The Chicago Red Stars will return to Portland just weeks after participating in a preseason tournament hosted by the Thorns. The preseason tourney also included the Houston Dash, and the U23 squad. Chicago is coming off a 1-0 win over FC Kansas City, they will look to build off their win against a Portland Thorns team coming off a loss against the NC Courage.
Where We Last Saw Them
The Red Stars recently faced the Thorns back in March for a preseason match. The match ended in a 1-0 loss, but the team came away with some positives to take into the regular season. The preseason game saw Head Coach Dames utilize the game as a test of depth, as several potential starters (Christen Press, Alyssa Naeher, Sofia Huerta, Jen Hoy) were excused celebrating the wedding of Red Stars team mate Julie Ertz (Johnston). All players returned for later games in the tournament.
In a game that showcased a bit of a “B-Squad,” the Red Stars appeared to play well in their attack, and the lone goal came off a penalty kick. The penalty itself appearing the result of a sloppy collision between both Allie Lone and Sarah Gorden. Both teams created opportunity, but the game ended by the deciding penalty.
A Rose Not So Sweet
The last time the Chicago Red Stars won a match against the Portland Thorns was in 2013. No, that’s not a typo. To date, Chicago’s record against Portland is 1(W)-4(L)-6(D). Granted, the Red Stars history as a team is one that is no stranger to draws in general. However, in an off season that has been heavily laced with championship expectations for both teams, this is a game that many will have their eyes on.
The match up will be featured as Lifetime’s game of the week. Coach Dames has already wasted no time in mixing up his starting eleven and with Chicago coming in as the visiting side, we will see if the coach will continue with the line up that saw time against Kansas City, one that saw Julie Ertz move to an attacking role for Chicago.
The Starting XI We Hope To See
Keys To The Match
Find the finishing
This early in the season, most teams are looking to execute their finishing. In their victory against Kansas City, Chicago had multiple opportunities to extend their lead but could not build on their one goal score, including a missed penalty kick from Christen Press. A beautiful ball served in from Huerta to Ertz was all that was needed. Chicago will have to stay committed to their attack in order to contend with forwards like Christine Sinclaire and Nadia Nadim.
Will Tobin Heath play?
At this time, it is unknown if the reigning assists leader will see time on the pitch. Heath has been dealing with a back strain. She has been in camps with the team and participating in practices, but it is undetermined whether or not she will start or be on limited minutes. The absence of Heath could determine the type the midfield we see from both teams. Which leads to the final key to the game.
Contain Allie Long and fight for the midfield
While Sinclaire can frustrate defenders, it’s the Thorns midfield that can cause problems for any team. Even without Heath, with players like Amandine Henry and Allie Long, Portland has the ability to hold down any midfield home or away. Long time Thorn, Long, is constantly involved in the attack for Portland. It was Long who earned the penalty for the Thorns against Chicago during the preseason match up. Players like Vanessa DiBernardo and Danielle Colaprico will have to dominate.
How To Watch
Portland v Chicago kicks off at 3pm Central and is Lifetime’s NWSL Game Of The Week this weekend. Fans who wish to watch can check their local cable listings for the Lifetime network. The Lifetime app is also compatible with various cable providers. Unable to watch live? All NWSL games will be available for viewing on the NWSL website 48 hours after airing live.
Do you still want to see Julie Ertz in the midfield? Will Tobin Heath play on Saturday? Be sure to leave your thoughts below in the comments!