2019 NWSL Regular Season – Week 2
Chicago Red Stars vs Portland Thorns
SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview, Illinois
April 20 – 2:30 PM CT
The Chicago Red Stars will play at SeatGeek Stadium for the first time in 2019 against NWSL Finalists Portland Thorns. It is the same home opener for Chicago as last season, who fell to the Thorns 3-2 on that occasion before taking a point on the other two occasions both teams met.
Streaming: NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Red Stars announced NBC Sports Chicago as their broadcast partner for the 2019 season. NBC Sports Chicago will broadcast every remaining Red Stars home and away match this year. This game will be broadcasted on NBCSH+, with Lori Lindsey and Josh Tolle as the on-air talents.
Additionally, authenticated regional subscribers of NBC Sports Chicago can view the live stream of the game at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive.
Portland has lost one competitive match in their last eight games dating back to August of last season. In week one of the 2019 campaign, the Thorns dominated Orlando to start the year with three points.
Caitlin Foord scored on the brink of halftime and Tobin Heath added another for Portland four minutes into the second half for the 2-0 win. The Thorns had eight shots on goal compared to Orlando’s eight. Portland goalkeeper Adriana Franch needed to only make one save for the clean sheet. Additionally, Heath looks in full form after missing a majority of the 2018 season due to injury. Heath was named NWSL Player of the Week for her dominant play against Orlando.
What to Watch For
Comeback SZN Ends?
The Red Stars and Thorns drew in their final two meetings of the 2018 season. On both occasions, Chicago would enter halftime with a lead, only for Portland to rally and take a point at the end. Chicago’s defense got stronger this season with the acquisition of top overall draft pick and rookie Tierna Davidson. The Red Stars have been able to get the upper hand on Portland multiple times, now it’s a matter of putting them away for good and getting the three points to their name.
The International Connection
Both teams have a pair of offensives teammates that can decide any given game. Portland’s duo of U.S. Women’s National Team star Tobin Heath and 2018 NWSL MVP Lindsey Horan line up against 2011 World Cup Champion Yuki Nagasato and 2018 Golden Boot winner Sam Kerr. Nagasato has eight assists dating back to last year, all of which contributed to a Kerr goal. Against North Carolina last weekend, the international connection struck again for the opener. Both also combined for three goals and an assist last season against Portland. Those players linking up can make the difference on Saturday, proving to be one of the league’s most dynamic duos early on this season.
With U.S. WNT defender Casey Short on the injury report for the opening game for Chicago, it was up to outside backs Sarah Gorden and Arin Wright to stop a daunting North Carolina attack on the wings. Another dangerous winger will face Chicago in Heath. Her technique on the ball is arguably the best in the world, but with Gorden and Gilliland, the usual speed advantage may be in favor of the Red Stars defenders. In addition, Short’s been moved from out to questionable on the injury report, so the speedy outside back could be in the lineup or an addition late in the game for Chicago. Centrally, this marks another game for the trio of Tierna Davidson, Katie Naughton, and Julie Ertz to continue improving their chemistry. It has almost been trial by fire for the defense, going up against both finalists from 2018 back-to-back weeks. But with Ertz moving back into a defensive midfield role as the leader of the team, the ability from Naughton and Davidson combined with the speed and experience of Gorden and Wright the Red Stars have a defensive line up ready for another tough test.