North Carolina Courage vs Sky Blue FC preview: Top two teams battle for three points

North Carolina Courage started their innuagural season undefeated through four games, but fell the last two games. Sky Blue looks to add another loss to the Courage's record, while extending their win streak.

North Carolina Courage vs Sky Blue FC preview: Top two teams battle for three points
North Carolina Courage hosts Sky Blue FC for a midweek match up.

After a big Sky Blue FC win at home the team will travel to North Carolina to face the North Carolina Courage. This game will kickoff Week 7 of NWSL play on Wednesday at 7:30 Cary, North Carolina at Wakemed Soccer Park. At the conclusion of Week 6 the Courage and Sky Blue sit in the first and second spot of the NWSL standings, respectively. The Courage were undefeated in their first four games of the season, but lost in week 5 to the Orlando Pride and in week 6 to the Chicago Red Stars. Sky Blue has a record of 3-2-1.

Killion leads the Sky Blue attack

Sky Blue’s Sarah Killion is the current league’s leading goal scorer. Killion has buried all 4 of Sky Blue’s awarded penalties. Killion and Sky Blue have scored 10 goals this season, the second most in the league. Killion buried a penalty kick this past weekend against the Houston Dash. Also scoring in Sky Blue’s second home win was 2016 NWSL Rookie of the Year, Raquel Rodriguez. Sam Kerr, Leah Galton, and Kelley O’Hara have also scored for Sky Blue totaling the five goal scorers for the team this season.

Rodriguez and Kerr celebrating Kerr's goal against Houston in week 5 l Photo: Trask Smith/
Rodriguez and Kerr celebrating Kerr's goal against Houston in week 5 l Photo: Trask Smith/

Young but talented defense

On the other side Sky Blue has only allowed 8 goals this season. Sky Blue’s rookie goalkeeper, Kailen Sheridan, has skill and composure beyond her years. After being drafted No. 23 overall out of Clemson University by Sky Blue, Sheridan has started in all 6 games. Week after week the Canadian goalkeeper calmly directs her backline. While Sky Blue is home to veteran, Christie Pearce, the rest of the defenders are young, but you would not know that from how they play. Week six’s starters: Erin Simon, Mandy Freeman, Christie Pearce, and Erica Skroski, with the exception of Pearce are all under 24 years of age.

Rough week 5 and 6

The former Western New York Flash have taken quite well to their new home in Cary, North Carolina. The Courage were unbeaten through the first four weeks of NWSL play beating the Washington Spirit, the Portland Thorns, the Orlando Pride, and the Boston Breakers. However the tide changed in week 5 when the Courage faced the Pride in Orlando and lost 3-1. After their first loss of the season the Courage returned to North Carolina to host the Chicago Red Stars. By halftime of that game the Red Stars were up 3-0, the Courage could only rally one goal from birthday girl, Lynn Williams.

Jess McDonald in the back

Something that came as a surprise to everyone on Sunday was Paul Riley’s placement of Jess McDonald. McDonald traditionally plays up top next to Lynn Williams, and the two have proven to be a dangerous pair in the attack. Riley played a 3-5-2 formation against the Red Stars with McDonald at right back, next to Abby Dahlkemper. While no one is entirely sure why McDonald started the game in the back, it could have been to attempt to keep up with Red Star’s forward, Christen Press. While not to say McDonald is not good at defending, the attack surely missed her.

Looking for a win to start Week 7

Both teams are coming into Wednesday’s game with little rest since their games just two and three days out from Wednesday. However, both teams are hungry for a win. The Courage want to break their two game losing streak, and Sky Blue FC want to continue their two game win streak.

If Sky Blue tops the Courage one Wednesday they will claim the top spot in league standings, as the two teams are only separated by two points. Week Seven’s midweek action can be watched on the NWSL website as well as the go90 app and website. Both teams are back in action at the end of the week on Saturday when the Courage take on the Red Stars at Chicago and Sky Blue takes on the Pride at home.