A NWSL Final Preview With Ali Krieger and Lynn Williams

1 Comment

We rely on this weekend’s NWSL Final to be the torch that guides us through the darkness of the International Break. The game [5 p.m. Sunday ET on FS1] at BBVA Stadium in Houston sees the Washington Spirit take on the Western New York Flash with both teams in search of their first NWSL title.

Lead by World Cup Champion, D.C. hometown hero and GFOP Ali Krieger, the Spirit have come a long way since finishing the 2013 inaugural NWSL season dead last, winning just three of 22 games. From Marcy to Madison Square, as Jay Z says. Krieger and the Spirit defense will be tasked with stopping 23-year-old 2016 NWSL MVP and Golden Boot Winner Lynn Williams. The Fresno, Calif.-native notched a brace in the Flash’s 4 – 3 semifinal extra time win in front of 20,000 screaming fans in Portland.

In this issue of The Raven, we spoke with both Ali and Lynn about Sunday’s match. We start with Lynn, with whom we spoke via phone Tuesday. At the time, she had yet to receive her first USWNT call up. We asked about her goals with the national team and her answer was simply remarkable. Unfortunately, Jill Ellis did not take the distribution of the Men in Blazers newsletter into account when she named Williams to her first USWNT roster Thursday ahead of a pair of games against Switzerland later this month. While it’s now dated, we decided to leave Williams answer about the USWNT in the below interview because it aptly illustrates her amazing approach to football.

MiB: That semifinal, though. A 4 – 3, holy crap, end-to-end affair against the NWSL Shield winners at a packed Providence Park. You score not once, but twice in EXTRA TIME to fell a Thorns side loaded with established internationals. When the final whistle blew, what was going through your head?

Lynn: It was definitely the game of all games. I keep joking, saying it was a spectator’s dream and a player’s nightmare. But, truthfully, as a player, you live for those games. You go to Portland and they have 20,000 fans. They’re not rooting for us, but seeing how much support the NWSL has, and being given the opportunity to play before a crowd like that, you go in, give it your all, and hope for the best.

It was a hard-fought battle. We put everything on the line. It was physical. Bodies were worn down. When that final whistle blew, I almost dropped to my knees and put my hands in the air, but I thought that was a bit too dramatic. In that final moment, I thought, ‘Thank goodness.’ It’s so amazing see all of our hard work and grit come together. Knowing that I went to battle with some of my best friends and teammates out there, it was just such a surreal feeling.

MiB: You are a direct, in your face, offensive team. ESPN’s Graham Hays quoted your coach Paul Riley as saying, “Even if I told them to park the bus, they wouldn’t park the bus. They’d just ignore me.” How do you describe your team’s style of play?

Lynn: Since day one, Paul has instilled a belief in the team that, “Yes, we are young, but we’re talented.” And I think the youth on our side makes us a little crazy, but also a little unpredictable. I don’t think we have it in us to sit and back and just park the bus. We want to go and go and go. We’re just a fast-paced team. We like the speed of the game. We don’t really have an off speed. I think that started at the beginning of the season when Paul said, “We’re going to pressure, and we’re going to pressure hard as a team.” Now, when you ask us to sit back, we’re like, “We don’t know how to do that.” It’s not wired in our brain anymore.

MiB: You scored 11 goals this season to earn the Golden Boot. Regardless of what happens Sunday, you’ve left an indelible mark on the season and the playoffs. You are an established USA U-23 star. Have you heard from Jill Ellis yet about your amazing season?

Lynn: I haven’t talked to Jill Ellis yet. One of my dreams is to be on the national team, and play for my country. Last year, I injured my knee and had to watch as, not just the people I idolize, but some of my close friends got called up. And, I think if you focus on that, you start to eat yourself alive. But when I was hurt, I tried to regroup and think about what I love doing. I love playing soccer. I really hope to play for the national team someday. It’s my dream. But it’s not the end-all be-all. I have to focus on Sunday and winning a NWSL championship and go from there.

Ahhh (Rog Pod sigh)… now to Washington Spirit captain Ali Krieger, one of three players (we see you Tori Huster and Diana Matheson) who has been a member of the Spirit for each of its four NWSL seasons.  

MiB: You’ve been on the Spirit since the inaugural season. Talk about how far the team has come, what’s allowed for that change, and what it all means to you as someone who’s been there from the jump.

Ali: It’s been a wild ride. The three of us [Ali, Tori, and Diana] who have been here during that time joked before we played the semifinal, “Do you remember that first year?” I thought I wanted to quit soccer because it was so bad. The struggle was real. So it’s amazing to see the reward now, sitting in the final, preparing for the championship. I’m extremely happy. I’m so proud of the team. And it’s such a deserving group of women who have dug really deep this year and come out on top. I feel like we’re sitting in first class and we’re motivated not to go back.

MiB: You are proper Washington, DC, hailing from nearby Woodbridge, Va. The region’s football culture is embedded in your soul. What would it mean to you to bring a championship to the region?

Ali: It would be one of the best moments of my career, right behind winning a World Cup and a Champion’s League Final. I’ve always wanted to win a championship in the professional league in the U.S., especially for my hometown team. These are the moments why we play professional football, and why I love to play in DC. I dreamt about bringing a championship to the city when I was growing up and watching the Freedom play in the WUSA. I remember watching Steffi Jones, Abby Wambach, and Mia Hamm, these powerful inspiring women, bring the trophy home in 2003. And that was such a great moment for the city and for young girls growing up in this area. It’s what I’ve always wanted for this club.

MiB: Your team is a collective in every sense of the word. Every player who started the season on the team’s roster has started at least seven of the 20 regular season games this year. You’ve had 11 goal scorers. What kind of advantage does this give you in a final?

Ali: We share the ball. We trust each other. We really understand what it is to be a team. We try and go out there and make each other look good and put each other in great situations to be successful. We’re not anywhere near individualistic. We are a team. We fight for each other and support each other. If we make a mistake, we make that mistake together. And we all take responsibility for that. If we succeed, we succeed together. We’ve always said that if we take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.

If you’re in the Houston area, or fancy a last minute road trip, a few tickets to the NWSL Final still remain. They are available HERE. The game airs on television Sunday at 5 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

West Brom – Chelsea: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

1 Comment

West Brom – Chelsea: The Blues are in desperate need of a strong rebound when they visit The Hawthorns on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 pm ET, on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WEST BROM – CHELSEA STREAM LIVE

The Baggies, on the other hand, are simply hoping to collect their first point of the season after suffering a 3-0 defeat to Leicester City on the opening day of the 2020-21 season and following that up with a 5-2 beatdown at the hands of Everton last weekend.

As far as favorable matchups go, facing the 20th-place side a week after losing to defending champions Liverpool is quite timely for Chelsea.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of West Brom – Chelsea this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: West Brom – Chelsea (INJURY REPORT)

West Brom – QUESTIONABLE: Ahmed Hegazi (thigh), Kamil Grosicki (back), Hal Robson-Kanu (leg) | OUT: Kieran Gibbs (suspension), Conor Gallagher (loan rules), Kenneth Zohore (calf)

Chelsea – QUESTIONABLE: Christian Pulisic (hamstring), Cesar Azpilicueta (thigh) | OUT: Hakim Ziyech (knee), Andrea Christensen (suspension)


What they’re saying: West Brom – Chelsea

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic, on struggling to sign players: “We don’t have a huge budget, that is why we are trying to be creative and lucky. That’s not easy but we are trying. … We have to do it to maintain a good chance.”

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, on Thiago Silva: “It is exciting for us because he has had just over a week training with us. It was a perfect 60 minutes for him tonight. He will show the qualities he has. Of course, he will get fitter and better. He also gave us something for me on the night in the dressing room and on the pitch of a leader with authority in terms of his demands on others. He can’t speak the language but at the minute that’s not even a problem because his presence and the way he commands people around him is already showing that to me in training and in our game tonight.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

West Brom (+750) represent one of the biggest underdogs — or, opportunities, depending on how you look at it — of the still-young PL season. There’s not much to be won by betting on Chelsea (-280). Even the draw (+400) is pretty far out there.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: West Brom – Chelsea

Barring some unforeseen circumstances — for example, a 12th-minute red card — it’s virtually impossible to see West Brom getting anything from this game. They’ve been incredibly poor defensively through two games, and they’re yet to face a side with anything close to the firepower which the Blues possess. West Brom 1-3 Chelsea.


How to watch West Brom – Chelsea stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:30 pm ET Saturday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

MLS upcoming schedule, MLS Cup odds

MLS betting odds
Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MLS betting odds and upcoming schedule: Major League Soccer still has six weeks left of fixtures left in the regular season after its long-awaited return from the COVID-19 shutdown.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Dest to Barcelona? ]

The regular season is currently scheduled to end on Nov. 8, with the playoffs beginning that same week and culminating with MLS Cup on Dec. 12.

Click here for MLS betting odds and different odds on soccer and beyond from our new official sports betting partner PointsBet, as there will be plenty of selections to make each week with game lines and more available via NBC Sports Bet.

[ MORE: Five-subs rule again voted down by Premier League clubs ]

This page will be updated following the completion of every round of games in 2020, to feature the upcoming set of fixtures and MLS betting odds.


This weekend’s MLS schedule and odds (via PointsBet)

Sunday, Sept. 26

Nashville (+105) v Houston (+235) / Draw (+225) — 3:30 pm ET
NYCFC (-228) v Cincinnati (+550) / Draw (+300) — 7 pm ET

Sunday, Sept. 27

DC United (+225) v New England (+105) / Draw (+230) — 7 pm ET
New York Red Bulls (-167) v Montreal (+375) / Draw (+280) — 7 pm ET
Philadelphia (+120) v Inter Miami (+195) / Draw (+225) — 7:30 pm ET
Chicago (-139) v Atlanta (+300) / Draw (+275) — 7:30 pm ET
Toronto (+120) v Columbus (+195) / Draw (+225) — 7:30 pm ET
Minnesota (-125) v Real Salt Lake (+265) / Draw (+270) — 8 pm ET
FC Dallas (+125) v Orlando City (+170) / Draw (+245) — 8:30 pm ET
Colorado (+145) v Sporting KC (+150) / Draw (+240) — 9 pm ET
Vancouver (+375) v Portland (-189) / Draw (+325) — 10 pm ET
LAFC (-500) v San Jose (+850) / Draw (+525) — 10:30 pm ET
LA Galaxy (+150) v Seattle (+150) / Draw (+235) — 10:30 pm ET


MLS Cup winner odds

Los Angeles FC (+450)
Toronto FC (+450)
Seattle Sounders (+800)
Philadelphia Union (+1100)
Atlanta United (+1400)
Columbus Crew (+1400)
LA Galaxy (+1800)
New York City FC (+1800)
Sporting KC (+1800)
Portland Timbers (+2000)
Minnesota United (+2500)
New England Revolution (+2500)
Orlando City SC (+2500)
New York Red Bulls (+3000)
Montreal Impact (+4000)
FC Dallas (+5000)
Real Salt Lake (+5000)
San Jose Earthquakes (+6000)
Chicago Fire (+10000)
Colorado Rapids (+10000)
D.C. United (+10000)
Houston Dynamo (+10000)
Inter Miami (+12500)
FC Cincinnati (+25000)
Vancouver Whitecaps (+25000)
Nashville SC (+30000)

West Ham – Wolves: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

Leave a comment

West Ham – Wolves: David Moyes will be watching from home after testing positive for COVID-19, though he reportedly remains asymptomatic, when his West Ham United side welcomes Wolverhampton Wanderers to the London Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 2 pm ET, online via Peacock).

WEST HAM – WOLVES STREAM LIVE

In recent history, West Ham have had an absolutely torrid time against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side since they won promotion from the EFL Championship. The Hammers have found the back of the net zero times, and collected zero points, in four meetings since Wolves returned to the Premier League.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of West Ham – Wolves this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: West Ham – Wolves (INJURY REPORT)

West Ham – QUESTIONABLE: Issa Diop (COVID-19), Josh Cullen (COVID-19)

Wolves – QUESTIONABLE: Fernando Marcal (undisclosed) | OUT: Jonny (knee)


What they’re saying: West Ham – Wolves

Stand-in manager Alan Irvine, on Moyes’ absence: “I’ve spoken to him several times this morning. He is not feeling any symptoms and hasn’t felt them any way through, so obviously it’s a bit frustrating for him, but he’s fine and he’s getting on with other things. Of course, David will be the manager and everything we do will be run through him. He will make the decisions on everything.”

Nuno Espirito Santo, on facing a team with COVID-19 cases: “We are not concerned, I wish David and the players the fastest recovery. What happened to West Ham can happen to any one of us. It’s tough when you are preparing for a game and you cannot be on the touchline. Now we’re not concerned, we’re confident and we trust the authorities to keep things safe for us.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Everything points to a win for Wolves (+105) with West Ham (+270) made slight home underdogs, which should spell out everything you need to know about the Hammers. Best-case scenario for Moyes and Irvine would be to snatch a draw (+240).

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: West Ham – Wolves

West Ham might get out of the starting block at some point this season, but Wolves are hardly the ideal opponent you want to see when you have zero points and very few positives to start the season. Misery begets misery, and West Ham are in for a bit more. West Ham 0-2 Wolves.


How to watch West Ham – Wolves stream and start time

Kickoff: 2 pm ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Man City – Leicester: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

Leave a comment

Man City – Leicester: Pep Guardiola will have just 13 first-team players at his disposal when Manchester City hosts Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 am ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

MAN CITY – LEICESTER STREAM LIVE

With a combination of injuries and confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently ravaging an already-thin squad, City have no choice but to tread water and simply stay afloat in the coming days and weeks as they attempt to reclaim the Premier League title from Liverpool. It’s a difficult position to be in, no doubt about it, and Leicester should present a tricky challenge for Guardiola and Co., without the likes of Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan, among others.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Man City and Leicester spent much of the 2019-20 season second and third — and third and second — in the PL table, each looking up at Liverpool miles and miles ahead, before winding up second and fifth, respectively. City won each of the two meetings last season — 3-1 at home in December, and 1-0 away in February.

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Man City – Leicester this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Man City – Leicester (INJURY REPORT)

Man City – QUESTIONABLE: Ilkay Gundogan (COVID-19), Aymeric Laporte (COVID-19) | OUT: Bernardo Silva (thigh), Gabriel Jesus (undisclosed), Sergio Aguero (knee), Joao Cancelo (foot), Oleksandr Zinchenko (undisclosed)

Leicester – QUESTIONABLE: Demarai Gray (illness) | OUT: Cengiz Under (transfer clearance), Ricardo Pereira (knee), Jonny Evans (thigh), Filip Benkovic (groin), Wilfred Ndidi (groin)


What they’re saying: Man City – Leicester

Pep Guardiola, on Man City’s injury issues: “With the situation we have right now, we need players from the academy. We have just 13 players fit. With the problems we have up front, he will stay with us. We will use him. We cannot forget, like with Phil, he is only 17 years-old. He has a lot of things to improve. We cannot anticipate the progress of every young player. We’ve had Phil, Eric, Liam and we have Cole Palmer, who will be an exceptional player. We congratulate the academy. I am the last step, but before there are a lot of people in the club working for this and it is a big success for them.”

Brendan Rodgers, on how to improve Leicester: “Firstly, we have a number of young players who can improve. Last season, we showed lots of real potential in the squad. I always felt that two things would help us to improve and continue to develop this process. One of those was time. That means time to work with the players who are here, making them better year on year, particularly the young players. They will have gained from the experiences of last season — good and bad. Time will improve James Maddison. Time will improve Harvey Barnes. Consistency will make us better as well. That will come with the introduction of quality.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Perhaps a bit surprisingly given their ongoing injury issues, City (-350) are heavy betting favorites with Leicester checking in as massive underdogs at +850. The draw (+480) might just make for the perfect speculative wager this weekend.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: Man City – Leicester

City struggled to put away Bournemouth in the League Cup on Thursday, and will have largely the same group of players available on Sunday. Facing Leicester will be a significant increase in quality of opposition. Leicester might just get something out of this one and do Liverpool an early-season favor in the process. Man City 1-1 Leicester.


How to watch Man City – Leicester stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com