The Red Stars will be looking for their first win in 2021 against the Portland Thorns, who look to remain at the top of the West group. This 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup clash will be streamed exclusively on Paramount+ in the United States and free on Twitch internationally.
Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns preview
The Red Stars kicked off their Challenge Cup campaign with a 0-0 away draw against the Dash. Chicago dominated the reigning champs at the BBVA Compass Stadium but failed to make the performance count missing all 11 of their chances.
Goalkeeper Cassie Miller earned a clean sheet in her NWSL Debut against Portland while Alyssa Naeher was gone on international duty with the USWNT. The Red Stars will be without Naeher, Julie Ertz, Mallory Pugh, Tierna Davidson and Bianca St. Georges.
Red Stars head coach Rory Dames was happy about his team’s defensive efforts, especially about left-back Arin Wright who is back in action after over a year out due to maternity leave.
“I thought she played her way into the second half really well, found her footing, starting to get forwards like she used to, and started making those runs higher up the field,” said Dames. “So, I would say overall for the night I think Arin exceeded our expectations for sure in her first game back.”
Forwards Kealia Watt, Katie Johnson and Sarah Luebbert are tasked to break the deadlock and lead the Red Stars to a win that would place them above the Thorns.
The Portland Thorns will not back down easy, especially after their heated home display against Kansas City. The chippy affair took place at Providence Park on opening night where the Thorns welcomed back Kansas City to the NWSL with a 2-1 win.
The game saw the referee dish out four red cards. The first one was shown to Portland Thorns head coach Mark Parsons for abusive language aimed at the referee. Two minutes later, a brawl broke out that saw Portland’s Morgan Weaver and Kansas City’s Kristen Edmonds sent off. And striker Simone Charley was shown a second yellow in added time.
The Thorns appealed Weavers red card to the National Women’s Soccer League Disciplinary Committee and were successful. The committee decided to take away the 23-year-old's red card while giving Edmonds a fine and a one-game suspension for committing unsportsmanlike conduct. Also, Portland defender Meghan Klingenberg was issued a fine for post-match comments about the refereeing.
Despite being in a hot pot in social media, the Thorns look strong on the pitch and are considered favorites to lift the 2021 Challenge Cup. Costa Rican midfielder Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez took charge of the midfield last Friday and opened the scoring early to lead the team to victory. Portland looked strong on both outside laves via defender Christen Westphal on the right and Klingenberg on the left. The two dished-out assists from crosses.
The Thorns will aim to go 2-0 in Challenge Cup play even without some of their stars. The away side will play without Christine Sinclair, Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn, Sophia Smith, Lindsey Horan and Simone Charley.
How to watch the Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns
Chicago Red Stars vs Portland Thorns Broadcast Information
Stadium: SeatGeek Stadium (Bridgeview, Illinois)