2019 NWSL Regular Season – Week 25

Chicago Red Stars vs Utah Royals

SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview, IL

September 28 at 7pm CT

CHICAGO — Chicago’s regular season comes to a close with a matchup against the Utah Royals on Saturday, September 28. Following a win last weekend, the Red Stars have already secured their fifth consecutive playoff appearance and currently sit second in the NWSL standings with 41 points as they welcome a Utah squad fighting for playoff survival. 

 

Where to Watch

TV: NBC Sports Chicago 

Stream: Yahoo Sports 

Additionally, authenticated regional subscribers of NBC Sports Chicago can watch the live stream of the game at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive.

 

Opponent Form

Utah entered the final stretch of the season with a postseason berth in sight, but three consecutive defeats have the team on the outside looking in entering the final two matchdays. The Royals suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to the Houston Dash two weeks ago. The road to the postseason only got tougher from there. Utah’s next opponent were NWSL Shield winners North Carolina Courage. It was another disappointing result for Utah, as they fell 3-0, allowing Chicago and Portland to clinch playoff berths in the process. With the final spot in the NWSL Semifinals up for grabs, Utah traveled to Tacoma for a pivotal matchup against Reign FC. The game was tied at one until the final minutes when Jodie Taylor gave Reign FC the winning goal and broke Utah’s hearts in a 2-1 loss. With two games to go, the Royals still have an outside shot of a playoff appearance, though their destiny is out of their hands. 

 

Storylines

Bop to the Top: Sam Kerr is once again the NWSL’s premier goalscorer. With two goals last Saturday, the Chicago striker surpassed the league’s previous record for goals scored in one season, a record she set herself back in 2017. Kerr has an impressive 18 goals scored in 20 games played. Against the Royals, Kerr has struck in two of the last three games both teams faced each other. The last time Chicago and Utah played back in August, it took her a mere five minutes to get on the scoresheet and grab the game-winning goal in Chicago’s 2-0 victory. Kerr has 90 minutes left to add to her goal total as she looks to lock-up an unprecedented third-consecutive NWSL Golden Boot. 

Save It: Utah’s Nicole Barnhart and Chicago’s Alyssa Naeher sit at the top of the NWSL record books. They are the only two goalkeepers in league history to play over 10,000 minutes while ranking in the top two for all-time games played and clean sheets. Naeher has had some outstanding performances for Chicago after she returned from a triumphant World Cup. Since July 21, Naeher has shutout the opposition in six games, the most of any goalkeeper in the league during that time span. Against Washington last Saturday, Naeher made six saves for the second-consecutive game and was awarded NWSL Save of the Week for her outstanding penalty kick save that mimicked her heroic save in the World Cup Semifinals. 

 

Now or Never: The stakes could not be higher for Utah entering Saturday’s game. After a tough loss to Reign FC on Wednesday, the Royals are three points behind the final playoff spot with two games to go. Utah can’t afford to drop any points in the standings as that would spell doom for the team’s postseason chances. However, Chicago has plenty to play for this weekend as well. The Red Stars currently sit second in the NWSL Standings with 41 points played. Victory on Sunday could put them in pole position for the team’s first home playoff game since 2015 and give them a valuable semifinal game at SeatGeek Stadium. 

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