This week, in the finale of this season’s trilogy of games, the Chicago Red Stars will face the Orlando Pride. Both teams have faced each other twice this season with Chicago taking both victories. In this final match-up, the Red Stars will try to get the job done as the visiting side this week after NWSL play resumes from a short FIFA break. The Red Stars and the Pride each have players returning from the current Tournament of Nations, where the United States National Team finished second overall.
With the second half of the season in full swing, both teams will look to continue their NWSL seasons with a win. Orlando is currently in the middle of the table, and will need a result in order to stay in the playoff hunt.
Where we last saw them
Back in Week 15, Chicago beat Orlando 2-1 at home in Toyota Park. The victory put the Red Stars in first place standings, thanks to a brace from Chicago captain Christen Press. The win improved the all-time record against Orlando to 4-0-0, but Orlando ended the game strong with a late game goal from Alanna Kennedy, the first for Orlando against the Red Stars.
Starting line up we’d like to see
In typical Chicago fashion, their injury report is listed as “none.” That includes: a Sam Johnson back from a concussion, a Julie Ertz knee collision with a goal post, and a handful of 90 minute games in a short time span for Alyssa Naeher, Christen Press, and Casey Short.
So for the sake of player rotations, we wouldn’t mind seeing a line up similar to prior matches against Orlando. In fact we want to see Rory Dames rest all national team starters (likely won’t happen though) ala Greg Popovich. Think that’s crazy? Dames did give Rookie Lauren Kaskie her first start against Marta and the Pride.
Still think we’re insane? So are the Red Stars injury reports this season. Shout out to good training staff everywhere.
Keys to the match
Contain Marta (again)
One of our keys to the match in the last game hasn’t changed this week. Alex Morgan has returned, and scored for the Pride, but someone must get her the ball. While Marta is more than capable of scoring on her own, she can also create plays for her teammates. Keeping her possession to a minimum is never an easy task, but essential to slowing down Orlando’s attack.
Feed the captain
Even though we want national team players to get a rest, it’s likely they will see playing time in some capacity. Given her goal history against Orlando (4 of 5 Chicago goals), Christen Press netted a brace against Orlando in the previous match, her 2 goals came via world class service from Jen Hoy and Sofia Huerta.
While Press has often been tasked with creating and leading the offensive press for the Red Stars, Chicago is strongest when Press is finishing their attack. Feed the captain the ball.
Battle of the mids
While Julie Ertz isn’t listed on the IR, her NWSL action this week might be on a minutes restriction, similar to when she played with illness before the FIFA break. Look for players like Danielle Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo, Alyssa Mautz, Taylor Comeau, Sofia Huerta, and even rookies Lauren Kaskie and Morgan Proffitt to see some action in the midfield this weekend. Orlando has had the better of possession in prior matches, so Chicago will want to establish their midfield presence early.
How To Watch
Kickoff: Saturday, August 5, 6:30 p.m. CDT; Orlando City Stadium
How to Watch: go90
Will Chicago make it a series sweep against Orlando this season? Who do you think will start in this match? Will Chicago remain in first place after the weekend? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!