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Tournament of Bye Weeks: Chicago Red Stars vs Sky Blue FC, NWSL Week 18 Preview

Despite missing several starters this week against a lower seeded team, is this Chicago’s game to lose?

Shaina Benhiyoun Photography

Catch the Chicago Red Stars in their penultimate home game this Saturday at Toyota Park. This week, the rest the NWSL is focused on the upcoming Tournament of Nations, but Chicago will be playing host to a Week 17 match against Sky Blue FC.

The New Jersey side is currently having a historically devastating season. Sky Blue FC sits in last place with no wins this year, along with recent revelations about poor conditions for players. A win against Sky Blue FC could place Chicago in second place on the NWSL table.

Where We Last Saw Them

Chicago faced Sky Blue FC back on July 7th. A road game that capped a 3 match week for the Red Stars, Chicago came away with a 3-1 victory on short rest and travel thanks to a hat trick from Sam Kerr.

Starting Lineup We’d Like To See

While both sides are missing personnel due to National Team duty, it’s the Red Stars who will be short handed with 5 key players out for Tournament of Nations. It’ll be back to the depth for Chicago this match - and with typical starters like Nagasato, DiBernardo, and Colaprico available - the Red Stars still have the roster for a result this weekend.

Keys To The Match

Backline vs Frontline: The Red Stars backline will go through a bit of a personnel shuffle this weekend, while the frontline for Sky Blue FC is building off momentum from their late game opportunities last week against Portland Thorns. Imani Dorsey, Savannah McCaskill, and Shea Groom will remain motivated against a short handed Chicago.

Big Time Stunnas: With Sam Kerr is away on National Team duty, it’s a question of who will get on the scoreboard for Chicago. Yuki Nagasato is likely to have a dual responsibility of assisting and creating goals, but players like Mautz, DiBernardo, Vasconcelos, White -among others - need to be present offensively.

Players To Watch

Sky Blue FC: Imani Dorsey has 2 goals and 1 assist over 7 matches for Sky Blue FC, and one of those goals came a few weeks ago against Chicago. Savannah McCaskill leads Sky Blue with chances created (18) and will likely be serving them up while taking her own chances, one of her 3 goals on the season also came against Chicago earlier this season.

Chicago Red Stars: Danielle Colaprico and Emily Boyd. Colaprico is second in the league for chances created with 40. Whether it’s from set pieces or work in the midfield, the Red Stars will need that service this weekend. Boyd recorded a shutout against Washington Spirit in a rainstorm for her rookie debut and will need another solid game this weekend.

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday, July 28 at 7:00 pm CT at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL

Stream: go90 app

Final Thoughts

Who do you think will be the playmaker for Chicago this weekend? Do you think this is a make or break game for the Red Stars? Will you attend the Tournament of Nations match at Toyota Park on Aug 2nd? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!