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Ghost Of You: Chicago Red Stars @ Washington Spirit, NWSL Week 20 Preview

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Can Chicago get back to their winning ways on the road?

Photo via Chicago Red Stars

The Chicago Red Stars kick off the final five games of the season on the road against the Washington Spirit. The Red Stars, still in 3rd place in the NWSL standings but currently on a 3-game losing streak, will look to bounce back against the Spirit.

Chicago has previously been undefeated at home, but have lost their last three games at Toyota Park. The Red Stars have five games left in the regular season— four of them on the road. Tomorrow’s clash in Maryland might be what the team needs to get themselves back on track as the season winds down.

The Spirit are no strangers to season lows. They currently sit at the bottom of the NWSL table in 10th place. With this week’s business that brought Kristie Mewis to Chicago and sent Morgan Proffitt the other way, this next match got even more interesting. On paper, the odds appear in Chicago’s favor. Yet Washington is a team that can cause the Red Stars problems.

Where we last saw them

Both teams faced each other back in June. Chicago and Washington appeared to have little offensive opportunities, until the 41st minute when Francisca Ordega opened up the scoring with a goal right before halftime. The Red Stars would continue to try and get the ball past Stephanie Labbé, and the equalizer came in the from of a penalty kick from Christen Press.

Starting line up we’d like to see

I mentioned the trade and waive earlier, and earlier today Ralph Schudel wrote about how Mewis might fit into this Red Stars squad. While we’d love to see a game with Mewis and Proffitt get starts with their new teams, that seems unlikely. So, we expect the usual suspects lining up for Chicago.

Keys to the match

Finish fast

Last week against FC Kansas City, the Red Stars came out high and quick. The first 20 minutes of their match were very promising and the match began to open very quickly. So promising and open that Kansas City was able to split the backline and connect on goal, twice, before the half was over. Chicago eventually cut the lead in half with some great give and go between Julie Ertz and Yuki Nagasato. Chicago will want to try to press Washington’s back line as well, but connect on their opportunities.

Goalkeeping Elite

Stephanie Labbé has had an outstanding season this year. Despite the lack of club wins, her vision and net presence has been a silver lining for the team. She has the ability to make strong shots look like soft ones. So while getting through the Spirit backline might be easy some days, Labbé is a different factor all together. Chicago might need to make the extra pass if the option is available.

Speaking of Backlines...

Chicago has done a good job of not letting other teams get many chances on goal this season. However, over their last few games, minimal shots on Chicago’s goal have gone against them. Whether it’s due to player rotation or performance, the defense could use a good showing against the likes of Mallory Pugh and Estefania Banini.

For the love of all things Chicago please get a result

Not that this is an actual key, nor is this something that needs to be stated in a game preview. But with five games left, building strong games and adding points are necessary in a march into the playoffs. For the standings, for peace of mind, whatever. Get out of D.C. with a result.

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday, August 26th, 6:00pm CDT at Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex

Stream: go90 or NWSLSoccer.com.

Final Thoughts

Are you ready for Chicago to snap their unwanted streak? Who do you think will score this week? How do you think the Mewis trade will pan out for Chicago? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!