Ladies and Gentlemen, here we are: The 2015 NWSL playoffs. This Sunday, the best four teams from the regular season (The Seattle Reign, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, and Washington Spirit), will battle it out for a place in the final, and you will be able to catch it all on Fox Sports 1.
You’re probably asking yourself, “but I don’t know anything about the NWSL? Why should I care when the Chicago Red Stars host FC Kansas City on Sunday, the 13th at 1:30 PM EST?”
Here’s why: Chicago’s Christen Press has been on fire whenever she has featured for the Red Stars this season. Remember how amazing Alex Morgan was supposed to be at the 2015 World Cup? That’s how good Press has been all season. She has scored 10 goals in 11 games, easily giving her the highest goals-per-game ratio in the league, and it just might take another Herculean effort from her to over come the defending champions.
Waiting for Press, however, is FC Kansas City, who, after a slow start to the season has been impressive to say the least. In the club’s last 6 games, they are undefeated; they have only lost 2 out of their last 11. They tied the NWSL record for consecutive shutouts, and led the league in shutouts overall, refusing to concede a single goal 45% of the time they stepped out onto the pitch.
Kansas City’s scoring is also far more balanced than Chicago’s. Their highest scorer, the USWNT’s Amy Rodriguez, scored 6, and 8 others netted 2 or more. That’s almost night and day compared to Chicago, who, not including Press and 6 goal Sofia Huerta, only had 4 players net two or more.
Make no mistake, the outcome of Sunday’s match will hinge greatly on the battle between FC Kansas City’s defense and Christen Press, especially because it looks like 6 goal Huerta will likely miss Sunday’s match with a left knee sprain. Luckily for Press and Chicago, Becky Sauerbrunn, the rock of FCKC’s defense and a USWNT stalwart, is still getting back to 100% from her right hamstring strain, though she is listed as “probable.”
A Chicago win will likely see them scoring two or more goals. No team dropped more points (13) from winging positions this year than the Red Stars, and as such it is hard to trust them with anything less than a two goals lead going into the end of the game. That being said, Chicago could also park the bus and hope for some Press magic on the counter attack; greater teams than FCKC have succumbed to such a tactic.
As for Kansas City, they will need to shut down Press for a win. Yes, they could also win in a shootout, but playing an open, high scoring match could lead to Press flourishing and inspiring her team to victory.
While it ostensibly seems that FCKC has more routes to victory, the Red Stars have an ability to succeed no matter which way the match goes.
I see Kansas city pulling out the victory 2-1, but here’s hoping to see Press shine in an open affair. Regardless, you’ll have to tune into Fox Sports 1 at 1:30 PM EST on Sunday to see what happens.
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