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A new, more possession-based Courage team is still a work in progress

North Carolina is slightly better defensively and among the best in the league in possession. Missing from the equation thus far is a dangerous attack, which was once a staple of Courage soccer.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Courage came into the 2023 regular season on a mission to rebuild and make it back to the postseason after missing the playoffs for the first time since their arrival in the market in 2017. With the departure of veteran players like Abby Erceg and Debinha in the offseason, the Courage and second-year head coach Sean Nahas were forced to regroup. 

Six games in the new regular season, North Carolina’s new identity is starting to surface, despite the fact that the team has tested out five unique lineups and two separate formations in this stretch. If anything, the persistence of an unwavering identity amidst personnel and shape changes suggests that Nahas’ team has a clear game plan, even if it takes a variety of player combinations and shapes to carry it out. That continuity aside, the Courage look a little different from last season. Here’s how.

A lackluster attack is plaguing the Courage

Last season, North Carolina’s attack was its saving grace. Although the Courage were bleeding goals in 2022, they scored the second-most goals (2.05) and generated the second-highest expected goals per game (1.69) of all teams in the regular season, only behind the Portland Thorns, who eventually won the NWSL Championship.

That is definitely not the case in 2023. 

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