NWSL opening weekend: What to watch for in each game

(Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

The NWSL regular season kicks off Friday, with marquee games scheduled throughout the weekend.

Just Women’s Sports has everything you need to know ahead of the opening whistle.

Angel City FC vs. North Carolina Courage

Friday at 10 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network

Angel City FC hosts its first-ever regular-season NWSL game in Los Angeles. The North Carolina Courage present a formidable opponent, as the team went undefeated in the Challenge Cup group stage.

Portland Thorns FC vs. Kansas City Current

Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on Twitch

Kansas City and Portland both had promising showings in Challenge Cup group play, with the Current moving on to the tournament’s semifinals.

The Thorns missed their shot at the semis after the team suffered a COVID-19 outbreak during the tournament. Portland will look to regroup as it hosts Kansas City at Providence Park to open the season.

Chicago Red Stars vs. Racing Louisville

Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Paramount+

Racing Louisville and Chicago faced each other twice during the Challenge Cup group stage, playing to a draw in both contests.

The Red Stars have had a lengthy injury list of late, with stars Tierna Davidson, Morgan Gautrat and Mallory Pugh all sidelined. Still, the team has a proven ability to step up amid injury and adversity — and it will need to do so to clinch the win over Louisville.

Washington Spirit vs. OL Reign

Sunday at 5 p.m. ET on Paramount+

Sunday’s matchup between OL Reign (the top team in our power rankings) and the Washington Spirit will serve as a preview for the clubs’ Challenge Cup semifinal just three days later.

Neither team registered a loss during the preseason tournament, with the reigning NWSL champion Spirit looking in form and OL Reign’s attack close to firing on all cylinders.

Houston Dash vs. San Diego Wave FC

Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on Paramount+

The Houston Dash struggled defensively during the Challenge Cup and will aim to shore up some of those holes when they host San Diego on Sunday. The Wave, in their first NWSL regular-season matchup, will look to continue to build the club’s identity, which started to shine through at the end of the preseason.

Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC

Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on Paramount+

Gotham FC got the better of Orlando in their two Challenge Cup matchups, with the NJ/NY club notching a win and draw against the Pride. Orlando and Gotham FC both struggled during the preseason tournament and will be eager to field a solid 90 minutes on Sunday. Gotham especially needs to put on a compelling performance, as the team’s win-now roster has so far fallen short of its potential.