After five long months of boring NWSL off-season the North Carolina Courage are back in camp. Over the next six weeks the best team in the league will integrate new players and strengthen old bonds ahead of their opening-weekend match against the Chicago Red Stars on April 15th. North Carolina had shockingly low turnover this winter. Forward Darian Jenkins was traded to Reign FC and defender Yuri Kawamura went back to Japan following her ACL injury at the ICC Women’s Tournament, but those were the only officially announced departures from the 2018 roster. The Courage added Swedish midfielder Julia Spetsmark and defender Ally Haran along with four players from the 2019 NWSL College Draft. The official roster will be announced later today.
The team will be missing most of their star players when camp opens. Abby Dahlkemper, Sam Mewis, McCall Zerboni, Jess McDonald, and Crystal Dunn are all still with the USWNT at the SheBelieves Cup. Merritt Mathias was also called into USWNT camp as an alternate, and she might still be there practicing with the team. Denise O’Sullivan is still participating in a pair of games with Ireland against Wales while Abby Erceg is playing in the Cup of Nations for New Zealand. Spetsmark was not called up for Sweden at the Algarve Cup, so she will probably be available on Monday.
The Courage will take part in six pre-season matches from March through April in preparation for the regular season. Last season all of the matches against collegiate teams were free admission, but that information has not been officially released yet. The first of those games will take place on Field 7 at WakeMed Soccer Park this coming Saturday - March 9th - against Clemson. The premier pre-season match will take place on March 23rd when the Orlando Pride come to North Carolina for the only NWSL competition ahead of the season opener. Those tickets are currently on sale in a bundle that will net you a seat at the Courage game, the North Carolina FC match against Necaxa, and a regular season NC Courage game.