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Homecoming: Chicago Red Stars vs Portland Thorns, NWSL Week 2 Preview

It’s the home opener for Chicago Red Stars and you should be fucking hyped

Shaina Benhiyoun Photography

It’s “Sweet Home Chicago” for the Red Stars as they get ready for their home opener this weekend against Portland Thorns FC. It’s a double header for Chi-Town’s soccer teams, who will play in a double header with the Chicago Fire and the Chicago Red Stars featuring at SeatGeek Stadium this Saturday.

Spring is upon us and the weather forecast looks sunny this weekend. Which will hopefully lead friendly strikes on the pitch, but the Red Stars opponent on Saturday is more familiar foe than friend, as Chicago has not won a match against Portland since 2013.

Where We Last Saw Them

Portland and Chicago last faced off in Providence Park back in August 2018. It was the second game in a 3 game road trip for Chicago, and one that had playoff implications. In front typically large crowd, fans were treated to a wild four goal game as the two teams were vying for playoff seeding. The match would end in a 2-2 draw, as Sam Kerr, Tobin Heath, and Christine Sinclair would score on the night.

Starting Lineup We’d Like to See

As we saw last week against North Carolina, the coaching staff is looking to it’s veterans against the leagues top tier teams. Expect a similar lineup against Portland in light of the new additions to the injury report. Should Mautz be unable to start, Chicago can look to Katie Johnson instead. And look for Ertz in more of an 8 role playing out of the 6.

Keys To The Match

Left flank duty: Casey Short has typically been tasked with this assignment and the two have had some memorable moments on the pitch facing each other at the club level. However last week Short was out with a thigh injury as a precaution, will we see this match up again? Last week Sarah Gorden did a good job of marking Lynn Williams, and we could see her again this week, perhaps with Short on restricted minutes.

Who will mark literally everyone else: The league’s reigning MVP is off to another good start as Lindsey Horan reminds everyone that she is a crucial cog to Portland’s midfield. Caitlin Foord could cause some real problems for the backline as well, while Christine Sinclair ways finds a way to leave Chicago scratching their heads - as she reminded us in preseason when she was left unmarked in the box.

Block in or try to find Nagasato: Last week we saw Chicago play low, wisely, against North Carolina and not take too many risks instead of doing the effort to play out the back and leave more space for the Courage to attack. It earned them a point and we will see if the Red Stars have a similar plan against Portland, or if they try to open things up in front of the home crowd. Nagasato set up Kerr for last week's lone goal, and her teammates will have to help her create better offensive opportunities.

Players To Watch

Chicago Red Stars: Julie Ertz. Two teams with lots of strong center-mids, look for the captain to put in work this game.

Portland Thorns: Tobin Heath wants to destroy your flanks. And you will be impressed if she does, and Caitlin Foord since everyone will be watching Heath.

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday, April 20 at 2:30pm CT at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, IL

TV: NBC Sports Chicago (check your local cable provider for listings)

Stream: Yahoo Sports

Wild Prediction

A shutout.

Final Thoughts

Will you be at the game on Saturday? Who do you want to see in the Starting Lineup? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!