NWSL Fall Series Preview: Week 7

This Saturday marks the last matchday of 2020 for the NWSL. Four teams will be looking to finish out their Fall Series play with three points.

The top two spots in the standings are already secured with the Portland Thorns landing in first and the Houston Dash finishing in second place. The North Carolina Courage and Washington Spirit are fighting for the third-place spot, the Courage control their own destiny with one game still to play.

Here is the final Fall Series preview and a player to watch for each team.

North Carolina Courage at Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride host the North Carolina Courage on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. ET on the CBS game of the week. The first meeting between these two teams at the Fall Series resulted in a 0-0 tie, the first time that the Courage has failed to score against the Pride.

North Carolina is looking for a top-three finish and to do that, they will need to win a high scoring lopsided affair. To jump over the Washington Spirit, they will need three points and a goal differential that is better than the Spirit’s +2. The last game for the Courage was a tough 4-1 loss to the Houston Dash. North Carolina struggled to do anything in the attack during that match, a problem the Courage usually doesn’t have.

Orlando will finish 2020 having played only four games, so there are still a lot of question marks about this team. Defensively they have played pretty well but they still sit with a record of 0-2-1. Last weekend they fell to the Houston Dash 2-1.

Players to Watch

Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage) – There is going to be an emphasis on the attack in this game with the Courage needing to win by four to secure a third-place finish. Williams is one of the best forwards in the league and has scored 40 goals for the Courage, including two in the Fall Series. Look for Williams to get a lot of shots on goal and possibly a couple of goals.

Courtney Petersen (Orlando Pride) – The rookie has been impressive on the backline for the Pride. She’s played every minute of the Fall Series and tallied 12 clearances. The UVA alum has also won six out of her eight attempted tackles. If the Pride look to pull out the win, Petersen and the backline will play an important factor.

Utah Royals at OL Reign

To finish out the NWSL Fall Series, OL Reign hosts the Utah Royals at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 17. Both of these teams will be looking for their first win in the Fall Series. In their last meeting, the Royals and Reign battled to a 2-2 draw.

Utah has played to two draws in a row after falling in their first match. They’ve shown promise but have been unable to put together a complete 90 minutes. In their last two matches, the Royals had a lead but gave up the equalizers. In the first meeting with OL Reign, Utah gave up a two-goal lead to only come away with one point. All three of Utah’s goals have come in the first half of play. Utah will look to get on the board early in this one and keep the lead.

OL Reign is coming off of an unlucky 1-2 loss to the Portland Thorns. The Reign gave up two questionable penalties in that one. Amber Brooks was able to get a goal back for the Reign but weren’t able to overcome the deficit.

Players to Watch

Aminata Diallo (Utah Royals) – Diallo is a new addition to the Royals for 2020 and she has been impressive for Utah. She’s scored a goal and started all three games in the Fall Series. Through 225 minutes, Diallo boasts an 86.8% passing success rate.

Shirley Cruz (OL Reign) – The Costa Rican international has been impressive in her short time with the Reign. Cruz has helped to improve the midfield and has provided two assists for OL Reign in the Fall Series.