All in one: 2018 Season Preview
The 2018 NWSL season kicks off on Saturday
Portland Thorns FC won the 2017 NWSL Championship. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/
Portland Thorns FC won the 2017 NWSL Championship. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/

By Celia Balf

On Saturday, the NWSL will begin its sixth season with a rematch of last year’s championship. The reigning champs, Portland Thorns FC, visit the North Carolina Courage at 3:30 p.m. ET on Lifetime at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.

It is a jam-packed opening weekend with the Game of the Week up first — followed by Orlando Pride hosting the newest NWSL team, Utah Royals FC at 7:30 p.m. ET (go90). To close out Saturday, the Washington Spirit travel to Seattle Reign FC for a 10 p.m. ET kickoff on go90.

Opening weekend continues on Sunday with the Houston Dash welcoming the Chicago Red Stars to BBVA Compass Stadium at 5 p.m. ET (go90).

To get you ready for the weekend, here is everything you could possibly need or want to make sure you’re fully suited for this 2018 NWSL season.

Full schedule  | Game of the Week on Lifetime schedule 


Ways to Watch

The NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime can be watched live on the Lifetime cable network, on, and the Lifetime iOS and Android apps. You will need to sign in with your TV provider credentials.

All other games are available live on, as well as on the go90 iOS and Android apps with no authentication required.

For viewers located outside of the United States, all games will be streamed live on and the NWSL app. Live stream links can be found on the NWSL schedule page: or the Games section of the app shortly before kickoff.

Apps to download:

NWSL: iTunes | Google Play

Lifetime: iTunes | Google Play | Amazon appstore

go90: iTunes | Google Play

Follow us on social

Make sure you follow the National Women’s Soccer League on all our social media platforms before the season starts:

Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook
Subscribe to us on YouTube

The NWSL is also now on GIPHY for all your gif needs. We’ll be bringing you new gifs all season long.

As always, keep an eye on the #NWSL hashtag, and on game-days, we’ll keep using game-specific hashtags with team tricodes. For instance, our first game this year between the Courage and Thorns FC will be tagged as #NCvPOR.

We also want you to tag us! We’ll be highlighting our favorite fan photos from across the league this year.

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The Chicago Red Stars finished the 2017 NWSL season in fourth place, and this year Rory Dames’ squad is well equipped with depth in all areas of the field to contest for a NWSL championship. The Red Stars acquired 2017 NWSL Golden Boot winner and MVP Sam Kerr and will look to the forward to turn on the green light once she returns from 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying with Australia.

Coach: Rory Dames

Stadium: Toyota Park

2018 Season Preview

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The Houston Dash are another team that has made several changes in the offseason. With a new head coach in Vera Pauw and a number of new players on on offense, the Dash will also be looking to shake things up in 2018.

Head coach: Vera Pauw

Home stadium: BBVA Compass Stadium

2018 Season Preview

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The North Carolina Courage won the NWSL Shield in 2017, and dominated the standings with a league-tying 16 wins. The Courage bring back a core of familiar faces this year and welcome 2015 NWSL MVP and Golden Boot winner Crystal Dunn.

Head coach: Paul Riley

Home stadium: Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park

2018 Season Preview

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Last season the Orlando Pride made it to the NWSL playoffs for the first time in club history, and after falling to the Thorns in the semifinals, the Pride return to 2018 hungrier than ever. The Pride return their dynamic duo of forwards, Alex Morgan and Marta.

Head coach: Tom Sermanni

Home stadium: Orlando City Stadium

2018 Season Preview

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The reigning 2017 NWSL champions will chase after their third NWSL title this year. Mark Parsons welcomes back 14 players from last season, including 2017 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year Adrianna Franch and 2017 NWSL championship MVP Lindsey Horan. The Thorns open up their 2018 campaign on the road against the North Carolina Courage on Saturday.

Coach: Mark Parsons

Stadium: Providence Park

2018 Season Preview

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The Reign have finished the last two NWSL seasons in fifth place. Now, with a core of returners — plus key additions in midfielder Allie Long and forward Jodie Taylor, to name a few, new head coach Vlatko Andonovski is ready to take his new team to the next level.

Head coach: Vlatko Andonovski

Home stadium: UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium

2018 Season Preview

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Sky Blue FC roll into 2018 with an almost entirely new roster. The New Jersey side finished in sixth place last season and with the additions of midfielder Carli Lloyd, 2018 NWSL College Draft second overall pick Savannah McCaskill, along with a fresh crop of young players, Reddy’s team will look to climb to the top this year.

Coach: Denise Reddy

Stadium: Yurcak Field

2018 Season Preview

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Utah Royals FC make their NWSL debut this season. The new team has had a busy offseason, but will stride into 2018 in royal fashion led by two-time NWSL Coach of the Year Laura Harvey.

Head coach: Laura Harvey

Home stadium: Rio Tinto Stadium

2018 Season Preview

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The Washington Spirit will turn to several young faces in 2018 to get their team back to the playoffs, after missing last year’s for the first time since 2013. The team returns USWNT forward Mallory Pugh, and picked up other key players in Ashley Hatch and Taylor Smith.

Head coach: Jim Gabarra

Home stadium: Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex

2018 Season Preview

GM and Media Surveys

Who will win the NWSL Championship this year? Most Valuable Player? Golden Boot? During the preseason, NWSL Media worked with all of the nine teams’ general managers and NWSL media members to answer some of these questions before the start of the season.

GM survey results

Media survey results

Player Features

Savannah McCaskill enjoying her time with the USWNT

Crystal Dunn ready for her NWSL return

Q&A: Kristen Hamilton, North Carolina Courage

For Franch, stability has brought results

Q&A: Amy Rodriguez, Utah Royals FC

Games to Watch

11 games you’re not going to want to miss

By Jacqueline Purdy

1. North Carolina Courage vs. Portland Thorns FC

Saturday, March 24 | 3:30 p.m. ET | Lifetime

Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park

A rematch of the title game is always fun and this one should not disappoint. The Courage won the NWSL Shield, but the Thorns won the NWSL Championship in October. The physical match will likely still be fresh on the minds of many players on the pitch.

Lindsey Horan scored the game-winning goal in the 49th minute and Emily Menges came up with a clutch block late to seal the win.

They split the regular season series in 2017 before Portland won the final — but the rivalry goes back even longer between the teams. Many of the same Courage players were also on the field for the Western New York Flash’s 2016 semifinal upset of the Thorns in Portland.

The Thorns have never lost a season opener (4-0-1).

Read more

Meg Linehan and Jacqueline Purdy contributed to this preview.

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