It’s halftime on a sunny, late-summer day in Piscataway, New Jersey, and the North Carolina Courage are tied with Sky Blue FC, 1-1.
The Courage are the defending National Women’s Soccer League champions but are caught in the quagmire of what looks like the closest playoff race since the league’s inaugural season, in 2013. They enter the Sept. 7 weekend sitting in third place, and the trip to face one the league’s bottom-dwelling teams offers a chance to climb the table.
Reality, however, sees the Courage put together perhaps their worst 45 minutes of the season, a lethargic, sloppy display highlighted by poor turnovers, a penalty kick conceded, and a fluky Sky Blue own goal in the opening minute. This game – these next 45 minutes – are another in a series of inflection points for a team which marched unfazed through a near-perfect season in 2018.
“I hammered them at halftime of Sky Blue,” Courage coach Paul Riley told The Equalizer this week. “First time in three years I’ve really got into them and lit them up. I was really disappointed with the performance. I always base everything on the performances, not on the result. The result wasn’t bad at halftime – it was 1-1 – but how we got to 1-1 at halftime was almost a miracle. And I think that 10, 15 minutes at halftime might have changed our season.”
The entire article is accessible only to members of The Equalizer Extra. Already a member? Awesome! Please sign in below. If not, you can sign up below.
Your accountSign in
Analysis/ 2 hours ago
Chelsea’s dominance won’t be ending soon
For all the excitement of a title race that involved four teams, the narrative...
NWSL/ 3 hours ago
How OL Reign responded to an ugly loss to get back on track
The first openly transgender player to score in the NWSL, a first brace for...
Analysis/ 3 days ago
How San Diego and Portland returned to core values in a dramatic draw
Since the San Diego Wave entered the National Women’s Soccer League last year, every...