The Red Stars need one point to clinch a playoff spot for the second straight year.
SERIES HISTORY: The Red Stars hold a 5-5-3 record with their Midwestern rival, FC Kansas City. After their last match up, the teams hold a 3-3 scoreline between three matches played in 2016. The Chicago attack against Kansas City has been led by Christen Press and Sofia Huerta, netting 6 goals total for the Red Stars, including a goal each in the previous match.
SCOUTING FC KANSAS CITY: FC Kansas City, the reigning, two-time National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Champions, has fallen out of playoff contention with 22 points and two matches remaining after Week 18 play. Despite having allowed the second most goals (19), Nicole Barnhart tops the league in saves (79) and holds a four-way tie for most clean sheets (5). The backline is led by team captain Becky Sauerbrunn and Yael Averbuch, who has been able to net three goals for FCKC. Offensively, Shea Groom dominates, leading the team with 8 goals, while the technical speed and assisting ability of midfielder Heather O’Reilly, who recently retired from the U.S. Women’s National Team after earning 230 caps, controls the midfield.
LAST MATCH RECAP: Chicago fell early in the seventh minute after Heather O’Reilly assisted Shea Groom for the first goal of the match to put Kansas City up 1-1. The Red Stars countered nearly five minutes later as Taylor Comeau relayed a ball to Christen Press, whose fancy footwork won her an angled shot in the upper 90, equalizing the match, 1-1. In the 62nd, FCKC regained the lead after Frances Silva tallied off a Tiffany McCarty pass. Moments later, Kansas City furthered the lead when Caroline Kastor crossed the ball to Shea Groom, who dove to head the ball in. Chicago remained on the attack when in the 87th minute, Arin Gilliland was able to thread the ball between defenders for Sofia Huerta to earn the last goal of the match, ending the game 2-3.
RED STARS MILESTONES: Defender Arin Gilliland has cemented her spot in the tough Chicago backline as she is the only Red Stars player to have played all 1,620 minutes of the 2016 NWSL season. This past Wednesday against Kansas City, Gilliland surpassed her personal record of 1,533 minutes in 19 matches (17 starts) during her rookie season with the Red Stars last year.
3 STRAIGHT: Christen Press and Sofia Huerta continue to provide offensive power to the Chicago Red Stars, each netting a goal for the third straight game. Each of their three goals came at crucial moments in the match. Press notched the game winner with Huerta sealing the deal in the 3-1 victory against Sky Blue. Both Press and Huerta equalized against Seattle, earning a dramatic draw against the Reign. This past week, Press earned another equalizer against FCKC, while Huerta was able to add Chicago’s second goal in their 2-3 loss.
PLAYOFF RACE: With just two matches remaining in regular play in the 2016 NWSL season, it’s down to the wire when it comes to the final two spots in the four-team playoffs.The Red Stars are neck and neck with the Western New York Flash and Seattle Reign for one of the two final spots. As the standings hold with the Washington Spirit and Portland Thorns securing playoff positions, on Wednesday, Chicago only needs to earn one point in the next two games to be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
NEXT UP: The Chicago Red Stars will face Crystal Dunn and the Washington Spirit in their last match of regular season play on Sunday, September 24, in the comfort of their home field at Toyota Park. Tickets to the match can be purchased here.
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