North Carolina Courage vs Reign FC Preview: Top of the Table Post World Cup Clash
The Courage's last loss came against Reign FC back on May 27 (photo via dirtysouthsoccer.com)

Now that the World Cup is over, we will gradually start to see teams in the National Women's Soccer League get back to full strength as players who represented their respective nations at the World Cup return over the coming weeks. While a few internationals will return this week, a majority of the internationals who's country went far in the tournament, will most likely be back next week. 

Reign Push to Continue Reign at the Top

Reign FC have not lost a match since a 3-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars on April 28. Over the course of those eight games since they've won five, drawn three, which included four clean sheets. Their defense has been the key to their success this season. So far, they've allowed multiple goals in a game just once, in their only loss of the season against Chicago. Their offence on the other hand hasn't been quite as stellar. They scored only two goals in their first four games of the season, and despite the fact they've scored in seven consecutive games, the fact of the matter is that they've only managed to score twelve goals over eleven games so far this season. Their defense as well as their offense will need to be firing on all cylinders if they want to take three points this weekend. 

INJURY REPORT

OUT: Jasmyne Spencer (SEI – Knee), Taylor Smith (SEI – Knee), Michelle Betos (SEI Achilles), Scout Watson (SEI Concussion), Darian Jenkins (Hamstring), Jaycie Johnson (SEI Knee), Jessica Fishlock (SEI Knee), Morgan Andrews (Hamstring), Rumi Utsugi (Calf), Stephanie Cox (Calf).

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Megan Rapinoe (USA), Allie Long (USA), Jodie Taylor (ENG).

The Reign will look to hold onto their top spot as they visit second place North Carolina (photo via reignfc.com)
The Reign will look to hold onto their top spot as they visit second place North Carolina (photo via reignfc.com)

Courage Aiming to Retake Top Spot

Ever since relocating from Rochester prior to the start of the 2017 season, the North Carolina Courage have been an absolute juggernaut of a team. They've won the Shield both seasons, and made the final in both seasons, winning the Championship last season. Things however have not been quite as straight-forward this season. So far they've spent nine weeks outside of first, that's three ties as many weeks than the last two seasons combined. That being said, they haven't been poor by any stretch of the imagination. They are currently the league's top goal-scoring team and sit one point out of first. Any other team when presented with the prospect of being at minimum second with a very real chance of being in first place at the halfway point would absolutely take it. North Carolina on the other hand have set the bar so high for themselves over the past two seasons that a loss against Reign FC would be seen by them as not necessarily a failure, but probably a big disappointment as it's really first or bust for them. 

INJURY REPORT

OUT: Hailey Harbison (Left Knee).

QUESTIONABLE: Abby Erceg (Right Lower Leg), Ryan Williams (Right Ankle), Julie King (Left Thigh).

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Abby Dahlkemper (USA), Crystal Dunn (USA), Jessica McDonald (USA), Samantha Mewis (USA).

The North Carolina Courage host Reign FC this Saturday, July 13, at 7:00 PM EST. The match will be streamed on Yahoo! Sports at this link, or on the Yahoo! Sports app. International viewers can watch on nwslsoccer.com.

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