WHERE TO WATCH
The U, Paramount+, TSN+, NWSL.com (international)
ORL: The Chicago Red Stars ended NWSL UKG Challenge Cup play with a decisive 3-0 shutout over Houston
CHI: Orlando drew 1-1 with New Jersey/New York
A Dash-ing Challenge Cup Finale
No matter the competition, NWSL fans know every game is unpredictable. The 2023 NWSL UKG Challenge Cup group stage was no exception, especially for Chicago and Orlando. While the Red Stars were mathematically eliminated from advancing to the knockout stages of the tournament prior to their final Challenge Cup matchup against the Houston Dash, the team had no intentions of going quietly. The August 5 showdown became a record-setting event, ending with a 3-0 victory for Chicago and the Red Stars’ first 2023 Challenge Cup win. Defender, Casey Krueger, put on an outstanding performance at both ends of the field, assisting every goal Chicago scored to record the first hat-trick of assists in Chicago Red Stars history, across all competitions. The magnificent game earned Krueger the honor of NWSL Player of the Week for the first time in her illustrious career. Additionally, rookie, Penelope Hocking, recorded her second professional brace with two goals only six minutes apart (37’ and 43’), making Hocking the Red Star with the most goals (5) across all competitions in 2023. Three of Hocking’s five goals have been scored against the Dash. Will Chicago continue their record-breaking season on Sunday against Orlando?
Regular Season Returns
Sunday, August 20, marks the end of the 2023 FIFA World Cup and the return of NWSL regular-season play. While Chicago currently sits 11th in the NWSL standings with 16 points, the Red Stars can’t be counted out just yet. Only five points separate them from a playoff berth, where sixth-place San Diego currently resides with 21 points. Additionally, the Red Stars have walked away with at least one point against three of their remaining regular-season opponents. With only one loss in their five most recent matches (WDLWW), Chicago arrives in Orlando with quite a bit of momentum and hungry to record their second victory over the Pride this season.
You Want It? Yuki’s Got It
Midfielder Yuki Nagasato has been a quiet but extremely dangerous threat on the pitch for five seasons now, and her sixth season seems to be no different. Nagasato currently holds the highest regular-season passing accuracy (83.2 percent) of any Red Star, and only attackers Penelope Hocking (3) and Ella Stevens (4) have more regular-season goals than Nagasato (2), while Hocking and Nagasato are the only two Red Stars to score in 2023 UKG Challenge Cup play. In the regular season, Nagasato hasn’t recorded a passing accuracy below 69.2 percent, and her Challenge Cup passing percentages never fell below 77.1. Additionally, Nagasato has more assists (23) across all competitions than all current Red Stars. Nagasato’s 22 career goals across all competitions is only bested by Mallory Swanson’s 32 goals, and Nagasato has accumulated the third-highest number of appearances (127), starts (113) and minutes (10,065) of all active Red Stars.