LOU: Racing Louisville took down the Kansas City Current in a 2-1 win
CHI: The Red Stars shutout the Houston Dash with a 0-1 win in Houston
Ready to Outrun Racing
The Chicago Red Stars enter their match against Racing Louisville FC on a two-game win streak. Those two wins, however, came during the regular season and the team has yet to win or score a goal in a UKG Challenge Cup game, putting them at the bottom of the central division standings. With World Cup rosters having been announced since the last time these two teams met, both sides will be without key players including Cheyna Matthews (JAM) and Alyssa Naeher (USA) for Chicago and Ary Borges (Brazil), Alex Chidiac (Australia), Savannah DeMelo (USA), Uchenna Kanu (Nigeria), Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa) and Wang Shuang (China) for Louisville. Despite missing these players, both clubs are not without firepower. For Louisville, the club still has their young star, Jaelin Howell, proven scorer, Paige Monaghan, and the veteran leadership and skill of Abby Erceg, Nadia Nadim and Carson Pickett. The more intact Chicago side enters the match with nine different goal scorers including five players with two or more goals, a backline and goalkeeper that have kept the ball out of the net in two-straight matches and a healthy Penelope Hocking who scored in 23 seconds against Houston after subbing into the game in the second half.
Central Division Rivals
Racing Louisville FC shut out the Red Stars in their previous two meetings this year, once in the regular season and once in UKG Challenge Cup play. This puts the two clubs on direct opposite sides of the central division with undefeated Louisville at the top and Chicago at the bottom. All hope is not lost for the Red Stars, however. The team leads Louisville in assists (11 to 7), is tied with Racing on goals (19) with less shots and less shots on goal (108 to 159 and 50 to 78) and still have their top goal scorer in Ella Stevens (4 goals). Louisville do have a slight edge on Chicago with a 3-3-2 record in all competitions against the Red Stars since Racing joined the league in 2021. Separated by only one win in the all-time record, the two sides are poised for another tight matchup come Friday.
Picking Up Where She Left Off
Prior to taking the field in the second half of Chicago’s match against Houston, Penelope Hocking missed the previous six matches due to injury. The rookie wasted no time after being subbed in for Sarah Griffith and scored after just 23 seconds, making her goal the second fastest by a substitute in league history. Before her injury, Hocking played and started in every regular-season match this year and amassed a 74.5 percent passing accuracy, among the top 10 of Red Stars players. Hocking currently ranks second on the Red Stars in goals (3), shots (17) and shots on goal (9). With the rest of the season ahead of her, all eyes will be set on the rookie to see what else she can do this year.