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Third Time’s a Charm? Houston Dash vs Chicago Red Stars, NWSL Week 1 Game Preview

Three points or bust, baby

W-League Rd 14 - Adelaide v Sydney Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Chicago Red Stars will play the Houston Dash for their season opener for the third time in as many years, and will try to sneak points from the hosts for the first time in Week One. (It certainly helps that they aren’t going to be facing former captain Christen Press, as previously thought.)

With most of their starting lineup in limited use due to injury or international duty, the Red Stars are going to have to keep compact and focused to keep Houston off the board, and give themselves some breathing room before their week 2 clash against reigning NWSL champions, the Portland Thorns.

How Are We Feeling?

It’s more than likely that this match will see the Red Stars operating without mainstays and standouts like Julie Ertz, Vanessa Dibernardo, Yuki Nagasato, Casey Short, and Sam Kerr. Ertz, Nagasato, Dibernardo, and Short are all dealing with short-term (to maybe less short-term) injuries picked up in USWNT duty and in pre-season, and Kerr is likely to miss the first five weeks of the season whilst on her own World Cup Qualifying journey with Australia. All the depth the Red Stars have acquired over the past few months is going to have to be utilized to help the team grind through the first couple of matches of the season, and hopefully everyone on the roster can stay healthy from here on out.

Starting Lineup We’d Like to See

More than anything, let’s not push anyone who isn’t feeling 100 percent. Summer Green and Michele Vasconcelos have shown well in pre-season, and the back-line has been held well by the established partnership of center-backs Katie Naughton and Sam Johnson. I’d personally start winger Arin Gilliland up forward a bit more to get her involved in the offensive action early, and try to steal a quick goal from a less meshed Houston team. Taylor Comeau has also proved herself helpful on the wing, while Sofia Huerta has a chance to carry what she’s learned from USWNT camp into NWSL play at forward. Add midfield anchor Danny Colaprico and USA #1 keeper Alyssa Naeher into the lineup and the Red Stars have a real chance to escape this match unscathed.

Keys to the Match

What kind of Houston is gonna show up?

The Dash are a mostly unknown entity at the moment, and while they’ve shown flashes of both competence and brilliance in the pre-season, it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of game they bring against the Red Stars, and if any of their starters can get traction against a more established squad.

Let’s get some goals

Regardless of what Houston brings to the pitch, it’s going to be key for the Red Stars to start quickly, and try to build goal-scoring prowess while they can. For a team that ended their 2017 campaign with only a +3 differential, a fluid style that leads to more goals will go a long way in proving that this squad can go all the way.

Projected Lineups

How to Watch

Kickoff: Sunday, March 25th at 4:00pm CDT at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.

Stream: Go90 app

Final Thoughts

Do the Red Stars have what it takes to shake off their Week One boogeyman? Let us know in the comments!