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NWSL Cup MD 1 preview

NWSL Challenge Cup: Matchday 1 preview, broadcast listings - June 27, 2020

June 26, 2020 By Michelle Bonsu
The 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup will kick off on Saturday, June 27th with a double header featuring NC Courage-Portland Thorns and Chicago Red Stars-Washington Spirit.

Preview: North Carolina Courage vs Portland Thorns

Although they were only founded in 2017, North Carolina Courage have rapidly become one of the dominant sides in the NWSL. In their debut season, they won the league and finished as runners-up in the play-offs, and in 2018, became the first team to win both the league championship and the NWSL Shield in the same season. The Courage made it a three-peat by winning the Shield yet again in 2019, and as such are naturally viewed as one of the heavy favorites to win this upcoming competition. An impressive fact is that over the past two seasons, they've averaged over two goals per match while conceding less than a goal per game - which clearly shows that this is a team who are equally as strong defensively as they as formidable in attack. 

That being said, Portland Thorns are the team that beat the Courage in the 2017 NWSL Championship final. Although the Courage got their revenge on the Thorns a year later by thrashing them 3-0 in the 2018 final, the Thorns could still - no pun intended - present a major thorn in the side of their upcoming opponents. Although American international Tobin Heath had to withdraw from the squad due to personal reasons, they still have the evergreen veteran striker Christine Sinclair and World Cup winning midfielder Lindsay Horan in their ranks. Still, the team have been dealt a big blow due to the injury sustained to first-choice shot-stopper Adriana Franch, and it will be interesting how they deal with this big absence in between the posts as they seek to put on a good show at this upcoming competition.

Where to watch North Carolina Courage vs Portland Thorns live on June 27

NC Courage-Portland Thorns kick-off at 09:30 PST/12:30 EST/16:30 GMT

USA: CBS, CBS All Access

Canada: CBS, CBS All Access

Live elsewhere? Here's where to follow North Carolina Courage vs. Portland Thorns in your location:

Preview: Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Spirit

The second match of Saturday's double header will feature Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit. The 2019 season was a highly successful one for the Chicago Red Stars, who then had Australian star Sam Kerr in their ranks, and it was during that campaign that her league record-setting 18 goals helped the team reach the post-season finals for the first time in the team's history. Although they were eventually beaten 4-0 in the final by North Carolina Courage, Rory Dames's squad nonetheless finished second in the league and now will be preparing to take on a Washington Spirit side with World Cup winner Rose Lavelle seeking to have a huge impact in this tournament.

Initially, the Red Stars were actually supposed to play Orlando Pride, but with the team having to withdraw due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in their ranks, they will now face Washington Spirit, who are largely a younger, yet ambitious squad led by Richie Burke. The Spirit finished fifth in the league last season and thus missed out on play-off spot, but will have high hopes of doing well at this curtain-raiser.

The two sides faced each other in the regular NWSL season back in 2019, with the Red Stars coming out on top with a 3-1 victory. As the reverse fixture, which was due to be played in May, was cancelled due to COVID-19, it will be very interesting to see who gets the upper hand in this contest. The Red Stars no longer have Kerr on their roster as she has now since completed a big money move to Chelsea, but they have brought in promising talent Kealia Ohai Watt, who is set to make her debut for her new club at this tournament.

Where to watch Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Spirit live on June 27

Chicago Red Stars-Washington Spirit kick-off at 19:00 PST/22:00 EST/02:00 GMT

USA: CBS All Access

Canada: CBS All Access

Live elsewhere? Here's where to follow Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Spirit in your location:

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