A beginner's guide to watching USWNT stars in the National Women's Soccer LeagueSporting News — firstname.lastname@example.org (Sporting News)
The U.S. women's national team won a historic fourth FIFA Women's World Cup title on Sunday. Stars like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz captured the nation's attention and garnered a following.
But now that the tournament is over, how are all these new fans going to follow all their new favorite players?
Fortunately for new soccer fans, every member of the USWNT championship squad plays stateside in the National Women's Soccer League. The season runs from April to October and USWNT members are set to rejoin their teams July 20.
If you're new to the NWSL scene, here's a complete guide to watching the league's matches for the remainder of the 2019 season.
NWSL schedule 2019: Dates, times, channels for televised games
ESPN and the NWSL just announced a broadcast deal for 14 games for the remainder of the 2019 season, on ESPN2 and ESPN News. Here's a full viewing schedule:
|Date||Matchup||Time (TV channel)|
|July 14||Portland vs. Orlando||3 p.m. ET (ESPN News)|
|July 21||Chicago vs. North Carolina||6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)|
|July 27||Utah vs. North Carolina||10 p.m. ET (ESPN News)|
|Aug. 2||Houston vs. Seattle||7 p.m. ET (ESPN News)|
|Aug. 11||Portland vs. North Carolina||3 p.m. ET (ESPN News)|
|Aug. 18||New Jersey vs. Seattle||1 p.m. ET (ESPN News)|
|Aug. 25||Portland vs. Chicago||3 p.m. ET (ESPN News)|
|Sept. 11||Orlando vs. Chicago||7 p.m. ET (ESPN News)|
|Sept. 17||North Carolina vs. Houston||7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN News)|
|Sept. 25||Houston vs. Washington||9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)|
|Sept. 29||Seattle vs. Portland||2 p.m. ET (ESPN2)|
|Oct. 20||NWSL semifinal 1||2 p.m. ET (ESPN2)|
|Oct. 20||NWSL semifinal 2||4 p.m. ET (ESPN2)|
|Oct. 27||NWSL championship||4 p.m. ET (ESPN2)|
National Women's Soccer League teams
Here's a rundown of the nine NWSL teams, their national team players and what you should know about them.
1. Chicago Red Stars
USWNT members: Alyssa Naeher, Julie Ertz, Morgan Brian, Tierna Davidson
International stars: Sam Kerr (Australia)
Kerr rejoined the team from the World Cup with a return hat trick against Orlando, looking to retain her 2018 Golden Boot title. The recently acquired Savannah McCaskill has a few USWNT caps, and will almost certainly add more.
They aren't far from the top, but with Naeher, Ertz, Brian, and Davidson returning, they may be energized enough to make a playoff run.
2. Houston Dash
USWNT members: None
International stars: Rachel Daly (England)
Goalkeeper Jane Campbell is pushing for a USWNT roster look from head coach Jill Ellis, and she's impressing. The team is without USA stars, but has a few hopefuls along with Campbell in Sofia Huerta and Kealia Ohai, though the two strikers aren't doing themselves many favors as Houston has been winless for the past six matches.
3. North Carolina Courage
USWNT members: Abby Dahlkemper Sam Mewis, Jessica McDonald, Crystal Dunn
International stars: Stephanie Labbé (Canada)
If you take to the Courage, you'll see Dunn in her natural attacking postion, not at left back when with the USWNT. Mewis and McDonald add to the offensive duties and Dahlkemper, New Zealand's and NWSL Defender of the Year Abby Erceg and late USWNT roster cut McCall Zerboni bolster the reigning NWSL champions defense.
4. Orlando Pride
USWNT members: Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan
International stars: Marta (Brazil)
The Pride were hit hard by international call ups, with Krieger and Harris out with the U.S., Alanna Kennedy out with Australia, Shelina Zadorsky out with Canada and Brazil taking Marta to the World Cup. Forward Sydney Leroux missed the World Cup and the NWSL season while pregnant, adding to the depleated team.
With the return of its starting defense, Orlando is looking to right the ship.
5. Portland Thorns FC
USWNT members: Adrianna Franch, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnett
International stars: Christine Sinclair (Canada)
The Thorns are heralded as the runaway team of the league, leading since day one in attendance. With an involved ownership and a first class stadium, the Thorns contend for the title nearly every year winning in 2018 and coming in second in 2019.
Franch and Sonnett hold the Thorns defensivley while Heath and reigning league MVP Horan lead the charge, along with soccer legend Sinclair.
6. Reign FC
USWNT members: Allie Long, Megan Rapinoe
International stars: Jess Fishlock (Wales)
Rapinoe captains the U.S. and the Reign without her and Long away at the tournament, the team has held strong for first place. In the recent weekend, the team did lose Fishlock to injury, but gain back all of their World Cup players so look for the Reign to continue to contend for a championship.
7. Sky Blue FC
USWNT members: Carli Lloyd
International stars: Nahomi Kawasumi (Japan)
Sky Blue FC have had a bit of a rough go over the last few weeks. The team is without a manager after firing Denise Reddy, staff has not named an interim coach and young, bright stars like McCaskill - recently traded to Chicago - are looking to get out.
The team has historically had a few issues, but it recenlty garnered its first win of the season last week over the Red Stars after all the chaos. Carli Lloyd returns to the fold with her leadership, and a World Cup trophy, so we can only hope for better days for Sky Blue.
8. Utah Royals FC
USWNT members: Kelley O'Hara, Christen Press, Becky Sauerbrunn
International stars: Vero Boquete (Spain)
The Royals are NWSL's newest team, an expansion club born out of the collapse of FC Kansas City. They bolster two the USWNT's toughest defenders in O'Hara and Sauerbrunn. They bring the firepower on offense through Press, former USA member Amy Rodriguez and Spain's Boquete.
9. Washington Spirit
USWNT members: Rose Lavelle, Mallory Pugh
International stars: Chloe Logarzo (Australia)
Developing USWNT star Pugh chose to sign with the Spirit, forgoing time playing college soccer, a big get for the NWSL side. She and Lavelle highlight the team as two exciting young players set to develop with the league. Australia's World Cup squad member Logarzo rounds out the team's young, exciting squad.
Which team should you follow?
There's no shame in glory hunting here. The Courage are the reigning champs, the Thorns are historically the best and the Reign are currently leading the league. All good choices to support. Or you can follow your favorite USWNT player to her club team — no one will be mad at that!
And if you're a local to any team, take yourself to a live game and experience it.
You don't have to wait for 2023 to watch these women play again.