Pro Tips: New Faces in the NWSL Fall Series

By Preston Bradsher

The NWSL 2020 fall series continues Saturday with another slate of matches full of unknowns. We’ve seen the teams who have played so far working to adjust without the many players who have opted out of the season for various reasons, and this weekend will be no different. The Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns, and Utah Royals will all take the field for the first time in this series, so it will be interesting to see how those clubs handle their opening matches. 

The Orlando Pride in particular will be one to watch, as they have yet to play this season after withdrawing from the Challenge Cup due to Covid-19. Now their team looks vastly different than it did this summer, with several of their big-name players going to play overseas this fall. They’ve brought in a lot of young talent to try to compete against the likes of the North Carolina Courage, and will be using this time to develop that non-federation talent pool. After nearly a year without a Pride match, you can bet the players who hit the pitch for Orlando will be hungry to do all they can with the short season they’ve been given.

Portland has also had an unusual start to the season after the wildfires near their stadium forced the postponement of their scheduled match against OL Reign last week. They’ve been training in indoor facilities trying to stay ready for this week’s game, which is scheduled to take place at Providence Park against Utah. No one knows for sure whether the air quality will be good enough for that game to go ahead as planned, so the Thorns will continue to do their best to stay ready for anything as this bizarre season continues.

Despite the uncertainties that remain, fans can look forward to a weekend of high-intensity soccer as the fall series gets going. She Plays has three fantasy games running throughout the series for fans to get into the action. Play NWSL Pick ‘Em, try our classic roster game and choose your ideal team, or show your stats knowledge with our team game. However you decide to play, we’ll have fantasy tips for you every week to help you make the best picks as you move up the leaderboards.

NWSL Fall Series Week 3 Schedule

  • North Carolina Courage vs. Orlando Pride – Saturday, September 19 at 1 pm ET (CBS)
  • Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC – Sunday, September 20 at 1 pm ET (CBS All Access)
  • Portland Thorns FC vs. Utah Royals FC – Sunday, September 20 at 3 pm ET (TWITCH)

Assign the Line

She Plays’ popular team game is back for the NWSL fall series so you can test how well you know the strengths of each team. To play Assign the Line, choose the offense, defense, and goalkeeping unit that you think will perform best each week based on their matchups, then watch as your super-team scores you fantasy points!

For your offensive line this week, consider the Courage. Despite a slow start last week against Houston, North Carolina found their rhythm and finished the game on top with a dominant offensive performance from Debinha and Lynn Williams. With a matchup against a young Orlando team that has many players missing, the Courage’s offense looks like a great choice this week.

For your defensive line, take a look at Sky Blue FC. This team has been trying to find itself this year, and their impressive performance against the Washington Spirit in week one gave us a glimpse of what this revamped New Jersey team is capable of. The addition of players like Midge Purse, Mallory Pugh, and Ifeoma Onumonu has pushed Sky Blue to a new level of competitiveness, and their back line looks especially solid with the skilled goaltending of Kailen Sheridan behind them. Against a Chicago team that hasn’t been able to finish their offensive chances, this high-energy Sky Blue team should be a solid choice this week.

As always, it’s hard to go wrong with your goalkeeper pick due to the crazy level of talent at that position in the league. Chicago has Alyssa Naeher who is always tough to beat, and Portland’s Bella Bixby and Britt Eckerstrom are a top-notch goalkeeping tandem. Consider the matchups carefully as you choose your goalie, because the defensive play in front of net is going to play a big role in determining which keeper will come out ahead.

Starting XI

She Plays also offers a classic roster game, where fantasy players become the manager of their very own NWSL team. To play Starting XI, choose the eleven players you think will score you the most points that week, and keep a close eye on matchups and injuries to optimize your lineup for every round. 

At forward this week, you have to consider Midge Purce or Ifeoma Onumonu of Sky Blue FC. Both had a huge game last week and they each put one in the back of the net. The energy of this New Jersey team looks to be growing quickly, so grab one of these players to take advantage of the wave. 

If you’re looking to take on some rookies, the Western pod is the place to go this week. Sophia Smith of the Thorns could make her much-awaited debut this weekend after missing the Challenge Cup due to injury, and she’s sure to come out swinging. Joining her on the Thorns is Morgan Weaver, who started to come alive late in the Challenge Cup. For Utah, keep an eye on Tziarra King, who has been making a big impact on and off the field for the Royals since she joined the team.

For your midfielders, Debinha is an obvious choice with her league-leading 2 goals last week. She is a tricky player who seems to be able to pull a goal out of any situation, so it’s hard to go wrong with her. Vero Boquete of the Royals and Rocky Rodriguez of the Thorns are both solid choices at midfield as well. 

However you choose to fill out your lineup, it’s sure to be an exciting weekend of games as we get to know the new fall series rosters. Make your She Plays account now and get your picks in before kick off!

Click here to make your picks now, and check back here next week for more tips!

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