The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) will be the first North American professional contact team sports league to resume play since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. On Saturday morning, the NWSL Challenge Cup takes the pitch.
The Chicago Red Stars are one of four clubs in action Saturday. BetRivers has markets on all four matches in the tournament’s schedule over the next week.
NWSL Challenge Cup details, schedule
The Challenge Cup is a tournament that eight of the NWSL’s clubs will participate in over the next month. The Orlando Pride withdrew from the tournament earlier this week when six players and four staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.
The remaining eight clubs will each play four opening-round matches to determine seeding for the rest of the tournament. Each club will then play in the tourney quarterfinals on July 17 and 18, which begin knockout play.
Chicago’s schedule for the opening round is as follows:
- Saturday, June 27, 10 p.m. ET, v. Washington Spirit
- Wednesday, July 1, 12:30 p.m. ET, v. Portland Thorns FC
- Sunday, July 5, 12:30 p.m. ET, v. North Carolina Courage
- Sunday, July 12, 10 p.m. ET, v. Utah Royals FC
All matches will be played in Utah. CBS will air all opening-round matches and the final. Bettors can watch the quarterfinal and semifinal matches streaming live on CBS All-Access.
As of Thursday evening, the only legal Indiana sports betting app to feature markets on the tournament is BetRivers. There are many markets for the Red Stars’ first match against Washington at that sportsbook.
BetRivers odds for Chicago’s match Saturday night
All told, BetRivers has an impressive 23 separate wagering options for the Red Stars’ match against the Spirit on Saturday night. The range is quite impressive as well.
The three-way moneyline on the match’s result has Chicago +115. The sportsbook has four different lines on the goal total for the match, ranging from 1.5 to 4.5. The best odds are over 4.5 at +510.
If you’re willing to bet that both teams won’t score in the match, BetRivers will give you +115 odds on that wager. That scenario also represents some of the many options for a correct score wager.
Betting Chicago 1-0 in that market gives you odds of +750. There are 32 other possible score combinations that the sportsbook will accept wagers upon, however.
IN bettors looking for three-way spread, double chance, draw no bet, first-half only, and Asian lines will find what they want at BetRivers as well. The sportsbook also has one prop wager on whether the final score will be an odd or even number.
Given all the options, it’s necessary to do some research to determine what the best opportunities for making a profit are. Suffice to say, the Red Stars are the favorite for good reason.
Handicapping Chicago v. Washington
Since the Indiana Gaming Commission only cleared sportsbooks to offer NWSL wagers earlier this month, it’s unclear how many resources BetRivers has dedicated to sizing up these matches in that time span. That means a solid chance to win some bets.
The Red Stars were the championship runners-up in 2019 and return much of that roster for the Challenge Cup. There’s one huge absence from that roster, however.
Striker Sam Kerr left Chicago during the offseason and took a lot of offense with her. Trying to fill in those 18-goal cleats will be a committee of forwards.
Saturday’s match will be the first with the Red Stars for several of those new forwards, such as Makenzy Doniak, Rachel Hill, and Kealia Watt. Even if they take some time to settle on a rotation up front, Chicago’s talented and veteran midfield and backline should help them control possession. Additionally, Alyssa Naeher will still be in goal.
If the backline contains Spirit striker Rose Lavelle long enough for the frontline to get comfortable and take advantage of a Washington backline that was suspect in 2019, the Red Stars should record a victory to start off the tournament.
For IN bettors, that should inspire confidence in wagering on Chicago to win what might be a low-scoring match. If the Red Stars’ forwards can establish themselves, Chicago is a serious threat to win the Cup.