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The North Carolina Courage return to NWSL play - Kerolin rumors, new arrivals, and more

By Tyler Trent

Captain Denise O'Sullivan on the ball (Photo courtesy of NC Courage/Lewis Gettier)

With the 2023 Women’s World Cup coming to its conclusion, the North Carolina Courage and NWSL will return to regular season play. Despite being one of the most affected teams with World Cup absentees, the Courage won their NWSL Challenge Cup group to advance to the semi-finals, continuing their strong form this season.

The home stretch

The Courage return to league play Sunday, currently sitting on top of the table. They play second-place Portland Thorns in a crucial match-up as the top five teams in the league are separated by two points. The winner of the match could create a nice jump to start the return to league play. However, the losing team will not be out of the running with so many matches between the top teams left.

The Courage has a tough road ahead, with five of their seven remaining matches against teams currently in the top six, including three of those away from home.

  • @ Portland Thorns (#2)

  • Gotham FC (#3)

  • @ OL Reign (#4)

  • San Diego Wave (#6)

  • @ Washington Spirit (#5)

The Courage will also host the Chicago Red Stars and play away at the Orlando Pride in the last seven matches. In addition, the Courage will continue their NWSL Challenge Cup run on September 6th in a match against the Kansas City Current with a place in the final on the line.

Potential Kerolin departure?

Rumors have been circulating that Manchester United are looking to sign Kerolin in what would be a record-breaking transfer fee for the NWSL and closing in on the current record for women’s football period.

Coach Sean Nahas was asked about the rumors in a press conference, to which he replied:

“I will never comment on player decisions and things like that. That is a club thing. We are well aware of the rumors. I can tell you, be careful what you listen to. But at the end of the day, our expectation is that she is going to be here. Whoever is pushing these rumors, it is not us. I can tell you that.”

“We’re hopeful that Kero will be back, but other than that, I won’t speak on any stories that anyone other than the Courage are going to talk about because they are not in our camp, and those stories are just that, stories, until they become a reality.”

After the press conference, I was told by an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation that a deal is still in the works for Kerolin's transfer to Manchester United. Negotiations are expected to continue in the USA. I've been told that Kerolin is now back in the United States despite Instagram stories from Brazil.

The Courage has proven they can continue to play well without Kerolin, but losing her for the season's closing stages would be a significant blow regardless. There has been debate online about the rumored move and whether it is more likely to occur now or during the January transfer window in England.


The Courage has signed two Japanese internationals to the roster during the World Cup – Rikako Kobayashi and Manaka Matsukubo. With only a short time left in the season, it remains to be seen how quickly these exciting players can be integrated into the lineup, but signs are positive early.

Club captain Denise O’Sullivan praised the new signings this week, saying, "They are absolute ballers. I am excited to play with them.” While Manaka has only been with the team for a few days and Rikako for less than a week, they are already impressing the squad. To learn more about the two new Japanese signings, you can check out these Twitter threads created after the signings were announced.