Chicago Red Stars at Utah Royals FC
Rio Tinto Stadium: Sandy, Utah
Saturday September 8, 2:30 p.m. CT
Broadcast: nwslsoccer.com and NWSL app
CHICAGO- The Chicago Red Stars finish the regular season at the Rio Tinto Stadium against the Utah Royals FC on Saturday.
The Red Stars clinched the final playoff spot for the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season on Tuesday with a 5-0 victory against Sky Blue FC at Toyota Park. Chicago has scored eight goals in their previous two matches, in which they were both victorious.
The Royals fell short of the playoffs in their inaugural year, currently in fifth place in the NWSL standings with 32 points. The matchup against the Red Stars will be Utah’s first game since August 22, a 1-0 victory on the road against the Washington Spirit. Amy Rodriguez scored a goal in the 12th minute and the team’s defensive effort shut out Washington, who had zero shots on goal on the day.
Katie Stengel is the Royals’ top scorer with four goals on the season. However, it is Rodriguez who has been on the best form recently. Her goal against the Spirit was her second goal in as many games, having scored a stoppage time equalizer against Sky Blue FC in the 2-2 draw on August 18.
Utah will also have added defensive reinforcement thanks to the recent return of Kelley O’Hara. The United States international has only played seven games this NWSL season due to an injury sustained in May. However, her 83% passing completion in her own half of play and international experience will add more composure to the Utah backline thanks to her pairing with fellow U.S. Women’s National Team defender Becky Sauerbrunn.
This will be the third matchup between Chicago and Utah, with the Red Stars victorious in the previous two occasions. Danielle Colaprico’s stunning volley was enough for the 1-0 victory back in the inaugural meeting between the clubs on April 14. Two months later on June 23 a pair of Red Stars scored their first goals of their season in a 2-0 victory. Katie Naughton’s first career goal came off a header from a Colaprico free kick in the 62nd minute. Eight minutes later, it was Vanessa DiBernardo’s turn to score. Her goal off a Sam Kerr pass sealed the victory for Chicago.
Saturday’s game marks the return of Brooke Elby to Utah after she was traded to the Red Stars in a trade on June 18th that sent Samantha Johnson and the rights to Christen Press to Utah in return.
Chicago will add more depth to their squad with the return of United States international players, who return from a pair of friendly victories against Chile. Julie Ertz, Morgan Brian and Alyssa Naeher will be available for Saturday’s regular season finale, available to stream on nwslsoccer.com.
2018 Series History
April 14 – Win @ Utah: 1-0 (Colaprico 27’)
June 23 – Win @ Home: 2-0 (Naughton 62’/ DiBernardo 70’)
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, defender Casey Short and midfielders Julie Ertz and Morgan Brian were called up to the national team for friendlies against Chile on August 31 and September 4. Ertz was the only Red Star player to start both friendlies. She was subbed off in the 74th minute of each game, being replaced by Hallie Mace in the first game and Utah’s Becky Sauerbrunn. Alyssa Naeher got the start in the August 31st game, earning her 16th career-shutout in her 33rd cap. Short played the full 90 minutes in the September 4th victory.
With the return of the international players, Joanna Boyles, Chandra Eigenberger, Zoey Goralski and Ryann Torrero have been dropped from the full team roster.