UPDATE 4:04 p.m.: 6 players and 4 staff tested positive for Covid-19, per the NWSL.
UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: The Orlando Pride announced on Monday they are withdrawing from the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup due to positive COVID-19 tests among both players and staff. All were asymptomatic, but the club determined it was in the best interest of health and safety to voluntarily withdraw. Here’s the club’s complete statement.
The National Women’s Soccer League kicks off its 2020 season in one week with the Challenge Cup. The season was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and rather than attempt a regular season, the NWSL is playing a nine-team tournament in Utah.
The league is unveiled submitted rosters this week, but before the details are official, we’ve got a look at odds for the Challenge Cup tournament. DraftKings Sportsbook oddsmaker Johnny Avello put together ratings for all nine teams, and has installed the NC Courage as 2/1 favorites.
NC Courage: 2-1
Chicago Red Stars: 3-1
Portland Thorns: 5-1
Washington Spirit: 6-1
Utah Royals: 8-1
OL Reign: 12-1
Houston Dash: 15-1
Sky Blue FC: 25-1
Orlando Pride: 30-1
Several notable players have announced they won’t play, with several others also expected to miss the tournament. Among the names expected to miss the tournament are Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue), Alex Morgan (Orlando), Tobin Heath (Portland), Christen Press (Utah), Mallory Pugh (Sky Blue), and Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign).
Soccer writer Kim McCauley is providing a daily preview series at All For XI to prepare us for the Challenge Cup. She provided some thoughts on the favored NC Courage and a sleeper team in OL Reign.
Favorite: NC Courage
North Carolina Courage are deservedly the favorites, and probably should be by a wider margin. They return 10 of their starting 11, and can rotate in USWNT prospects up front when their stars need a rest. There’s no aspect of the game in which they’re not the best team in the league.
Sleeper: OL Reign
Even without Megan Rapinoe, I think OL Reign represent the best value for money. They have a deep squad and can afford to rotate more heavily than other teams, which should be extremely valuable in a condensed tournament. They also played most of last season without star Jess Fishlock, who is now fully fit.