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Switched Up The Pattern: Chicago Red Stars vs Washington Spirit NWSL Week 23 Preview

Chicago Red Stars able to clinch playoff birth with win over Washington Spirit this weekend

Shaina Benhiyoun Photography

The Chicago Red Stars have returned from war with 3 victories. After tackling 3 games in 8 days, the squad is back for their final two regular season games at home.

Chicago will play host to Washington Spirit this Saturday with an opportunity to secure a playoff position Their most recent wins comes against Sky Blue FC where they won, 0-3 and set themselves on a new streak of wins after losing 3 matches just weeks ago. With 2 games remaining in their regular season, playoff positioning is still in play for a handful of teams. While that includes the Red Stars, the team has an opportunity to secure a playoff spot this weekend.

Washington are still very much alive in their hunt for the playoffs this weekend, and will need a win against Chicago to insure they stay on their path for positioning on the league table.

Where We Last Saw Them

Chicago and Washington last played each other back on August 10. The Red Stars were the on the road and were able to secure a victory against a very organized Spirit team achored by goal keeper Audrey Bledsoe. Casey Short served in a cross which connected with Yuki Nagasato on a header for the lone goal of the match. It marked the fifth consecutive win for Chicago at the time, their longest streak of the season.

Starting Lineup We’d Like To See

Before heading off on a multi game road trip last weekend, some Red Stars were hit with illness, leaving Arin Wright and Vanessa DiBernardo unavailable for selection. Along with a red card suspension to Katie Johnson, the week allowed us to see the Red Stars in slightly different player scenarios. Two games remaining on the schedule means the starting eleven moving forward truly needs to be the chosen ones. Time to clinch.

Keys To The Match

Goals for Success: Washington Spirit are the only team the Red Stars have failed to score multiple goals against. Their first meeting was a 0-2 loss, and their most recent match ended in a 0-1 win. While Kerr and Nagasato lead the team with a combined 22 goals, Chicago will want to keep their offense a mixed bag of tricks and get everyone involved.

Disorganized the Organized: Washington has played rather organized in front of Chicago in their prior matches with their lines defined and difficult to break down. Having a collective of offensive looks can help in breaking things down.

Clean Sheets: Audrey Bledsoe and the Spirit come to Chicago with 7 clean sheets on the season. While Alyssa Naeher has 6 to her name, the current back line rotation of Short, Davidson, Ertz, and Gorden account for 3 of those after this past week. Let’s see them get shutouts against other teams in the playoff hunt.

Players To Watch

Washington Spirit: Aubrey Bledsoe has the stats, but Mal Pugh is looking in form once again and Ashley Hatch has connected on goal for the Spirit 6 times this year.

Chicago Red Stars: They’re All Good Red Stars.

Wild Predictions

You should get to the stadium early and hang out with Chicago Local 134 at their co-tailgate with ESPN’s Sarah Spain. There will be good people, there will be food, there will be beverages, there will be an epic playlist, and there will be a meet and greet with Democratic congressional candidate Marie Newman.

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m. CT at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, IL

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Stream: Yahoo Sports

Final Thoughts

Do you think the Red Stars punch their ticket to the playoffs this weekend? Who do you think should start? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below!