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The Trees Are Too Damn High: Portland Thorns vs. Chicago Red Stars, NWSL Week 21 Preview

Will the Red Stars get a victory on their West Coast road trip?

Nikita Taparia/Stepover FC

The Chicago Red Stars continue their Cascadian tour as they play against the Portland Thorns this Saturday at Providence Park. The Red Stars have a quick turn around as they just played against Reign FC in Seattle where the two teams played to a 0-0 draw.

The match result has made Chicago level with Orlando in total points (30), but remain in fifth place on the table just outside of playoff positioning due to Orlando holding the first tiebreaker over Chicago with head to head play on the season.

The Red Stars will continue their battle for playoff positioning in Portland, a place they have historically not been able to come away with results (CRS has not won a game in Portland since 2013). Both teams find themselves in different places as they meet for their third and final regular season matchup.

Where We Last Saw Them

Chicago and Portland played to a 1-1 draw back on June 16th. The Red Stars were missing several players due to a pending trade while the Thorns were missing players due to injury including top Goal Keeper Adrianna Franch.

After a foul on Sam Kerr in the box, Yuki Nagasato stepped up for a penalty kick. As her attempt was saved initially, Nagasato connected on the rebound to give Chicago a lead into halftime.

Portland would find the equalizer quickly into the second half as Lindsey Horan connected on a free kick service after slipping through Kerr and Gilliland in the box and both teams walked away with a point on the table.

Starting Lineup We’d Like To See

Player rotation would be nice, but could quickly become a myth as the season winds down for Chicago and the playoff window gets smaller. All hands on deck for this one, let’s get wild and push Brian higher and for the love of everything Chicago, play Nikki Stanton.

Keys To The Match

West Coast Cousins: Portland and Chicago have both found themselves on similar paths into playoff contention this season. Whether it’s been schedule struggles, or having to work players in and out of their rotation, both teams seem equipped to make a postseason run - but will have a real test against each other. Two talented teams and a big crowd, expect an intense match from the opening whistle.

Flank v Flank: Red Stars fans will be relieved to hear that Casey Short is not listed on the injury report after being subbed off Wednesday as a precautionary measure. Portland has been impressive with their flank play as of late, and Chicago will have to match that.

Players To Watch

Chicago Red Stars: Whoever is tasked with Tobin Heath, bless you. However, Nikki Stanton Should be a player to look out for. While it remains to be seen if she will start, Stanton was largely responsible for keeping Thorns captain Christine Sinclair mostly irrelevant in the last matchup between these two. Let’s see if she can do it again under the lights in PDX.

Portland Thorns: Lindsey Horan. Lindsey Horan. Lindsey Horan. And then probably Lindsey Horan. Thorns Australians will be on display as well with Ellie Carpenter, Haley Raso, and now Caitlin Foord.

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday, August 18 at 9:30 pm CT at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon

TV/Stream: ESPNnews | NWSLsoccer.com | NWSL App

Final Thoughts

Are you confident in the Red Stars as they head into Saturday? Will Chicago come away with a result in PDX? Who do you want to have an impact on the match? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!