2019 NWSL Regular Season – Week 7
Chicago Red Stars vs Washington Spirit
SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview, Illinois
May 26 – 5:00 PM CT
CHICAGO — The Chicago Red Stars return to SeatGeek Stadium to face the Washington Spirit on Sunday, May 26. Chicago is currently enjoying its spot at the top of the NWSL with 11 points in six games and will look to continue its streak at home against a top-four club.
Where to Watch
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Stream: NBC Sports App, Yahoo Sports
Additionally, authenticated regional subscribers of NBC Sports Chicago can view the live stream of the game at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive.
Washington is coming off two consecutive three-goal games resulting in wins that launched the Spirit into playoff position. Washington most recently handed Portland its first loss of the season in a 3-1 win, with rookie Jordan DiBiasi scoring a goal in two consecutive games. Goalkeeper Bledsoe has also seen much success in net lately, recording a season-high 9 saves against Reign FC in Week 3.
What to Watch For & Storylines
Top 4 Matchup: Chicago currently stands at the top of the table with 11 points in six games, while Washington has completed turned around from 2018, earning 10 points in six games to seat them in fourth place. Under new head coach Richie Burke, Washington has already beaten their win total in 2018 (2) and are one point away from their total points last season. Washington has a shot conversion rate of 13.1% this season, third best in the league. Last year, they had a league-worst conversion rate of 4.1%.
100 for DiBernardo: Last week against the Houston Dash Vanessa DiBernardo earned her 100th appearance for the Red Stars in NWSL play. The co-captain is a mainstay in the midfield and currently is the club’s all-time leader in assists with 20.
Stepping Up on Offense: Forward Sam Kerr might be at training camp with the Matildas ahead of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but the Red Stars still have a plethora of attacking options. Vanessa DiBernardo tallied her first assist of the season in Houston, while Michele Vasconcelos tallied another assist on a Kerr goal to continue her recent success on the field.
Yuki Nagasato remains an offensive powerhouse as she leads the league in assists while also ranking third in the league with three goals. Since the start of 2018, the Red Stars average nearly a goal more per game when Nagasato is in the starting lineup. Entering Sunday’s game, Chicago leads the league in goals scored with 13.
You Shall Not Pass: Two of the most in-form goalkeepers will take the field on Sunday. Washington’s Audrey Bledsoe leads the league in saves this season with 19. Through five games she has earned a goal against average of .08 from 23 shots faced.
Despite playing in fewer games, Emily Boyd’s productivity has been equally impressive for Chicago. Boyd has made 9 saves in three games and enters the game on Sunday averaging 1 goal against per game. Her point-blank saves against North Carolina and Houston in consecutive weeks have ensured Chicago kept the lead against top teams in the league.
How May I Assist You? In addition to leading the league in goals, Chicago is also the best team distributing the ball with a league-high 8 assists. It certainly helps to have Yuki Nagasato’s 3 assists, but right behind her is Michele Vasconcelos. The second-year midfielder has had a breakout start to the 2019 season, with two goals and two assists. Captain Vanessa DiBernardo had an assist of her own last week, with a wonderful give-and-go play to Sam Kerr.
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