Preview: Chicago Red Stars (a).
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
When? Wednesday October 13, 5:00 p.m. PT, 8:00 p.m. ET and 1:00 a.m. BST (14/10).
Where? Toyota Park, Chicago, IL.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on Twitch for both domestic and international supporters.
*THIS PREVIEW IS AN EDITED VERSION OF THE PREVIEW FOR THE ORIGINAL FIXTURE, BEFORE IT'S POSTPONEMENT*
This is a must win game for the Orlando Pride. Particularly after their thorny outing in Tacoma and their humbling by Gotham FC the Pride will need some courage in Chicago. NWSL word play anyone? No, OK. Moving swiftly on... You've crushed my spirit. Womp.
The Pride have already bested the Red Stars this season, and there's no reason why they can't do the same again. The Red Stars are a decent side, and have been in fairly good form lately. But they're by no means impregnable. They currently sit 7th in the standings, 1 point ahead of ourselves. Their recent loss to OL Reign was their first in 6 outings.
Anyway, without further ado let's get stuck into what promises to be another fascinating encounter.
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As I've already alluded to, this isn't a team that's plundered hundreds of goals this season. They do score goals, though. Typically in clusters; they've scored in 14 of their 21 matches, with 7 of those games featuring 2+ goals (figure 1). That's 7 they've been scoreless in, however. Comparatively, Orlando have only failed to score in 3 matches, with Monday's debacle against OL Reign being the first time since July that Orlando failed to net. Somewhat ironically, that was against the same opponents. As long as we don't play OL Reign we'll probably score.
Anyway, back to Chicago. They're a team that isn't particularly good in transition, especially when in the opposing half of the field. Chicago's pass completion rate is 69.7%, with only 60.5% of passes in the opposing half finding their intended target. Which is interesting, because 45.3% of their passes go forward. This is a team that likes to move the ball forward and quickly. With that comes an element of risk, however. The likelihood of turning the ball over increases almost exponentially. Recoveries are going to be vitally important for the Orlando Pride, that's for sure.
Still, there's quality in this Chicago team. Which, perhaps, makes the aforementioned numbers all the more surprising. The likes of Kealia Watt, Mallory Pugh and Julie Ertz (out for this one) dot their roster. They also have one of the best goalkeepers in the league in Alyssa Naeher (also out). Oh, and they also have Danielle Colaprico... The Pride may need to make sure they don't tackle her. She might Tweet about it. Better not say more about that, I'm going to take a leaf out of Jose Mourinho's book now:
Figure 1 shows some of Chicago's goalscoring statistics on the season so far.
Figure 2 shows Chicago's passing statistics on the season so far.
Figure 3 shows some passing direction and accuracy statistics for Chicago on the season so far.
As I've already mentioned, according to the NWSL injury report, Chicago are without Alyssa Naeher and Julie Ertz. Other than that, they have a clean bill of health.
The Pride meanwhile, are certainly without Jade Moore and Viviana Villacorta. This game will also be too soon for Emily Van Egmond as she awaits confirmation of her visa.
Possible starting XI
The Red Stars have been in good form of late, as such I don't anticipate any changes for the weekend. As such, I believe they'll line up as follows:
Watt is an interesting commodity right now. Typically a dynamic midfielder, she's being used as something of a false 9 right now. Which is a position I would argue suits her well. With 3 assists, 16 successful crosses and 23 key passes her creative influence is plain to see. She's also weighed in with 3 goals, converting 7% of her chances. Her dropping into the 10 then allows the likes of Rachel Hill (3 goals, 19 key passes) and Mallory Pugh (4 goals, 4 assists) to run in behind defences.
The only drawback to using the diminutive Watt as false 9 is that Chicago have to play a lot of their football in front of the defensive line. Which makes breaking lines more difficult and consequently leads to more risk taking; which might explain their high turnover numbers.
The Red Stars have lost 1 of their last 6 and are currently sat 7th in the league with a 8-5-8 record.
The Pride, meanwhile, are currently a point further back in 8th with a 7-7-7 record.
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