It’s the home opener for the Chicago Red Stars. Last week featured the first matches of NWSL action under the newly formed A + E Lifetime deal. The Red Stars visited the Houston Dash last Saturday and came away with an ‘L’ but will look to bounce back at Toyota Park this weekend. With a newly-launched rebrand and high expectations, Chicago is looking to gain their first points of the season against their Midwest neighbors FC Kansas City.
Where we last saw them
In one of the more intense 0-0 draws that the league saw in 2016, Chicago went into Kansas City needing only a draw to clinch their 2016 playoff berth. They were tested early on with significant injuries to Arin Gilliland and Stephanie McCaffrey within the first 25 minutes. Already thin in the back with an injury to Samantha Johnson, Katie Naughton and Sarah Gorden provided depth for Chicago. The game was won in large part due to outstanding goalkeeping by Alyssa Naeher, who faced 8 shots, with 4 on target.
You remind me of a girl that I once knew
This will be sixteenth time the Red Stars face off with the Blues. Chicago’s regular season record against FC Kansas City is 5W-4L-4D. The teams are more than familiar with each other, they even have history between them with matches in preseason and playoffs in years prior. Both teams tend to play to each other’s strengths. Strong goalkeeping and strong forwards are always on display, and will be again with names like Alyssa Naeher, Nicole Barnhart, Christen Press and Sydney Leroux on the pitch.
In one of the more heartbreaking stories of opening week, FC Kansas City will be without Amy Rodriguez. Rodriguez is out for the season after tearing her ACL 57 minutes into the game, just 6 minutes after scoring in her return to NWSL after maternity leave. The last time Amy Rodriguez was in Toyota Park, she led FC Kansas City to victory in the 2015 Semi-Final against the Red Stars.
Possible Starting Lineup
Three Keys to the Match
There were two 0-0 score lines last season out of the four times these teams faced each other. Chicago’s forward core will need to find their finishing early in this match if they want to set the tone of the match. Last week against the Houston Dash, Chicago was able to establish some good possession and passing, but the Red Stars were unable to connect on their opportunities. They will have to find their finishing this week against both Becky Sauerbrunn and Nicole Barnhart, the final third will be no easy task.
Out-Mid the Midfield
Establishing good run of play will help lead to better opportunities on goal for the forward core. Kansas City still in the early stages of trying to establish their own midfield while having to cope this season without Heather O’Reilly. Chicago should look to maintain possession early and hopefully create some good offensive opportunities
Contain Shae Groom
While trying to out mid the midfield, the same goes for disrupting the early chemistry of the Blues’ forward core. While the return of Sydney Leroux will be no easy task, the last time Shae Groom was in Toyota Park she netted two goals that gave Kansas City the victory. Last week against Boston, Groom assisted on Amy Rodriguez’s goal. Danielle Colaprico and Co. will have their work cut out for them.
How To Watch
Kickoff is Saturday at 3pm C.T. You can catch the game on everyone’s favorite new app Go90. Much has been said about the new streaming platform for NWSL games this season. There have been some complaints and some praise, and updates are still being worked on for NWSL games on Go90. You can find the app available for download on Google Play and iTunes. If you have a Google Chromecast you can easily view the game on your TV by casting through the Go90 app.
Too complicated for you? You can miss all the live action and view it later on Go90. The game will be available for 2 hours after streaming on Go90 before being archived on NWSL website 48 hours after airing for future viewing.
Still too complicated for you? Well catch up and try to enjoy because this is women’s soccer now.
Are you already in a panic after last week’s loss to Houston Dash? Do you think the Red Stars will get the win their home opener? Do you think the re-brand will lead to growing attendance for this year? Leave your comments below!