Following a four-game away stretch that began in the middle of August, the Red Stars are finally back at home to take on the Kansas City Current this Wednesday. The Chicago Red Stars go into this match unbeaten in their last two, having tied a quality OL Reign side by a score of 2-2 in their last match.
Although the Red Stars finally look like they are trending upward in this final stretch of the season, the team still desperately needs to convert that into points from their final four games of the season to secure their playoff spot.
Right now, the Red Stars sit in sixth place: the league’s final playoff spot. But Chicago is far from being considered a playoff shoo-in. 7th placed Angel City are just one point behind the Red Stars, while 8th placed North Carolina Courage sit five points back, with both sides having a game in hand on Chicago. Wednesday’s game will be one of Chicago’s toughest tests this season as they take on Kansas City, who currently sit top of the league.
Chicago Red Stars record vs Kansas City Current: 3W-2D-2L
After losing four of their opening five games this season, the Current have gone unbeaten in their last thirteen league matches. This massive turnaround has propelled Kansas City to the top of the league, and have turned into an unbeatable side this season in the NWSL. What makes the Current dangerous is their ability to rely on multiple attacking players for goal output. Kristen Hamilton, CeCe Kiser, and Lo’eau LaBonta all lead the team with six goals each this season, and will all be looking to threaten the Chicago goal on Wednesday night. Although the Current’s playoff spot is already pretty much guaranteed for this season, the Current will be looking to continue their unbeaten run to receive the first-round bye that is awarded to the top two teams in the league.
Alyssa Naeher was arguably the Red Stars best player in their last game against the OL Reign. With some phenomenal stops, Naeher was instrumental in getting Chicago a point in what was a very tough away match. The back three should stay the same as from the OL Reign match, and the four across the midfield in my opinion should be with Colaprico and DiBernardo centrally, with St-Georges and Luebbert playing as the team’s wingbacks. Following duty with the USWNT, Mallory Pugh was only given 45 minutes off of the bench against the Reign. After a full week back in training with the Red Stars, Pugh should be starting Wednesday’s match alongside forwards Ava Cook and Yuki Nagasato.
Keys to the Match
Staying Hungry: The Red Stars will have to want this game more than their opponents if they want to get a result. Given how dominant the Current have been this season, the Red Stars will have to outwork their opponents both in and out of possession to make up the difference in quality/form. Not only should Chicago be spurred on by the fact that they are coming up against the league leaders, but also by the fact that they are in a very tight playoff race where every single point counts.
Making it Count: Las time out, the Reign dominated the scoring chances, especially in the first half. However, the Red Stars were opportunistic and capitalized on their few opportunities. Goals from Ella Stevens and Danielle Colaprico had the Red Stars grind out a gritty 2-2 draw away from home. The Red Stars will have to continue this efficiency in front of goal, and with the reinsertion of Mal Pugh into the starting eleven, the Red Stars should find goals even easier to come by.
How To Watch
Date + Time: September 14, 7:00 P.M. CST
TV: The U
Stream: Paramount +, Twitch (international)
The Red Stars will know how crucial and how difficult a match this will be. The Current’s three-and-a-half-month-long unbeaten streak should give the away side confidence going into this match.
However, the Red Stars too should feel confident in their abilities and especially in their attacking assets, who seem to be finding form in front of goal. In what will most certainly be a tough and hard-fought match.