What looked like a battle of two of the NWSL’s best strikers fell through on Thursday when Abby Wambach was ruled out of Western New York’s Saturday match against Sydney Leroux and the Boston Breakers. Without his offensive focal point, Flash coach Aaran Lines will need another plan of attack if his team’s to claim their first victory of the young season.
Kicking off at 7:35 p.m. in Rochester, Boston’s visit to Western New York is ProSoccerTalk’s NWSL Game of the Week.
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Boston putting last week behind them
When the Breakers arrived at Logan Airport last Friday, armed guards reminded them of the week that was – five days that started with a bombing at the Boston Marathon and ended with a manhunt in Watertown, where defender Kia McNeill was isolated while that section of the city was locked down.
“There were a lot of players that wanted to be with their friends and family,” Boston Breakers general manager Lee Billiard told Equalizer Soccer. “They didn’t want to leave them behind. They didn’t want to leave Kia McNeill behind either.”
The Breakers’ game in Kansas City was eventually rescheduled, the team leaving Boston’s airport to spend the weekend at home. As a result, the team hasn’t played a game in two weeks, undoubtedly the least of their worries, but one that could still have an impact on the field come Saturday night’s kickoff.
“For us, it’s a little bit of a set back,” head coach Lisa Cole told ProSoccerTalk. “Other teams have had the opportunity to have that one extra game that puts them a little bit ahead. But I also think because of the extra week we were able to address some tactical and technical things we needed to address.”
Having not played since their home opener, an April 14 draw with the Washington Spirit, Boston’s weekend off has also built anticipation.
“We’ve obviously dealt with some pretty crazy things this past week,” Sydney Leroux said of the team’s state of mind. “I think we’re ready to play soccer … the team’s in a good place now.”
Speaking to the BBC last Friday, Billiard highlighted the role sports, particularly in Boston, can play in helping a community move on. It’s a sentiment Cole echoed ahead of the Breakers’ return:
You don’t need to get over it or degrade what happened, but you do need to keep moving forward … for our fans, I think that’s important. Now’s the time to be energizing our fans and help put things behind them.
2. Teams making defense out of nothing at all
Among the things Boston and Western New York have in common – from their focal point strikers, to their participation in WPS, to their regional rivalry and their winless starts – the state of their defenses after this winter’s player allocation would have been a point of mutual empathy. Both teams were left them with questions in goal and defense – questions the league’s roster restrictions have made it difficult to answer.
“I would be lying if I said we weren’t disappointed,” Lines said, when asked about the challenges handed to him by getting only two U.S. internationals (Wambach and midfielder Carli Lloyd). “We weren’t given a defender … and then you couldn’t just go out and build the rest around that, either.”
As opposed to being able to build a squad through his own devices, Lines had to go through a supplemental draft, college draft, and limited free agency. Those steps that left him with a defense that has two combined international appearances.
But Western New York’s luck was different in the college draft, where the allocation of goalkeepers to most of the six teams picking front of Western New York meant Adrianna Franch, a national team prospect from Oklahoma State, fell to the Flash at seven. Over the first two weeks of her professional career, Franch has been among the NWSL’s best goalkeepers.
Sky Blue FC
W. New York
“At goalkeeper I’ve gone in with a rookie,” Lines said, explaining why he was willing to take the chance with inexperience. “If I hadn’t had the success the club’s had over the previous years (winning three straight titles across three different leagues), maybe I wouldn’t have gone in and made that step, but I was convinced with [her] ability.”
Ask opponents and the traits that most frequently come up about “A.D.” are quickness and poise, the latter speaking to the attitude she’s brought to her first year in professional soccer.
“It (hasn’t) been too different for me,” Franch said of her transition from college life to the pros, “because from my point of view with going to school with scholarships, it is in a way a job. You have to work for your scholarship and make sure you’re on time for everything and focused. That’s helped me with this adjustment.”
Boston, allocated 18-year-old Cecilia Santiago, had their chance at Franch but passed. As a result, Lisa Cole had to find a starting goalkeeper on the open market.
“It’s been difficult,” Cole said of that search. “Adrianna Franch, she’s gone a great job in her first two games, but I think a rookie goalkeeper needs to have a good solid six months.”
Cole’s eventually settled on Ashley Phillips, a 27-year-old veteran of the WPS Breakers, whose integration has been overshadowed by other problems along Boston’s defense. While Cole can rely on veteran duo McNeill and Cat Whitehill in the middle along with Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson on our right, left back has turned into soccer’s version of Spinal Tap’s drummer.
“I was excited about at the beginning of the season with Casey Short coming in,” Cole said of the Florida State defender Boston took in the first round, “We knew we’d have the ability to play Heather (Mitts, now retired) or Rhian there until she develops. (Then) Casey Short went down (knee injury). Now Bianca (D’Agostino) going down (knee injury). Then Julie King, who we thought would play these this weekend, has been injured. Jo Dragotta, who played there for us in the first game, (is injured). So it seems like anybody I put in that position gets hurt.”
With the restrictions on how rosters were formed, almost every team had question marks. But Western New York and Boston began the season with major questions at the back, and although neither team has given up more than one goal in a match (through three games), each coach will need more than early returns to alleviate their concerns.
3. Good luck stopping Syndey Leroux
She has 16 goals in 34 international appearances, numbers that would be even more daunting if Leroux wasn’t battling for playing time with Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach. Her five goals in Olympic qualifying last January are tied for a U.S. Soccer record, and at despite being only 22 years old, the former UCLA Bruin may be the most physically daunting attacker in the NWSL.
Yet ask Leroux to describe herself, and you’ll get a completely unconscious answer:
I’m fast, I guess. That’s what I’ve heard before … I don’t really know. It’s a tough question. I’d like to say that I think that I play hard. And smile, I guess.
Without the burden of modesty, opponents say the same thing, though their descriptions paint a more tormenting picture.
“Pace, that’s the first thing,” Franch said when asked to describe her U-level teammate. “Her movement on and off the ball is good … She never gives up. Doesn’t matter if the ball’s running out (at) the endline. She makes sure she gives all her effort at the end of that. Forcing keepers or defensive backs to play that long ball. She’s always putting that pressure on.”
We always think of elite strikers as having great technique or “predatory instincts,” both of which Leroux has. But her combination of world-class speed and almost unmatched tenacity is a defender’s worst nightmare, one that has left opponents struggling for ways to restrain her.
“You can’t necessarily stop her completely,” Cole said of her star attacker. “I think you need to limit her touches, probably limit the number of times she gets a ball behind a defense, because she’s so dangerous running at a goalkeeper … As she develops, she’ll be close to impossible (to stop).”
Against Washington in week one, Leroux’s tenacity paid off, her 91st minute goal salvaging an opening day draw. Particularly with Wambach sidelined, Leroux’s skillset makes her the player most likely to decide Saturday’s game.
W. New York
Star to Watch
Adrianna Franch – She has been her team’s best player through two games. Until Lines’ attack can start converting chances into goals, the first year star will have to continue to produce veteran performances.
Sydney Leroux – Western New York’s defense has been very good through the season’s first two weeks, but Leroux’s much better than Lisa De Vanna, a quality attacker given multiple one-on-ones with Franch in league one.
Veronica Perez – The key to W. New York’s transition game, the Mexican international’s ability to turn on a ball and get her team into through the middle third demands attention from opposition coaches.
Heather O’Reilly – The U.S. international is one of the best wide players in the world – a unique talent in a league that lacks players who can break down opposing fullbacks. Her threat along Boston’s right will stretch the defense for Leroux.
Win if …
… Franch and the defense stay strong while their wide play with Perez and/or Samantha Kerr can compensate for the absences of Wambach.
… W. New York’s attack can’t click or Leroux can’t be contained.
Other games, Week 3
FC Kansas City vs. Seattle Reign FC (Friday, 8:35 p.m. Eastern) – A battle of midfields could be settled by Kansas City’s attack as two teams search for their first victories of the season. An attacking core of Renae Cuellar, Casey Loyd, Lauren Cheney, and Kristie Mewis makes Kansas City more likely to break through the midfield slog.
Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns FC (Saturday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern) – For the third week in a row, Portland goes up against a team playing two holding midfielders. If they don’t have a way to offset that by now, Thorns FC’s midfield really does need to be reevaluated.
Washington Spirit vs. Sky Blue FC (Saturday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern) – The Spirit’s two draws have come largely on the saves of Ashlyn Harris, but if Tiffany McCarty and Stephanie Ochs can translate threats into chances, they’ll break through for their first win. Sky Blue, coming off a bye week, are one of two teams to win a game over the league’s first two weekends.
Prior to every matchweek this season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.
Let’s check out the latest Premier League injury news, below.
OUT: William Saliba (back), Eddie Nketiah (ankle), Takehiro Tomiyasu (knee), Mohamed Elneny (knock) | QUESTIONABLE: Thomas Partey (undisclosed), Kieran Tierney (calf)
OUT: Miguel Almiron (thigh), Emil Krafth (knee), Ryan Fraser (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Allan Saint-Maximin (thigh), Sven Botman (illness), Anthony Gordon (ankle), Nick Pope (knock)
Nottingham Forest injuries
OUT: Taiwo Awoniyi (groin), Scott McKenna (thigh), Willy Boly (thigh), Dean Henderson (thigh), Giulian Biancone (knee), Omar Richards (calf) | QUESTIONABLE: Brennan Johnson (groin), Chris Wood (thigh), Cheickou Kouyate (thigh), Andre Ayew (knee), Serge Aurier (knock), Wayne Hennessey (knee), Ryan Yates (shoulder)
OUT: Armel Bella-Kotchap (shoulder), Valentino Livramento (knee), Juan Larios (adductor) | QUESTIONABLE: Che Adams (calf)
Tottenham Hotspur injuries
OUT: Rodrigo Bentancur (torn ACL – out for season), Yves Bissouma (foot), Emerson Royal (knee), Ben Davies (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Richarlison (undisclosed), Hugo Lloris (knee), Ivan Perisic (calf), Ryan Sessegnon (thigh)
With nine teams currently separated by four points, from 20th to 12th places, the 2022-23 Premier League relegation scrap is not only set to last until the final day, but the final two months of the season are sure to be one of the wildest roller-coaster rides of all time.
Three clubs will be relegated from the Premier League (and replaced by three teams from the EFL Championship, of course) at season’s end. Never before have this many clubs been this close to the bottom-three, and the bottom of the table, at this point of a season.
How many games remaining between relegation candidates?
There are 23 remaining head-to-head matchups between the nine teams currently in the relegation battle.
Crystal Palace: 8 games (1 against every other team)
Wolves: 4 games
Leeds: 5 games
Everton: 4 games
Nottingham Forest: 4 games
Leicester: 6 games
West Ham: 5 games
Bournemouth: 6 games
Southampton: 4 games
FIFA said Indonesia was removed from staging the 24-team tournament scheduled to start on May 20 “due to the current circumstances” without specifying details.
The decision came after a meeting in Doha between FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Indonesian soccer federation president Erick Thohir.
Israel qualified last June for its first U20 World Cup. But the country’s participation in Friday’s scheduled draw in Bali provoked political opposition this month.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation and does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, while publicly supporting the Palestinian cause.
Indonesia’s hosting was cast into doubt on Sunday when FIFA postponed the draw.
It is unclear who could now host the tournament, which was scheduled to be played in six stadiums in Indonesia. Argentina, which did not qualify for the tournament, is reportedly interested in hosting.
“A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged,” FIFA said.
The Indonesian soccer federation could be further disciplined by FIFA. A suspension could remove Indonesia from Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, which starts in October.
FIFA seemed to remove all blame Wednesday from Thohir, the former president of Italian club Inter Milan – the team Infantino supports – and a former co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers.
FIFA staff will continue to work in Indonesia in the months ahead, the governing body said, “under the leadership of President Thohir.”
Soccer and public authorities in Indonesia agreed to FIFA’s hosting requirements in 2019 before being selected to stage the 2021 edition of the U20 World Cup. The coronavirus pandemic forced the tournament to be postponed for two years.
But Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Tuesday evening that his administration objected to Israel’s participation. He told citizens that the country agreed to host before knowing Israel would qualify.
Israel qualified by reaching the semifinals of the U19 European Championship. The team went on to lose to England in that final.
Israel plays in Europe as a member of UEFA after leaving the Asian Football Confederation in the 1970s for political and security reasons.
FIFA bills the men’s U20 World Cup as “the tournament of tomorrow’s superstars.”
Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba are previous winners of the official player of the tournament award, and Erling Haaland was the top scorer at the 2019 edition.
Premier League fixtures for 2022-23 season: How to watch, TV schedule, live stream links, Peacock, channel
Remember: you can watch all 380 Premier League games across NBC, USA Network, NBCSports.com and Peacock. We’ve got you covered.
Will Manchester City win yet another Premier League title? Can Arsenal push them all the way? Will Chelsea and Liverpool recover to finish in the top four? Can Manchester United’s new-look side surge into the title race? What about Tottenham? How will the new boys get on? Who will be the surprise package?
Those questions will be answered from August 2022 to May 2023, with the full list of Premier League fixtures.
While below are the answers to all of the questions you have around the Premier League fixtures and everything else you need to know for the upcoming season, with full details on the Premier League TV schedule across the NBC family of channels and more.
The Premier League fixtures for the 2022-23 season were announced on Thursday June 16, 2022 at 4am ET. Below is the full schedule, as you can watch all 380 games across our NBC platforms.
The Premier League fixture computer decides who plays who and when, as teams located close to one another are usually playing at home on opposite weekends to help with policing, crowd control and transport congestion in those areas.
When will the Premier League take a break for the 2022 World Cup?
When will the 2022-23 Premier League season finish?
The final day of the season will be on Sunday, May 28, 2023.
Which teams will compete in the 2022-23 Premier League?
These are the 20 teams which will compete in the Premier League for the upcoming season:
Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brentford, Brighton and Hove Albion, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers
2:45pm: AFC Bournemouth v Brighton
2:45pm: Leeds v Nottingham Forest
2:45pm: Leicester vs Aston Villa
3pm: Chelsea vs Liverpool
Wednesday 5 April
3pm: Man United v Brentford
3pm: West Ham v Newcastle
Saturday 8 April
7:30am: Man Utd v Everton
Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest
Brentford v Newcastle
Fulham v West Ham
Leicester v AFC Bournemouth
Spurs v Brighton
Wolves v Chelsea
12:30pm: Southampton v Man City
Sunday 9 April
9am: Leeds v Crystal Palace
11:30am: Liverpool v Arsenal
Saturday 15 April
7:30am: Aston Villa v Newcastle
Chelsea v Brighton
Everton v Fulham
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Spurs v AFC Bournemouth
Wolves v Brentford
12:30pm: Man City v Leicester
Sunday 16 April
9am: West Ham v Arsenal
11:30am: Nottingham Forest v Man Utd
Monday 17 April
3pm: Leeds v Liverpool
Friday 21 April
3pm: Arsenal v Southampton
Saturday 22 April
7:30am: Fulham v Leeds
Brentford v Aston Villa
Crystal Palace v Everton
Leicester v Wolves
Liverpool v Nottingham Forest
Sunday 23 April
9am: AFC Bournemouth v West Ham
9am: Newcastle v Spurs
Postponed due to European action
Man Utd v Chelsea
Brighton v Man City
Tuesday 25 April
2:30pm: Wolves v Crystal Palace
2:45pm: Aston Villa v Fulham
2:45pm: Leeds v Leicester
Wednesday 26 April
2:30pm: Nottingham Forest v Brighton
2:45pm: Chelsea v Brentford
2:45pm: West Ham v Liverpool
3pm: Man City v Arsenal
Thursday 27 April
2:45pm: Everton v Newcastle
2:45pm: Southampton v AFC Bournemouth
3:15pm: Spurs v Man Utd
Saturday 29 April
7:30am: Crystal Palace v West Ham
Brentford v Nottingham Forest
Brighton v Wolves
12:30pm: Arsenal v Chelsea
Sunday 30 April
9am: AFC Bournemouth v Leeds
9am: Fulham v Man City
9am: Man Utd v Aston Villa
9am: Newcastle v Southampton
11:30am: Liverpool v Spurs
Monday 1 May
3pm: Leicester v Everton
Wednesday 3 May
3pm: Liverpool v Fulham
3pm: Man City v West Ham
Thursday 4 May
3pm: Brighton v Man Utd
Saturday 6 May
AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea
Spurs v Crystal Palace
Wolves v Aston Villa
12:30pm: Liverpool v Brentford
Sunday 7 May
9am: Man City v Leeds* subject to possible Champions League schedule
11:30am: Newcastle v Arsenal
2pm: West Ham v Man Utd
Monday 8 May
10am: Fulham v Leicester
12:30pm: Brighton v Everton
3pm: Nottingham Forest v Southampton
Saturday 13 May
Arsenal v Brighton
Aston Villa v Spurs
Brentford v West Ham
Chelsea v Nottingham Forest
Crystal Palace v AFC Bournemouth
Everton v Man City
Leeds v Newcastle
Leicester v Liverpool
Man Utd v Wolves
Southampton v Fulham
Saturday 20 May
AFC Bournemouth v Man Utd
Brighton v Southampton
Fulham v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Man City v Chelsea
Newcastle v Leicester
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal
Spurs v Brentford
West Ham v Leeds
Wolves v Everton
Sunday 28 May
16:00 Arsenal v Wolves
16:00 Aston Villa v Brighton
16:00 Brentford v Man City
16:00 Chelsea v Newcastle
16:00 Crystal Palace v Nottingham Forest
16:00 Everton v AFC Bournemouth
16:00 Leeds v Spurs
16:00 Leicester v West Ham
16:00 Man Utd v Fulham
16:00 Southampton v Liverpool