It’s hard to believe that one year ago tomorrow I was sitting high in the press box at Parc des Princes in Paris as the United States Women’s National Team knocked off the host nation France in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The nation and the world were captured by the thrill and exhilaration as the United States went on to win their second consecutive world title a few weeks later.
Fast forward to today and we’re living in a world where no professional team sports have taken place since March as COVID-19 has lock everything down. At least until today, when the North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns FC will face off on CBS at 12:30 p.m. ET. If you look back longingly on the times when you could sit on the couch and cheer on your favorite team then there is no better time to discover the majesty of professional women’s soccer. How could anyone possibly say no to an opportunity to watch two star-studded rosters battle it out in the first professional contest since we were all quarantined many months ago.
The National Women’s Soccer League is holding a month-long tournament, dubbed the 2020 Challenge Cup, to determine the winner of their season, and by luck of the draw the best team in the country, and probably the world, is kicking the whole thing off. The North Carolina Courage have dominated the NWSL over the last two seasons, boasting a roster that includes a multitude of USWNT stars like Crystal Dunn, Samantha Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, and Jessica McDonald. The Courage play a quick-attacking, high-press system that will enthrall even those who say that soccer is a boring sport. They’ve won the last two NWSL Championships to the tune of 3-0 and 4-0 while thoroughly outclassing their competition. The team that won the title in 2019 is back in full force, and head coach Paul Riley said in a press conference yesterday that he couldn’t wait to unleash the players.