NWSL Challenge Cup Power Ratings: Why Every Utah Team Chases North Carolina Courage

After months of preparation, the NWSL is returning as the first professional team sports league in the United States. You can catch all the action this Saturday on CBS and CBS all access with current North Carolina Courage champions taking Portland Spikes at 12:30 p.m. ET and then the Chicago Red Stars take on the Spirit of Washington at 10:00. ET. For more information about the full schedule and start time, Click here, More on how to watch each game, Click here,

League made some adjustments to the Challenge Cup after Orlando Pride Out of Event due to several players and employees having a positive result with COVID-19. After a minor overhaul, eight teams will compete in the group stages, and then in the final rounds.


Here's what the teams look like before the weekend opens:

1. North Carolina Courage: Reigning NWSL Champions. The team that has received many awards. Most of their 2019 championship team is back, including some high-profile prospects. Despite the unique format of the tournament, all clubs are still chasing North Carolina.


2. Chicago Red Stars: The only team besides Courage, which has several players from the US team, is returning to participate in the tournament. If their young talents can quickly acclimatize in group rounds, they can take a deep run along the road to foreclosure after last season's finale.

3. Washington Spirit: Seek the Spirit to run with the young core, including two 2019 New Year nominees at Sam Staba and Jordan DiBiazi. The prospect that Rose Lavell and Andy Sullivan will finally enter the field at the same time should provide a deep tournament run.


4. Portland Thorns FC: A recent knee injury for novice goalkeeper Adrianna Franch and a transitional offseason for the club have created some obstacles to this tournament. The arrival of Becky Sauerbrunn and the Costa Rican international team Rocky Rodriguez are just a few of the ways Spikes will remain competitive.

5. PR Reign: Team will without winger megan rapino and with the new trainer in Farida Benstiti as a good part of 2019 returns. Look for new arrivals Sophia Worth and Alana Cook, who will have an impact when the season begins in Utah.


6 Utah Royals FC: Royals will host this tournament, and in other circumstances may start from a higher rank. New head coach Craig Harrington will get the opportunity for his young players to get time on the field, while veteran striker and former U.S. striker Amy Rodriguez is chasing goals.

7. Houston Dash: H-Town made a few moves in the offseason for more experienced players for its back line at Megan Oyster and Katie Naughton. All of Dash’s top traits have returned after injuries that ended last season and they will have to quickly click their mouse to chase the remainder of the package above.

8. Sky Blue FC: Consider them a true outsider of the tournament. No, Lloyd. No, I drink. No, Didasko. The team can use this tournament to build and assert themselves, or completely shock the league if they come in an organized manner and fit amid injuries.


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