The NWSL season is officially entering the final stretch, as the final quarter of games await the Chicago Red Stars. Chicago currently sits in third place in the standings. With 6 games left, and after two straight home losses, the push for playoff positioning gets tighter this Sunday against FC Kansas City.
Chicago has recently dropped points against other playoff contenders in Portland and Seattle. However, both Chicago and Kansas City have had their seasons take different turns this year, with Chicago mostly in the upper half of the league table, while FCKC has had their struggles getting results. This weekend the Red Stars will try to renew their winning ways against a Kansas City team on a 2-game winning streak.
Where we last saw them
The last time both teams faced each other was back in April. It was Chicago’s first home game, and the introduction of Julie Ertz the center attacking midfielder, who scored the game winning goal. Chicago’s offense was still finding it’s form, while Kansas City was trying to get adjusted to a season without Amy Rodriguez. The match marked the first win of the Red Stars 2017 campaign.
Starting line up we’d like to see
The Red Stars are no strangers to player rotations this season, and despite the result against Seattle, back up Goal Keeper Michele Dalton had a solid game before late game defensive break downs resulted in 2 stoppage goals. Groin injuries are tricky, so we wouldn’t mind Alyssa Naeher getting additional rest this week, but won’t be surprised if she is in net.
Keys to the Match
Press high, Press strong
Chicago and Kansas City are coming off midweek games, so the possibility of this match starting off with a slower pace is a strong possibility. However, Chicago will want to try and come out and get their offense going early. When Sofia Huerta was rotated up top with Christen Press mid match against Seattle, there were more opportunities on goal. Putting Huerta back up top with Press should get the offensive pressure going in this match.
D-line, Best Line
It’s been a frustrating couple of games for the mighty backline of the Chicago. Center back gaps have been exposed the past two matches, and some injuries have started to settle in. The Red Stars will want to utilize this game to get back to their defensive form, but it won’t be easy against players like Sydney LeRoux and Shea Groom. Casey Short has been the MVP of the backline to date, look for her to have another strong game.
Short term memory, long term goal
With the season winding down, points for playoff positioning will be crucial. The Red Stars have yet to have consecutive losses this season, and will want to out these two losses behind them before they head out on the road again. Whether it’s a win or a draw, the Red Stars will want to produce a strong game and set the tone for the next series of matches.
How To Watch
Kickoff: Sunday, August 20, 5:00 pm CDT at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL
Are you on the verge of a compete nervous breakdown with the current two losses? Or are you cooler than a Chicago winter with the Red Stars last performances? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!