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Red Stars to watch out for during tonight’s SheBelieves finale

Both literally and figuratively

New Zealand v United States Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The third annual SheBelieves Cup tournament is winding to a close, and the USWNT has their grand finale against England at 6pm CST, streaming on the ESPN News channel (good luck). While you may not end up seeing all four Red Stars on the current USA roster end up on the field tonight, there are three story-lines going into this one that Chicago fans are going to want to keep an eye on.

First off, are Julie Ertz and Casey Short ok? Ertz sat out Sunday’s match against France due to a banged up knee (even though it looked like the US could have definitely used her out there), though the extent of that injury wasn’t ever officially commented upon. And Short came in as a tactical sub late in the first half, doing a nice job until she came down awkwardly during an aerial challenge in the second and rolled her ankle so severely she had to be carried off the field.

However, as bleak as it might have seemed in the moment, news from the USA camp downplayed both injuries as not all that severe, though they’ll probably keep them out of the lineup for tonight’s match. So for now it’s a sigh of relief from the Red Stars, and here’s to not unnecessarily aggravating anything before the NWSL season begins.

Which brings us to Sofia Huerta. She’s been working as depth at outside back for the USA since being brought in last year, and saw the field a couple of times in 2017. However, when the US desperately needed that depth when Short went down on Sunday, instead of calling on Huerta, Jill Ellis had Crystal Dunn (another former outside back experiment) fall back and take that slot. This looked to be as good an indication as any as to Huerta’s spot on the current depth chart, but it’ll be interesting to see if injuries will demand she work her way in against England this evening.

And finally, Alyssa Naeher’s been looking pretty great in goal this week! It seems she’s taken the #1 keeper spot and isn’t looking back, and the absence of the injured Becky Sauerbrunn in the back line has forced her to be much more vocal in organizing a green center-back pair. She’ll likely get the start again tonight, and will look to close out a solid campaign strongly going into World Cup Qualifying later this year.