Although the days of FC Kansas City dominance over the National Women’s Soccer League are certainly over, the midwest rivalry between them and the Chicago Red Stars continues to ebb and flow. Last year, despite the Red Stars finishing three places above FCKC, the matches between the teams ended with two draws and one victory apiece.
This Sunday (August 20) will be the second meeting between the sides this year, the first coming all the way back in the second week of the season. That match went the way of the Red Stars, Julie Ertz scoring her team’s first goal of the season to pick up what was also their first win.
Red Stars in dire need of points
As has almost become customary for the Red Stars, they’re experiencing a demoralising midseason slump. One win in the last five - which most recently includes losses to fellow playoff-place chasers the Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign - has pushed Chicago from potential Shield winners right back down into an unwanted battle for postseason play.
It’s clear where the Red Stars are falling down - in each of their last two losses they’ve dominated the shooting stats, posting 12 both times, but have found themselves unable to find the back of the net enough. This problem was particularly evident against Seattle, when at least three clear cut chances were wasted and the game wasn't put to bed, leaving the door open for the Reign’s late comeback.
The Red Stars will look to Christen Press and three-year starter Sofia Huerta to clean up their finishing on Sunday night.
Kansas City on the up?
It’s undoubtedly been a tough season for the two-time champions FC Kansas City - from the first match they were dealt a cruel hand when World Champion with the USWNT forard Amy Rodriguez tore her ACL, leaving the side without their star forward.
The team may have spent much of this year out of the playoff picture, but a late 1-0 victory away at the Houston Dash and a very impressive come from behind win against the Thorns midweek has suddenly raised the spirits of the team. It may be too late to make the playoffs, but they can certainly have something to say about the top four. If Kansas City were to beat the Red Stars, they’ll have the same number of wins in the last 10 days as they did the rest of the whole season.
Looking at the table, it seems like their can only be one winner - but these teams’ confidence levels and form could not be more different right now. The midwest rivalry always provides a close game, and you can expect no less this time around.
The match will be played at Chicago’s Toyota Park at 6:00PM ET on Sunday August 20.