On Sunday, at 3:30 ET the Chicago Red Stars and the North Carolina Courage will collide to see who will be crowned the 2019 Champions of the National Women’s Soccer League. The final will be held at Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, N.C. Overall these teams are well matched and it is going to be a highly competitive game with both teams leaving their all out on the field.
How they got here
The Red Stars will compete in the Championship game for the first time, after four consecutive semifinal losses. They were able to pick up a 1-0 win against the Portland Thorns at SeatGeek Stadium thanks to a goal from Sam Kerr.
For a third consecutive year the North Carolina Courage find themselves in the NWSL Championship match. Last Sunday, the team defeated Reign FC 4-1 in overtime. With both teams deadlocked at 1-1 at the end of regulation the Courage found their goal scoring ways putting three in the back of the net to punch their ticket to the final.
Chicago Red Stars
The team will be looking to get some redemption against the Courage. In the previous two seasons, the Courage have defeated the Red Stars in the semifinals ending the Red Stars playoff runs prematurely.
The Red Stars will have one of the best goalscorers in the world starting up top for them on Sunday, Sam Kerr. Kerr was just named the league MVP for her performance over the season. She broke her own single season goal record with 18 goals this year. Kerr has had some help up front in Yuki Nagasato. Nagasato has been magnificent for Chicago all season, tallying eight assists (league high), eight goals, and playing 2,111 minutes for the team. These two will need to be in sync on Sunday to help lead the Red Stars to their first NWSL Championship.
Defense is key when playing a team like North Carolina. Chicago’s backline took a big blow when starter Tierna Davidson was ruled out of the game for Sunday with an ankle injury. The Red Star’s have a few good options on how to fill her position but whoever steps in to Davidson’s role will be huge in stopping the Courage attack.
North Carolina will look to get over the hurdle they haven’t quite cleared all season and that is the Chicago Red Stars. In the team’s three meetings this season the Courage are 0-2-1, making Chicago the only team the Courage have not beaten all season. The Courage do have the extra benefit of playing at home in front of their own crowd. When playing at home, North Carolina has tallied a record of 9-0-4 in league play this season. If the Courage are able to pick up the win, they will be the first team to win the Championship at their own stadium.
For North Carolina scoring will be key and the team has ample options in the attack. Lynn Williams (12 goals), Debinha (8 goals), and Kristen Hamilton (9 goals) have scored 29 goals between the three of them, that’s more than five entire teams in the league. That statistic in itself is ridiculous and then you add Jessica McDonald on to that who has five goals of her own.
Sunday will mark the end of an era as the legendary Heather O’Reilly will be playing in her last professional game. O’Reilly will finish her professional career on the same field that she won two national championships in college and scored her first goal and assist for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Recently, O’Reilly has stepped into a starting position on the Courage’s backline due to the injury of Merritt Mathias and on Sunday, O’Reilly will have the chance to help her team lift a second consecutive NWSL title and go out on top.
How to watch
The match is set to kickoff at 3:30 p.m. ET at Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, N.C. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.