Boyds, Md. (9/11/20) – The Washington Spirit will face the Chicago Red Stars on their second game of the 2020 NWSL Fall Series on September 12 at 12 pm ET at Segra Field in Leesburg, VA. The game will be streamed live on Twitch.
The two teams most recently met during the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, where the Spirit came out on top 2-1 in their first game of the tournament. Despite falling to the Spirit during match-week one of the Challenge Cup, Chicago bounced back in a big way, making an appearance in the Challenge Cup final but ultimately falling short to the Houston Dash.
The Red Stars have reached the finals of the last two NWSL competitions (2019 regular season and 2020 Challenge Cup) but have fallen short on both occasions. This will be the Red Stars’ first match back since July, and after finishing in second place at the Challenge Cup, they will be looking to start the Fall Series on the right foot.
Like many clubs entering the Fall Series, Chicago has a collection of players who will be unavailable due to opt-outs or loan deals overseas. In total, the Red Stars have six players out on loan who will not feature this fall: Rachel Hill (Linköpings FC), Yuki Nagasato (Hayabusa Eleven), Makenzy Doniak (HB Køge), Emily Boyd (HB Køge), Kayla Sharples (Kuopion Palloseura) and Cassie Miller (Apollon Ladies).
With a few missing pieces not set to return until next season, Chicago likely will look for midfielders Vanessa DiBernardo and Savannah McCaskill to dictate their play down the middle, since they’ll be without a key chance-creator in Nagasato.
Along with DiBernardo and McCaskill, the Red Stars will be relying on their outside back, Bianca St. Georges, who, despite being a defender, scored one of the team’s five goals at the Challenge Cup. Apart from that, the two players are known for being a pivotal part of the Chicago attack, in which they will be looking to connect with forward Kealia Watt.
The Spirit didn’t start the Fall Series the way they would have wanted, as they fell short to Sky Blue FC 2-1 in the opening match. Now, the team will look to bounce back and aim to use their extra 90 minutes of game-time to their advantage against Chicago.
When speaking towards how the Spirit will approach the match, Head Coach Richie Burke said this: “We’re certainly going to play with a little bit more conservatism and a little bit more understanding of where our fitness levels are… Our team is virtually always set up to play proactively and we want to drive the tempo and drive the rhythm and drive how we play.”
Building up from their last match, the Spirit will be looking to take more control over the midfield through midfielder Bailey Feist, who could potentially get the support of midfielder Meghan McCool, who made her debut last match and was awarded Player of the Match via the Spirit Squadron, later in the game to impact it the same way she did last time. They will be in charge of connecting defense to attack, springing loose the likes of Kumi Yokoyama and Ashley Sanchez.