Preview: Chicago Red Stars (h).
Updated: Oct 29, 2021
When? Friday October 29, 4 p.m. PT, 7 p.m. ET and midnight BST (30/10).
Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL. How can I catch the action? This game will be broadcast on Twitch for both domestic and international supporters. Whilst this game isn't quite a dead rubber, with Chicago technically needing a result to cement their place in the play-offs, it does harbour a sense of 'after the lord mayor's show' for the Orlando Pride. A season that has promised so much, has ultimately delivered very little. Another season has passed where Orlando is left without an invitation to the post season party. People will say 'wow, look at our team spirit', 'I love this team'. And that's great. The fact remains, however, this team failed. And they'll know that as much as anyone else. This is a team loaded with winners. They want to win.
Apologists will point to the change in coach, amongst other things. That excuse doesn't wash with me. Was it a factor? Of course. But no club has had more turmoil than the Washington Spirit. And look at them right now. This is going to be a telling off-season for the Orlando Pride. This squad has a strong nucleus of players, and with the right coaching appointment and effective recruitment, can be dining at the top table this time next season. As for 2021, the Pride will just be hoping to sign off with a positive performance and result.
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Chicago's style The Red Stars aren't a great team in terms of ball possession; posting an average percentage of 44%, and a pass success rate of 69.4%. They are, however, a team that is effective in transition. They recover the ball well, winning 50.9% of their duels and 60% of their tackles. This is a team capable of winning the ball all over the park; as they showcased in their recent victory over Kansas City (figure 1). This enables them to transition from defence to attack quite quickly and could be a contributing factor towards their less than stellar possession statistics. Oftentimes, they win the ball in advanced positions, so a higher percentage of their passes are happening in forward areas, which means more high risk passes are being played. Indeed, the stats back that up with a whopping 45.8% of their passes going forward (figure 2). This team goes from defence to offence very quickly.
Figure 1 shows Chicago's recovery/interception positioning matrix from their win over KC.
Figure 2 shows Chicago's passing direction percentages on the season so far. Team news
Possible starting XI *This projected team was chosen before the late additions to the injury report for both teams.
Chicago moved away from the false 9 system they have deployed in recent weeks, against. This allowed them to operate with more of a focal point in attack. Although the false 9 was effective against Orlando, I think they'll need an out ball at Exploria Stadium. As such, I can see them lining up a little something like this:
Kealia Watt continues to be one of this club's main offensive protagonists. Watt has 4 goals and 4 assists on the season. She has amassed 1,813 minutes across 21 starts and 2 substitute appearances. Her creative influence is easy to see, she's a direct player with a keen eye for a pass. Her 28 key passes and 18 successful crosses undoubtedly attest to that.
Chicago are 10-5-8 on the season having won 3 of their last 4 games. They currently sit 4th in the standings with 1 game remaining.
The Pride, however, have been in rotten form a recent run of 4 consecutive defeats has seen them eliminated from play-off contention.
*All statistics courtesy of nwslsoccer.com
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