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What’s The Hook?: Orlando Pride vs. Chicago Red Stars, NWSL Week 22 Preview

Chicago has the opportunity to take control of their playoff destiny against this Saturday against Orlando Pride

Photo by Chicago Red Stars

The Chicago Red Stars hit the road against this weekend where they face Orlando Pride in one of their biggest matches of the season.

After two matches last week against Seattle and Portland where the Red Stars notched a pair of draws - their third in three matches - the Red Stars briefly sat in fourth place as playoff positioning winds down this season.

After some recent midweek matches, both Chicago and Orlando find themselves on the outside looking in at fifth and sixth place, respectively. Tomorrow’s game looks to be a season-defining match for both teams.

Where We Last Saw Them

Chicago and Orlando played each other last May. Orlando went up early with two goals within the first ten minutes of the half, before the Red Stars got one back via Sam Kerr in the 21st minute.

In the second half, Chicago would equalize on Kerr’s second of the match in the 60th minute. However, the scoreline would tilt heavily in Orlando’s favor as several substitutions from Tom Sermanni impacted the match as the Pride won the game 5-2.

Starting Lineup We’d Like To See

This is not the same team that played against Orlando back in May. They’re better. It didn’t have a Vanessa DiBernardo, or a Casey Short, or a Morgan Brian. If the collective mentality of Chicago these last few weeks has been that each game is a “playoff,” then this match is the one circled on the calendar.

And while it’s common knowledge that Draws Don’t Win Championships, it’s optimistic to believe that the Red Stars recent play among it’s draws could be building up to one of the more potentially satisfying wins of the regular season.

Here is who we want to see on the pitch racking up the three points.

Keys To The Match

Thought I got slammed: From smoke to rain, weather alerts have been a thing this season. It’s going to rain. But that’s Florida, and the Red Stars have been through it all this year. Besides weather conditions are so Week 4.

I got out that jam: For whatever reason down the stretch this season Orlando has found themselves in a bit of struggle for service in the final third. Whether it’s due to lack of chemistry or Marta no longer playing in the mid, Chicago will want to control the midfield in order to add onto Orlando’s woes.

Marksmen: With 12 goals on the season and coming off a brace, Sam Kerr is likely to have herself a handful taking a crack at Orlando’s backline and getting past Ashlyn Harris. Offense will have to be a family affair in this one.

Win The Game: Literally. Pop out and count it up.

Players To Watch

Orlando Pride: Dani Weatherholt. With big names like Marta and Alex Morgan on the roster it’s easy to overlook the players putting in the work for Orlando. Weatherholt has been one of those players for Orlando this second half of the season.

Chicago Red Stars: She nearly came away with a game winner against Portland last week, so we’ve got Vanessa DiBernardo on the radar this weekend.

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday, August 25 at 6:30 pm CT at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, FL

Stream: NWSLsoccer.com | NWSL app

Final Thoughts

Do you think this match is a must win for the Red Stars? Will They walk away with three points and make their playoff destiny clearer? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!