Challenge Cup Match Preview: CHI v. POR
2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, presented by Secret Deodorant - Match 2
Chicago Red Stars vs Portland Thorns
SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview, IL
April 15 at 6:30 PM CT
CHICAGO - The Chicago Red Stars make their 2021 competitive debut at SeatGeek Stadium, looking to build off earning a point in their previous 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup matchup, as they host the West Division-leading Portland Thorns on Friday, April 9th at 6:30 p.m. CT.
Where to Watch
Paramount+, Twitch (International)
CHI: The Red Stars outshot the Houston Dash 11-3 in their Challenge Cup opener on the road last Friday, gaining a hard-fought point as the game would end in a scoreless draw. Cassie Miller earned a clean sheet in her first NWSL start, and Tatumn Milazzo and Sarah Woldmoe would make their Red Stars debuts as second-half substitutes.
POR: Portland would open their 2021 Challenge Cup campaign at home in the late-night game following the Chicago/Houston matchup, scoring twice and having to hold off a tough and resilient Kansas City team to walk away with a 2-1 victory. Raquel Rodríguez and Tyler Lussi were the two goalscorers for Portland which saw three members of the Thorns team (Morgan Weaver, head coach Mark Parsons, Simone Charley) shown red cards for unsportsmanlike conduct in the final five minutes of the game.
Grinding it Out: Thursday night’s matchup features two teams that play some of the more tightly contested games with the closest results in recent memory. Since 2018, six out of the last eight meetings between the Red Stars and the Thorns have concluded as a draw or a narrow one-goal victory. Chicago and Portland faced off as recently as last year’s inaugural Challenge Cup in a game which saw goalkeepers Emily Boyd and Cassie Miller (her NWSL debut) earn a combined clean sheet en route to a scoreless draw, and Chicago’s first point in the preliminary stages of the tournament. The last time these two teams met in a game that didn’t end in a draw was the 2019 NWSL semifinal game, where the Red Stars added to the trend of narrow victories between the two with a 1-0 victory to see Chicago advance to their first-ever NWSL Championship game.
Mother(s) Know Best: The left side of the Red Stars’ defense last week against Houston, led by Arin Wright and Sarah Gorden, helped provide stability and protection to Chicago’s defense on their way to earning a point last week in a scoreless draw. Gorden played all 90’ minutes of the contest, registering 61 touches, a block, and successfully winning duels at a 66.7% clip while tying her center-back partner Kayla Sharples for the team lead in clearances for the match. Wright, in just her second competitive match and first start since childbirth, would play 87’ minutes while tallying a passing percentage of 65.8% and getting 57 touches and two interceptions.
Midfield Mania: Fans who tune in for Thursday night’s contest will be treated to a matchup between two sets of midfields who are among the best in the league at dictating play. The Thorns come to Chicago sporting a midfield that is led by former US Women’s National Teamer and World Cup winner Meghan Klingenberg along with Costa Rican international Raquel “Rocky” Rodríguez. The Red Stars will look to counter with a midfield depth chart that sees a World Cup winner of their own in Morgan Gautrat as well as longtime Red Stars Danielle Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo, Nikki Stanton, and Alyssa Mautz, plus newer additions, Sarah Woldmoe (who is coming off her Red Stars debut at Houston), and second-year player Ella Stevens.