Match Preview: Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars
2020 NWSL Challenge Cup (presented by P&G and Secret) Championship Game Houston Dash vs Chicago Red Stars Rio Tinto Stadium. Sandy, UT July 26 at 11:30 AM CT
CHICAGO – The Chicago Red Stars clash with the Houston Dash as they play in their second straight NWSL title game for the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup presented by P&G and Secret on Sunday, July 26th at 11:30 a.m. CT.
Previous Result: The Red Stars scored three goals as Bianca St. Georges, Rachel Hill, and Savannah McCaskill helped propel Chicago to their second league championship game in as many years with a 3-2 win vs Sky Blue FC in the NWSL Challenge Cup semifinal round.
Where to Watch: CBS, Twitch (International)
Opponent: Rachel Daly scored the lone goal in the game as the Houston Dash advanced to the championship with a 1-0 vs Portland Thorns FC.
Key Acquisitions: Houston Dash made several acquisitions during the offseason, the most notable coming via trade with their championship opponents. The Dash acquired Katie Naughton and the 18th overall pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft from the Red Stars in exchange for Kealia Watt. The Dash would also strike a deal with Utah Royals FC, acquiring Katie Stengel and the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 draft. Houston used the acquired picks to draft forwards Bridgette Andrzejewski (18th) from the University of North Carolina and Chloe Castaneda (22nd) from UCLA. In free agency, the Dash would acquire Maegan Kelly from Italy’s Florentia, Brianna Visalli from England’s Birmingham City, Megan Crosson, and Amanda Dennis. Houston would also acquire Erin Simon through a transfer with England’s West Ham United.
Storylines Oh, Canada: Both Houston and Chicago feature two talented Canadian players. The Dash’s Nichelle Prince was selected by Houston in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. She would make 43 appearances for the club entering the 2019 season. She was named to Canada’s 2019 FIFA World Cup Roster before an injury suffered at the tournament cut her season short. She made her return to the Dash during the NWSL Challenge Cup, becoming a key player in their roster. Similar to Prince, Chicago’s Bianca St. Georges had an injury that kept her out of action for the 2019 NWSL Season. Her first professional minutes came in the Challenge Cup, where she has made four starts, including the semifinal against Sky Blue FC. St.Georges would go on to score her first professional goal in Wednesday’s semifinal and pick up the assist on the game winning goal later in the match.
Welcome Back: For the second straight season and the second time in team history, the Chicago Red Stars will play for it all in the NWSL Championship. The Red Stars made their first appearance in the league’s yearly finale last season, and find themselves back in a championship game. The Red Stars join only the Portland Thorns (‘13, ‘17-’18) and North Carolina Courage (‘17-’19) as the only active NWSL teams to appear in multiple championship matches and to do so in consecutive years.
On Fire: Sunday’s championship game could provide another opportunity for fans to watch Savannah McCaskill’s run of form. Coming off her second Woman of the Match performance of the tournament last game, McCaskill has played in all six games of the Challenge Cup tallying four clearances defensively, a 72.8% passing completion rate with a 63.1% completion rate in the opposing half, seven key passes, and a goal and assist each. McCaskill’s previous Woman of the Match performance came in the preliminary round on July 1st, a game in which she played every minute of the scoreless draw against Portland Thorns FC.
Net Battle: Sunday’s final features two of the NWSL’s best goalkeepers facing off. Houston’s Jane Campbell ranks third in saves this tournament with 17 saves and has kept three clean sheets. Against Utah in the quarterfinal, her saves lifted Houston to the semifinals. Ahead of Campbell in the saves rankings is Chicago’s Alyssa Naeher. The U.S. WNT goalkeeper has made 18 saves in five games played so far in the Challenge Cup.