CHICAGO — The road to the NWSL Championship goes through SeatGeek Stadium when the Chicago Red Stars host Portland Thorns FC for an NWSL Semifinal matchup on Sunday, October 20. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 pm CT, with the match broadcast live on ESPN 2. Here are your keys to this semifinal match.
My Kind of Offense: Chicago and Portland feature two of the most lethal offenses in the NWSL. Portland ranks third in goals scored this season with 40 thanks in large part to the duo of Christine Sinclair and Midge Purce. Sinclair continues to be one of the best goalscorers in the league, finishing the season with nine. Purce has enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, finishing with eight goals. Above them in the rankings is Chicago, who finished the year with the second-most goals in the league with 41 and second in assists with 28. Sam Kerr had a record-breaking season with 18 goals in 21 games. Teammate Yuki Nagasato has also contributed greatly to the offense, scoring eight goals and adding a league-high eight assists this season. Vanessa DiBernardo, Katie Johnson and Casey Short have also shined offensively for Chicago this season combining for six goals and eight assists.
Casey Dagger: Casey Short’s 2019 season was historic. She became the only player in league history to be named to every edition of the NWSL Team of the Month throughout a whole season. She was part of a fantastic defensive unit for Chicago that held opposing offenses to two goals in the month of September. Short has also become one of the Red Stars’ best offensive threats. She has two goals this season, including a crucial header in the 95th minute to keep Chicago in the hunt for a home playoff match and added three assists as well.
Keepers: Two World Cup-winning goalkeepers will face off on Sunday when Chicago’s Alyssa Naeher meets Portland’s Adrianna Franch. Franch is the reigning NWSL Goalkeeper of the year and finished 2019 with five clean sheets, 42 saves and 1.43 goals-against average. Her USWNT teammate Naher has had a terrific run of form since returning to the NWSL after her heroics in this summer’s World Cup. Her five clean sheets since July 21 are the most from any goalkeeper during that time span and she finished the season ranked eighth in the league with 43 saves despite playing in significantly fewer games than a majority of goalkeepers in the league.