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All We Got: Chicago Red Stars @ Portland Thorns, NWSL Week 24 Preview

The Red Stars look to close out the regular season strong in what could be a playoff prologue

Photo via Chicago Red Stars

The Chicago Red Stars will visit their potential semi-final hosts in the last match of the regular season. The Red Stars were able to clinch their playoff spot last week against the Houston Dash. A win or a draw against the Thorns this weekend will likely mean they face Portland again for the semi-final. Chicago currently hold a tie breaker over Orlando.

Last season, the Red Stars found themselves in a similar situation last year when they played Washington Spirit in the final week of the regular season, before heading to D.C. to meet them in the semifinal.

However, if Orlando wins their final regular season game against North Carolina, and Chicago loses against Portland, the Red Stars would end up as the fourth seed and face the Courage in the semi-final.

Where We Last Saw Them

Chicago and Portland last met back in August during week 16. Fans in Bridgeview were witness to a thrilling match that saw the Red Stars and the Thorns tied 2-2 heading into the halftime. This game had everything. It had goals, it had defensive breakdowns, it had a hair pulling incident that resulted in a no card, EVERYTHING. Except a win. A second half set piece header from Emily Sonnett would seal the victory for Portland, and the Red Stars wouldn’t get a win until three weeks later.

Starting line up we’d like to see

It’s not August any more. The Red Stars head into Portland undefeated in their last 4 games. And the Thorns are just as dominating going undefeated in their last 5 games. While we wouldn’t mind player rotations for the sake of it, it could be beneficial to give the usual suspects another round before the semifinal. With no Yuki Nagasato available due to a red card suspension, look for to Mautz to get a start again.

Keys To The Match

Players to watch

Lindsay Horan has been playing exceptionally well down the stretch of this season. Portland’s captain Christine Sinclair has made Chicago’s backline look foolish on more than one occasion. Look for both players to have an impact on the game offensively. Biggest Thorn in the side? Emily Sonnett. She played the game winning hand ball off Press in week 1 and got the game winning header in week 16, check and mate.

Let’s get physical (but, like, not really)

While both these teams typically produce a physical game when they face each other on the pitch, it’s likely the tone of this match might be a bit different considering what’s at stake the following weekend. The game could be a good opportunity for players on both sides of the bench to show what they’ve got.

But if you could finish strong, that’d be great

No matter the seeding, or the result, heading into the playoffs with confidence is a must. So, while no one wants to end their season on a loss, the Red Stars will want to end their season with soccer they can build on into their semifinal.

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday, September 30th, at 3:00pm CDT at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon

TV: Lifetime

Final Thoughts

Will the Red Stars end their regular season with a victory? Do you want to see a particular semifinal match up? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!