The Chicago Red Stars host the Orlando Pride for Week 14’s NWSL Lifetime match of the week. The Red Stars are back home after four games on the road, they earned five points during that stint. Yet they still sit in second place with 25 points. The last time these two teams met, Chicago held on till the very end to secure a 1-0 victory. Orlando’s squad has Alex Morgan back in their roster after her stint of overseas play and a hamstring injury. Morgan netted her first goal during the Pride’s dominant win over FC Kansas City. The match will be aired on Lifetime at 3:30 EST.
Lock down defense
While the Red Stars have one of the best forwards in the league, Christen Press, it has been their defense that has won them so many games. The backline is led by current U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper, Alyssa Naeher. In front of Naeher is Katie Naughton, Casey Short, Samantha Johnson, and Arin Gilliland. The Chicago defense has only let in 13 goals, that is tied for the second best in the league. Unfortunately, the defense is without Johnson this weekend, as she is out with a concussion. Together the Red Stars have earned five shutouts, including one from the last time they faced the Pride.
Recognition for Huerta
Red Stars forward, Sofia Huerta, has been a key to their attack since being drafted out of Santa Clara in 2015. So far this season, Huerta has netted three goals and has three assists. Her partnership with Press is one of the best in the league. They have assisted two goals of each other. Huerta has finally gotten the attention of U.S. Soccer. She has been invited to train with the U.S. Women’s National Team during the Tournament of Nations. Unfortunately, Huerta cannot get her first cap yet because she is still under FIFA association with Mexico, after playing with Mexico in the 2012 U-20 World Cup. U.S. Soccer is pursuing the change of Huerta’s association to the US with FIFA.
On the rise for the Pride
Last year the Pride sat at the bottom of the table during their inaugural season, this year things have been different. They are currently ranked in sixth, with 19 points posting a record of 5-5-4. With all the talent they have the turnaround should not come as a surprise. Since last year the Pride got two big name additions to their squad, U.S. Women’s National Team defender Ali Krieger and Brazilian superstar Marta. And now that Morgan is back and healthy she will lead the attack alongside Marta.
Coming up big for the Pride has been goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. Bledsoe was given the number one spot shortly after Ashlyn Harris suffered a right quadriceps injury back on May 21st, in the first half of the Pride’s match against the Seattle Reign. Harris is expected back sometime in August. Bledsoe got her first start on May 28th and has played all 8 games since. She has recorded 31 saves.