KCC: The Current fell to the Washington Spirit 2-1
CHI: The Red Stars shut out Racing Louisville FC 1-0
Do or Die
The last two games of the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) regular season are must-wins for Chicago if the team wants to make a postseason run for the eighth-consecutive year. The Red Stars currently sit 11th in league standings, but the team’s 24 points mean they’re only four points below the playoff line. While Chicago making it into the postseason is still possible, with only three total points available per match, earning a playoff spot requires wins against the Current and against the Red Stars’ final opponent, OL Reign. With the Orlando Pride’s win on Monday night, Kansas City is now mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Current will now look to disrupt everyone else’s playoff chances, starting with Chicago on Saturday night. A win for the Chicago side not only would mean that they stay alive in the playoff chase, but would also mean that the Red Stars would take the regular-season series against the Current after the 4-2 win for Chicago back in April.
Statistics can only predict so much in the NWSL, meaning home field advantage or season averages aren’t always indicative of a match’s outcome. The Current understand this particularly well, as they beat the team currently topping the NWSL standings, San Diego Wave FC, on the road September 16. While Chicago and Kansas City have battled each other to get out of last place in league standings for the better part of 2023, the Red Stars have the statistical upper hand in multiple areas. Though the Current will be on home ground at Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City is coming off a loss to the Washington Spirit September 30 and the Red Stars have momentum behind them as they look to extend their number of weeks without a loss to five. Looking at the numbers, Chicago has scored more goals (25) and has more assists (15) than the Current (22 goals, 13 assists). The Red Stars also have a better conversion rate (17.86 percent) than Kansas City (12.57 percent), a 76.04 percent passing accuracy compared to the Current’s 75.16 percent and have won more duels (962) and tackles (230) than Kansas City (856 and 205, respectively). Can Chicago’s statistical advantages keep their playoff dreams alive?
While some Chicago Red Stars have more playing time or appearances than others, every player has made an important contribution on and off the field this season. This is reflected in Chicago’s stats, with every player who has played for over 10 minutes in the 2023 regular season having a passing accuracy of 63.3 percent or higher. 11 players have scored a regular-season goal so far in 2023, enough to make up an entire Starting XI. Ten players have recorded assists in the regular season, with six of those players recording at least one goal and one assist. Additionally, 20 Red Stars have created one or more chances while on the attack in the regular season. Whatever the outcome at the end of the season, no one can say Chicago lacks a strong foundation to build off in 2024.