowed a goal through its first two games, the only team in the NWSL to not do so.
Mallory Pugh was voted NWSL Player of the Week for her goal that set the pace for the Spirit to clinch their first victory of the season.