After a devastating loss in Tacoma, the Chicago Red Stars return home to face off against Racing Louisville for the first time. After making a major trade to protect the rest of their squad in the expansion draft, the Red Stars haven’t had much of anything to do with Louisville until now. Let’s see who will be involved.
Danielle Colaprico has been out recently with a hip injury and Arin Wright similarly has been out with a thigh injury, so neither will likely be available for the Chicago Red Stars. Also, after her red card in the last game, Bianca St Georges is suspended going into this match. Racing Louisville has the opposite situation as they are slowly getting players back from injury like Cece Kizer, Ebony Salmon, and Addisyn Merrick who should be returning soon, as well as new reinforcements like Nadia Nadim set to join the team soon. However, Nadim still has to get her Visa so she’s not likely to feature.
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Here are three things to think about going into this game:
Rotation, Rotation, Rotation
Both of these teams had a mid-week game. While the Chicago Red Stars took their 2-0 loss to OL Reign on Tuesday, Racing Louisville had their own 2-0 loss against the North Carolina Courage on Wednesday. This means that the Red Stars might be playing slightly more rested, although both teams seemed to be focused on trying to rest some of their more important players during the mid-week game.
Figuring out what each team is planning to do with rotation is hard, but it looks like the Red Stars will try to line up with mostly their first-choice and Louisville will have more of a hybrid lineup with some regular starters likely getting a rest after their workload in the previous game. This should give Chicago a slight advantage.
Probably the most interesting situation that’s set to develop for the Chicago Red Stars in this game is the return of two former players: Savannah McCaskill and Yuki Nagasato. Both were seen as integral to the team going into last season’s Challenge Cup tournament, but one disappointed and the other was plagued by an injury. Then, in the offseason, they were traded to Racing Louisville for protection in the expansion draft. This was massive news as McCaskill finally seemed to be developing into the new focal point of the offense and Nagasato had already established herself as a fan-favorite and the life of the locker room.
With the way things go for Chicago soccer teams, it’s very possible that both Nagasato and McCaskill will be set to cause problems for the Red Stars. They were on limited minutes in Louisville’s previous match against North Carolina and should be ready to do something in this game. While Louisville themselves have struggled with scoring, McCaskill has been praised for her role as a creator from the 10 spot.
Just like with my previous Trinity Rodman prediction, I expect one or both of these former Red Stars will have something to say on Saturday.
How Do You Stop This Thing?
The big question for the Chicago Red Stars is around how to stop this skid. Both the game against the Washington Spirit and the game against the OL Reign showed that the team has issues on both sides of the pitch. A stagnant attack that is dominated by a player who seems to have lost trust in her teammates and a defense that seems to be unable to handle sort of odd-number rush situation.
A game against Racing Louisville should come as welcome news for the Red Stars as they’ve had their own issues with scoring, only picking up three total goals this season. And while they’ve held shutouts in half of their matches this season, they’ve given up 2+ goals in each of the games that weren’t a shutout. In fact, their 5-0 loss to NC Courage and 3-0 loss to Portland were both on the road.
If there was ever a chance for the Chicago Red Stars to prove themselves again, this is it.
Chicago Red Stars (4-3-3): Alyssa Naeher; Casey Krueger, Zoey Goralski, Sarah Gorden, Tatumn Milazzo; Morgan Gautrat, Vanessa DiBernardo, Nikki Stanton; Kealia Watt, Sarah Luebbert, Mallory Pugh
Racing Louisville (4-2-3-1): Michelle Betos; Emily Fox, Gemma Bonner, Brooke Hendrix, Nealy Martin; Freja Olofsson, Lauren Milliet; Yuki Nagasato, Savannah McCaskill, Emina Ekic; Cece Kizer
How To Watch
Saturday, June 26th, 1:00 PM CDT; At SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, IL, online on Paramount+