Chicago Red Stars Vs Utah Royals: Challenge Cup Preview

North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

It’s the Chicago Red Stars’ final preliminary game in the NWSL Challenge Cup. After an arduous first three, they hope to get a win against the Utah Royals.

Going into the final game of the NWSL Challenge Cup preliminary round, the Chicago Red Stars have not performed up to pre-tournament expectations. Having made the NWSL Championship game last year, there was great hope that the Red Stars could again challenge for the Challenge Cup title. Thus far, those hopes seem rather foolish. Their final opponents, the Utah Royals. on the other hand, have performed better than expected.

With the way things stand for most of the league, the seeding for the knockouts is still wide-open. Every team is within three points of each other, except for the North Carolina Courage who have already locked up first place. As such, this match could play a vital role in swinging the knockout paths for both Chicago and Utah.

More from MLS Multiplex

In terms of injuries, the Chicago Red Stars are yet to feature Tierna Davidson. It seems unlikely that she would start without being a substitute beforehand. For the Utah Royals, Kelley O’Hara was removed from the injury report but has not made an appearance in the tournament. Now only Desiree Scott remains on the Utah injury list.

One of the biggest surprises of the tournament, the Utah Royals have been excellent in attacking areas. Their comeback win against the Houston Dash was one of most exciting moments in the NWSL Challenge Cup. Despite Christen Press opting out of the Cup, their attack has somehow improved with the hard work of Amy Rodriguez leading the show.

One of the biggest questions throughout tournament is whether or not a coach will play their first-choice lineup. For the Utah Royals, however, no one should worry too much. They are the one team who might have the most reason to put out their best lineup. Not only are they the hosts, but they are clearly outperforming a lot of the league and should want to capitalize on it. They have made a point in starting a fairly normal lineup for every game, so expect nothing less than that.

The Chicago Red Stars came into the tournament with what appeared to be the easiest schedule possible. Then the Orlando Pride pulled out and everything changed. Now, having gotten out of the first three games against three of the top teams in the league, the Red Stars now face an original opponent. Unfortunately, that team looks much more dangerous than they did a month ago. Those easy games are a long time ago now.

While the team is yet to win and has only scored one goal, Rory Dames will not be too concerned about his team’s placement in the knockout rounds. That they are secured a place is all that matters, and once Dames is committed to his best team, the Red Stars should rediscover their best form. On this occasion, however, the performance the ‘B-Team’ against the Portland Thorns was enough to give Dames enough confidence to let them have another go on the pitch.

Projected XI:

Chicago Red Stars (4-3-3): Emily Boyd; Julia Bingham, Kayla Sharples, Hannah Davison, Zoey Goralski; Cassie Rohan, Savannah McCaskill, Ella Stevens; Katie Johnson, Makenzy Doniak, Michelle Vasconcelos

Utah Royals (3-4-3): Nicole Barnhart; Rachel Corsie, Elizabeth Ball, Kate Del Fava; Katie Bowen, Vera Boquette, Lo’eau LaBonta, Aminata Diallo; Diane Matheson, Amy Rodriguez, Tziarra King

Next. Seattle Sounders Vs San Jose Earthquakes: 3 things we learned. dark

How To Watch:

Sunday, July 12th, 9:00 PM CDT; At Zions Bank Stadium in Sandy, UT, online with CBS All-Access and Twitch (foreign markets only)