North Carolina Courage vs Seattle Reign preview: Attacking heavyweights collide

First plays third in this key National Women's Soccer League matchup

North Carolina Courage vs Seattle Reign preview: Attacking heavyweights collide
Seattle Reign celebrate in their last match | Source: NWSL Soccer

Perhaps the most intriguing National Women’s Soccer League matchup of this coming weekend comes on Saturday when the North Carolina Courage host the resurgent Seattle Reign.

North Carolina sit top of the pile coming into this round of games, and they boast an impressive wealth of attacking talent - draftee Ashley Hatch, Brazilian import Debinha, and last year’s Golden Boot winner Lynn Williams have all contributed three goals so far, and the team lead the league in both shots and shots on goal.

Despite this though it’s their opponents Seattle who have found the back of the net most times this season with an impressive average of two goals a game. Their frontline is being led by Megan Rapinoe, who’s scored nine in 12 this year - including two in the Reign’s last match, a 2-0 victory over the Portland Thorns in the Cascadia rivalry.

Megan Rapinoe (right) scored a brace in Seattle's last match | Source: NWSL Soccer
Megan Rapinoe (right) scored a brace in Seattle's last match | Source: NWSL Soccer

This is the first meeting between these the sides this year, and thus the first with North Carolina under their current guise. As the Western New York Flash the record between the two teams was very close, the Reign just edging it 5-3-4 all-time.

Courage needing the win

After dropping a 1-0 result to Sky Blue FC in their last match, North Carolina’s lead at the top of the table is just one point and they could even be in second-place by the time their match kicks off if the Chicago Red Stars are able to get a point at the Boston Breakers on Friday night. The Courage have already lost the series tiebreak to the Red Stars so keeping their noses in front is crucial, especially as they have a number of tough games coming up, facing the Reign three times and a trip to the Thorns in their next five matches.

Williams is yet to return from an ankle injury suffered in USWNT training last month, but Hatch has taken over the goalscoring role pretty seamlessly so far, and they’ll need her to be on form if they want to take the win.

Ashley Hatch will be key if the Courage want all three points | Source: Equalizer Soccer
Ashley Hatch will be key if the Courage want all three points | Source: Equalizer Soccer

Reign on a roll

After a really unpredictable first couple of months to the season, the Reign are now unbeaten in their last four, and coming into the match on a massive high after victory in the Cascadia derby. Seattle actually have the fewest losses in the league this year, but converting ties into wins has been hard for them and is costing them a place in the top two - for now. With their resurgence, led by Rapinoe - undoubtedly the hottest player in the NWSL right now - a win tonight could be vital for them in their pursuit for the Supporters’ Shield.

The match kicks off at 7:30pm ET, this Saturday (July 8).

NWSL