The last regular season match for Chicago of 2018 takes place today in Salt Lake City, Utah, against the newest NWSL franchise, Utah Royals FC.
The two teams have met twice in 2018, with Chicago getting points out of both games. Here are the keys to the match:
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, defender Casey Short and midfielders Julie Ertz and Morgan Brian were called up to the U.S. Women’s National 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 received the start in the September 4th victory.
Summer Green returns to the Red Stars after helping the U.S. U-23 National Team win the Nordic Cup. Green, in her second season with Chicago, subbed in at the start of the second half of the final against Norway to help secure the 1-0 win.
With the return of the international players, Joanna Boyles, Chandra Eigenberger, Zoey Goralski and Ryann Torrero have been released from the full team roster
A midseason three-way trade saw Chicago send the rights to Christen Press and defender Samantha Johnson to Utah in exchange for draft picks and defender Brooke Elby.
Elby started her first match in Chicago, her second start for the club, on Tuesday against Sky Blue FC and played lights out. The match will be the first time the traded players will go up against their old club.
For Press, the all-time leading goal scorer for the Red Stars (36), it will be the first time she has faced Chicago since being traded in the “blockbuster” trade at the 2018 NWSL College Draft, which sent the U.S. Women’s National Team forward to Houston. The forward decided to head overseas instead of playing for the Dash and the midseason trade brought her back to the NWSL. Since returning to the NWSL, Press has netted two goals and two assists in ten matches.
Fresh Squad in Utah
While Chicago is coming off a weekday game on Tuesday, the Royals have not played a match since August 22. With their international players back, including Press and Amy Rodriguez, the Red Stars must turn around quickly to stop the Royals attack.
However, Chicago has scored eight goals in their last two matches and are spreading the ball around nicely. The Red Stars will look to push themselves one more time in the regular season to take another win at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2018.