Today’s the day! The Chicago Fire and the Chicago Red Stars are hosting a blockbuster doubleheader, taking on their Portland counterparts Timber and Thorns.
In collaboration with our friends at Stumptown Footy, we put together a Mixed XI of both Fire and Red Stars players. We’re biased, of course, but it looks like a pretty strong team!
We wanted to go for as balanced a team as possible, both in terms of gender— which isn’t exactly possible with 11 players, at least until nonbinary people are allowed to compete in professional sports leagues— and positional strength. We could pick any player on the roster for either team, even if they weren’t available for today. The Fire and the Red Stars are strong in the same three areas: striker, center midfielder, and outside back. From there, it was just trying to pick use the roster from one team to shore up weaknesses in the other. (Like, you know, goalkeeper.)
Here’s what we came up with.
Starting XI: Naeher; Vincent, Naughton, Kappelhof, Short; Katai, Schweinsteiger, Ertz, Huerta; Nikolic, Kerr
Bench: Sanchez, Polster, Johnson, McCarty, DiBernardo, Colaprico, Nagasato
Meanwhile, here’s how the opposition would line up, per Stumptown Footy.
Starting XI: Heath, Valeri, Chara, Horan, Sinclair, Blanco, Vytas, Sonnett, Menges, Klingenberg, Franch
Bench: Andressinha, Tuiloma, Valentin, Attinella, Farfan, Raso, Adi
Katelyn Best had this to say on their methodology:
We took a popular vote and ended up with a lineup that, positionally, more or less makes sense. Our starting lineup skews a little Thorns-heavy (probably because, you know, they’ve been more successful recently), but the 18 is evenly split. We had to move a couple players—notably Lindsey Horan at striker—to positions they don’t typically play, at least currently, in order to make everyone fit. This team, like the actual Timbers and Thorns teams, is thin on forwards, but hopefully the defense can contain Kerr.
We’re sure you have some Strong Opinions on this. Feel free to leave them in the comments below.