The Chicago Red Stars finish up their four-game road trip tonight. Chicago— with a win, a draw, and a loss on this swing so far— are coming off a goalless stalemate against the Boston Breakers last week that nonetheless briefly saw the Red Stars on top of the NWSL standings. It lasted for maybe half a day. But my, what a glorious half day it was. They’re currently second in the table and will look to maintain good standing into the latter half of the season.
The Red Stars finish their tour with a meeting against fellow Top Four rivals Sky Blue FC. The Jersey girls are coming off an impressive come-from-behind win thanks to their young striker Samantha Kerr. The Australian international was able to pull off a hat trick to give her team a 3-2 victory over FC Kansas City last week.
Where we last saw them
Sky Blue last visited the Red Stars back in June. After a very quick goal from Jersey, the game appeared to even out before the half. When the second half got underway, it was all Chicago as Vanessa DiBernardo’s equalizer ripped through defenders Mandy Freeman and Christie Pearce. Sofia Huerta followed up with a game winner that beat goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Jersey will want revenge this week while at home on Yurcak Field.
Starting line up we’d like to see
When the injury report was listed, CB Katie Naughton was listed as questionable due to illness. In the event Naughton is unable to play, we wouldn’t mind seeing Julie Ertz drop back in her former CB role, while Colaprico shifts back into the holding midfield slot. Let’s be real though— this is the NWSL and these players go hard. So it’s likely we’ll see the usual suspects out on the pitch in something like this:
Keys To The Match
Test out the backline
Recent injury reports have defender Mandy Freeman out with a left ankle sprain. A backline that has been held together this season thanks to captain Christie Pearce, has appeared pretty thin at defensive depth at times. However, rookie keeper Kailen Sheridan has been the standout for the Jersey defense. With Freeman out, Sky Blue will have a bit of a ‘next man up’ mentality for this match. Chicago will want to try and expose the gaps if they can find them.
Out mid the mid
While all eyes are on Sam Kerr, let’s not forget where all the work takes place. With a midfield that could hold names like Raquel Rodriguez, Daphne Corboz, and Sarah Killion, Chicago will want to establish their dominance in the midfield early.
Contain Kerr, Kerr, and Kerr
While Sam Kerr has been out breaking the hearts of opposing fans such as Portland and FC Kansas City, she wasn’t as much of an impact out on the pitch against Chicago back in June. That’s mostly due to the fact Chicago is home to best backline in the NWSL. The Red Stars will want to try and replicate their defensive performance this week in Jersey.
How To Watch
Kickoff: Saturday, July 15, 7:00pm EDT/6:00pm CDT, Yurcak Field (Piscataway Township, NJ)
Will Chicago continue their winning ways against top teams in the NWSL? Will they improve on their road record against a team that also plays well at home? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!