WHAT IS THE WOMEN’S CUP?
The Women’s Cup is a four-team tournament taking place this week at Lynn Family Stadium, home of Racing Louisville FC. Joining Racing are the Chicago Red Stars, FC Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. On Wednesday, August 18th, Louisville and the Red Stars will play a match that counts toward the NWSL regular season standings and the two European clubs will face off against one another.
These games will act as semi-finals, with a final and third place game to be held on Saturday, August 21st.
This is not to be confused with the Women’s International Champions Cup (which was a problem, as the original name was the International Women’s Cup before the WICC took issue with the similarity) which will happen simultaneously in Portland and feature the Portland Thorns, Houston Dash, Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE RED STARS?
The tournament creates a very busy week for the Red Stars. Ordinarily, following Sunday night’s 1-0 road loss to North Carolina, they would have returned to Chicago before traveling to Louisville later in the week for a game on Saturday. Instead, they’ve remained on the road and will now play three games in seven days. Given the importance of every NWSL game in trying to make the playoffs and the current stresses on the squad caused by injuries and the absence of national team players, this sort of schedule crunch will ask a lot of the Red Stars.
“All we can do is play what’s in front of us,” said Red Stars head coach Rory Dames after Sunday’s game. “Tonight was the priority tonight, we’ll see who recovers by Wednesday. We still have to be careful with Kealia [Watt} and Mal [Pugh] and what we ask of them. So we’ll get to Wednesday morning when they wake up in Louisville, we’ll see who feels what, and we’ll go after that game. And then I think the Saturday game, regardless of which game it is, we’ll have some opportunities for some players that have been training really hard for a long time and haven’t been able to get a lot of minutes to get some minutes.”
He mentioned that Danielle Colaprico, Katie Johnson, Alyssa Mautz and Arin Wright (all who were listed as questionable for Sunday’s game) all played more minutes than was ideally intended. The Red Stars don’t lack depth in terms of quantity, and those players further down the depth chart will have the chance to show their quality in Louisville.
“I think this is when we rely on the whole team,” said Mautz. “We’ll be rotating players, which we have a deep bench so they’ll be no difference when we go into the next game; we’re gonna be just as strong and we’re very confident in that.”
Look for Zoey Goralski, Sarah Luebbert, Zoe Morse and Ella Stevens (who have all played less than 70 total minutes this season) to get extended run-outs, particularly in the second game. It could also be an opportunity for Bianca St. Georges as she continues to work back to full fitness, as well as players like Makenzy Doniak and Nikki Stanton who have played limited minutes this season.
HOW HAS LOUISVILLE FARED SINCE THEIR WIN IN BRIDGEVIEW BACK IN JUNE?
From a Red Stars perspective, the less said about the team’s first ever game against Racing Louisville the better. Over their last six games, Louisville’s lone win was at home against struggling Kansas City. They’ve drawn with Orlando and Gotham and lost to Portland, Washington and OL Reign. They currently sit in ninth place, comfortably 8 points above KC and just three behind Houston in eighth.
The most notable change to the team is the addition of veteran Danish forward Nadia Nadim, who already has two goals in four games. Nadim could face off with old friends this week, having played 36 games and scored 21 goals for PSG.
THE OTHER SIDE (OF THE POND)
PSG are coming off a historic season, winning the French league for the first time and becoming the first team other than Lyon to be crowned as champions of France in 15 years. The Women’s Cup will serve as their final two preseason friendlies before beginning the Division 1 Feminine season on August 29th vs Fleury 91. The only two players to outscore Nadim for PSG last season were French international starts Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani, who combined for 34 goals and 17 assists.
FC Bayern were also crowned as champions in 2021, winning the Frauen-Bundesliga for the fourth time. They also begin their league campaign on August 29th, against Werder Bremen. Their player to watch will be rising German international star Lea Schuller, who already has 13 goals in 28 caps for Germany. The 22-year old scored 16 goals and added 5 assists in 20 league matches last year. Fellow up-and-comer Sydney Lohmann (20) added 10 goals and 5 assists from midfield.
SCHEDULE AND HOW TO WATCH
All four games will be broadcast on Paramount+. However, if the NWSL match ends in a draw the team who advances in the tournament will be determined by penalty kicks which *would not* be shown on the NWSL broadcast according to information provided during the broadcast of Sunday’s game between the Red Stars and North Carolina. The full schedule is below
Wednesday, August 18th
Paris Saint-Germain vs FC Bayern Munich 4:00 PM CT Paramount+
Racing Louisville vs Chicago Red Stars 6:30 PM CT Paramount+
Saturday, August 21st
Third Place Match 2:00 PM CT Paramount+
Championship Match 5:00 PM CT Paramount+