Last week the Red Stars celebrated a two-win streak over North Carolina Courage. Collecting three points at home put the Red Stars in second place in the league table. This week, Chicago will host Seattle, and hope that their winning ways continue before National Team players head off to participate in a pair of European friendlies against Norway and Sweden.
Who are the Reign?
Seattle Reign are coming into Chicago on a win from Houston. After a tough performance under the hot Houston sun, Seattle were able to leave Texas with three points. The Reign and head coach Laura Harvey will want to prove their current record against another top of the table team in the Red Stars. After high scoring wins against lower seeded teams like Houston and Washington, and draws in matches they should’ve won, a win against Chicago would only boost the Reign’s league standing.
Where we last saw them
Chicago’s overall record against Seattle is 4-3-4, but have found more success against the Reign in current seasons. Last year, Chicago won the first of their two 2016 matches on a brace from Jen Hoy.
When the two teams met again late last season, Seattle found themselves at Toyota Park needing a win to help their plight into playoff positioning. With two early goals in the first 10 minutes of the match from Manon Melis and Lauren Barnes, Chicago found themselves having to play from behind at home. Chicago would eventually equalize with second half goals from Sofia Huerta and Christen Press, essentially spoiling Seattle’s plans to stay in the playoff hunt.
Startling lineup we’d like to see
Rory Dames has rolled out the same personnel the previous two games, and the Red Stars played some impressive soccer. Given the recent flow and chemistry between those eleven players, we’d like to see it again this week (with maybe new international signing Yuki Nagasato as a sub in her first game)
Keys to the match
If you’re catching up to NWSL last minute, Nahomi Kawasumi is a bad ass. If you’re familiar with Naho, then you should know disrupting her play making for Seattle is crucial in collecting a win in Toyota Park. Kawasumi is currently leading the league in assist with 5. Chicago should look to contain Naho and control midfield possession against other players like Jess Fishlock and Christine Narin.
Goalkeepers for the win
While both squads are currently ranked top four in standing and in total goals, Sunday’s match could come down to backlines and goal keeping. Both Haley Kopmeyer and Alyssa Naeher are having excellent seasons to date. Kopmeyer is currently tied for second for most saves in league with 31, with a backline featuring Scottish international Rachel Corsie and team Captain Lauren Barnes. Chicago will be missing Arin Gilliland with a knee contusion, but strong starts for Samantha Johnson and Casey Short will be assisting Naeher on the backline.
Battle of the coaches
Chicago and Seattle will also feature a coaching match up Sunday. Both the Reign’s Laura Harvey and Red Stars Rory Dames have been coaching their respective teams since the NWSL began back in 2013, and have always spoke highly of each other. With such an even all time record (4-3-4) the coaches will be tested through their line ups, adjustments, and uses of subs.
How to watch
Kickoff: Sunday June 4, at 2pm CT. Toyota Park, in Bridgeview, IL
With multiple scorers for the Chicago now, who will get the goals Sunday? Will the Red Stars extend their win streak to 3 games? Will Seattle finally beat a top four team? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!