Match Preview: Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC
2020 NWSL Challenge Cup presented by P&G and Secret – Semifinal Round
Chicago Red Stars vs Sky Blue FC
Rio Tinto Stadium. Sandy, UT
July 22 at 9:00 PM CT
CHICAGO – The Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue FC are set to clash in the semifinal round of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup presented by P&G and Secret on Wednesday, July 22nd at 9:00 p.m. CT.
Previous Result: Alyssa Naeher made 6 saves in regulation while Julie Ertz, Vanessa DiBernardo, Kealia Watt, and Rachel Hill all converted their penalty kicks as the Red Stars defeated the OL Reign 0(4) – 0(3) in a penalty shootout in the NWSL Challenge Cup quarterfinal.
Opponent: Sky Blue FC defeated the Washington Spirit 0(4) – 0(3) in penalties in their NWSL Challenge Cup quarterfinal match.
Key Acquisitions: Sky Blue FC comes into this season under the leadership of Freya Coombe, who was officially named Head Coach of the team after taking the helm in an interim role last September. During the offseason Sky Blue FC made several trades, acquiring Midge Purce from Portland Thorns FC, McCall Zerboni from the North Carolina Courage, and Ifeoma Onumonu from OL Reign. Sky Blue FC would also make four selections in the 2020 NWSL Draft, selecting Evelyne Viens 5th overall, Kaleigh Riehl 11th overall, Amanda McGlynn 20th overall, and Chantelle Swaby 29th overall.
A Semifinal Story: The Chicago Red Stars’ appearance in this years’ semifinal round continues a trend of consistency the team has displayed for almost a decade. With six straight appearances in an NWSL semifinal round, the Red Stars are the only team in NWSL history to accomplish such a feat and are the only major Chicago sports team to have made an appearance in their respective semifinal round in each of the last six years. This will be the first time the Red Stars will take on Sky Blue FC in a semifinal round.
Cool, Calm, Collected: Both teams advanced to the semifinal round in similar fashion, having won via a penalty shootout after holding their respective opponents scoreless in regulation. Sky Blue FC won their contest over the Washington Spirit 4-3 in penalties as Sarah Woldmoe, Nahomi Kawasumi, McCall Zerboni, and Elizabeth Eddy all converted their penalties and goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan made seven saves in regulation and one in the penalty shootout. The Red Stars saw a similar goalkeeping performance in their game against the OL Reign, with Alyssa Naeher making six saves in regulation. In the penalty shootout, the Red Stars were perfect with goals from Julie Ertz, Vanessa DiBernardo, Kealia Watt, and Rachel Hill as Chicago advanced to Wednesday’s semifinal round 4-3 in penalties.
Just a number: Out of the four quarterfinal matchups in the NWSL Challenge cup, three saw the lower seed advance to the semifinals. The seventh-seeded Sky Blue FC sent second-seed Washington Spirit home in the early quarterfinal matchup on Saturday. The sixth-seeded Chicago Red Stars faced third-seed OL Reign in the late game, advancing on penalty kicks, making Wednesday’s semifinals a matchup between the sixth and the seventh seed of the tournament, with eight-seeded Portland Thorns FC on the other side of the bracket as well.
A Keeper: Wednesday’s matchup features two goalkeepers in contention for the NWSL Challenge Cup Golden Glove award. Sky Blue FC’s Kailen Sheridan currently leads the tournament with 20 saves and three shutouts through five games played. Right behind her is Chicago’s Alyssa Naeher. The U.S. WNT goalkeeper has made 18 saves in the tournament in four games and has earned two clean sheets.