Anything Can Happen When The Ball Is Rolling
The 2018 NWSL season will be dramatic. We can assume certain teams will be great and great players will entertain. Some events will surprise us throughout the warmer months. These bold proclamations have valid reasons for a teams' failures or success.
UTAH ROYALS FC OR SKY BLUE FC WILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS
The league is more attacking judging from last year. Utah Royals FC could climb into top four by applying a good defense they had for two seasons. Coupled with Canadian midfielders Maegan Kelly five goals last season and the stability of Dianna Matheson, the Royals could be difficult to beat playing a mile high in Sandy, Utah.
We saw a glimpse of what Utah could do in the first game of last season with Amy Rodriquez. In the NWSL world of attacking soccer, we may have Utah Royals FC playing the role of Athletico Madrid.
Sky Blue will surprise people, not their fans though. They watch the victories against championship teams and loses to squads beneath them. Sky Blue has experience in a young backline. Carli Lloyd can provide width for Daphne Corboz and Raquel Rodriquez.
The biggest shock is the forward position will carry on without Samantha Kerr. Newly acquired Shea Groom and Adrianna Leon can bring in enough goals to still make the forward spot a threat.
THE ORLANDO PRIDE WILL NOT MAKE THE PLAYOFFS
Orlando can't play end to end soccer and expect the final whistle to blow. The Pride needs to show moments of defensive resolve this season. Teams like Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC defenses had improved. They're just as good offensively as Orlando.
PORTLAND WILL BE IN A FIGHT FOR THEIR PLAYOFF LIVES
Chicago has Samantha Kerr. North Carolina has Crystal Dunn.Where is Portland's big-time striker? Samantha can add more goals to the 33 Chicago had last year.
Crystal Dunn can play keep-a-way to decrease Portland 37 goals scored in their championship run. Any third place team will be nervous worrying about the four squads below them. The Thorns were the first team the win the offseason since NWSL's creation. Are their deals a stroke of genius or an act of desperation?
THE CHICAGO RED STARS WILL WIN THE NWSL CHAMPIONSHIP
Desperately close for three years, the Red Stars traded Christen Press for Samantha Kerr what for Kerr can do: score game-winning goals. The spine goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, defender Casey Short, midfielder Julie Ertz and Kerr is the strongest in the league.
Chicago has no dilemmas complicating them from the NWSL trophy. Kerr can easily adjust to long time manager Rory Dames system. The North Carolina Courage and Chicago will challenge each other for the number one spot.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER-CRYSTAL DUNN-NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE
Jessica McDonald and Lynn Williams will give Crystal the freedom use her world-class footwork to create goals and assists.
GOLDEN BOOT-SAMANTHA KERR-SKY BLUE FC
As stated earlier. Kerr doesn't need to adapt to Dames' style of play. Rory Dames has cultivated a squad familiar with each other through three semifinals. Kerr needs to score for fun and more importantly to get into the championship game.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR-DENISE REDDY-SKY BLUE FC
First-year manager Reddy will stabilize a Sky Blue team who would be victorious over championship teams and lose against teams beneath them. Reddy could implement a possession game she learned as an assistant at Washington. Manager Denise Reddy's accomplishment for coach of the year would be to get Sky Blue into the playoffs for the first time in five years.
PROJECTED 2018 NWSL STANDINGS
1. NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE
2. CHICAGO RED STARS
3. PORTLAND THORNS FC
4. SKY BLUE FC
5. SEATTLE REIGN FC
6. UTAH ROYALS FC
7. ORLANDO PRIDE
8. WASHINGTON SPIRIT
9. HOUSTON DASH