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Three tweaks to get Utah into the NWSL postseason

Does Laura Harvey have the tweaks at her disposal to lead the Royals up table? (photo copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

There is an early gap forming in the NWSL. You can see it in the standings, right between the “4” and “5” spots in the table.

Above that line, you have four teams with positive goal differences, all of which are averaging at least 1.6 points per game. In a league where less than half of the teams make the playoffs, those marks may prove the minimum marks to make the postseason. Yet the five teams outside the “playoff picture,” right now, are all on negative goal differences and claiming a point or less per outing.

Yes, it’s early, but we’re all adults, here, right? Well, at least you’re adults. I’m the type of person who types things like “we’re all adults.” Regardless, we should be able to talk about what we’re seeing while still acknowledging: it’s early, things can change, and there’s only so much you can read into a few teams’ slow starts.

The problem, though, is that the league’s current top four maps perfectly onto what many picked as the league’s most likely playoff quartet. If there was, a month ago, a theory of how the league would play out, and the league’s first returns reinforce that theory, perhaps we should be giving that theory more credence?

Perhaps. Or, perhaps, we can look at some of the playoff hopefuls in a more positive light, asking what changes they need to make over the next 20-or-so games to ensure the gap between them and the top four doesn’t become a chasm.

Starting with the Royals, we’ll take the next three days to offer some simple solutions (or, precautions) for the three most likely top-four challengers: Utah, Orlando and Washington. In all likelihood, these are solutions coaches have already considered, ones which, for whatever reason, they have decided against. Never realizing we’re dumber than actual coaches, we forge ahead, pretending we have any ideas Laura Harvey could use …

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