No more road games. Utah Royals FC is finally home for its first-ever home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium. The game is sold out as 18,000-plus fans will fill the RioT on Saturday, April 15.
With so much excitement for this one, we turn our attention to the Chicago Red Stars in preparation for the upcoming game featured as the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime.
Record: 0-1-1 (W-L-T)
Head coach: Rory Dames, 6th season
Home stadium: Toyota Park
2018 season thus far
The 2018 season has not been very kind to the Red Stars. Injuries to key players like Julie Ertz, Casey Short, and Vanessa DiBenardo along with Sam Kerr being unavailable due to 2019 FIFA World Cup Qualifying have given the Red Stars a rough start. At least, for a team who has reached the post-season three years in a row.
With a 1-1- draw on opening weekend against the Houston Dash and a 3-2 home loss to the Portland Thorns the following week, the start is less than ideal for a team like the Red Stars.
But again, injuries to core players have made an impact this early in the season. The Red Stars will again be without those players for the game against Utah:
Vanessa DiBernardo (stress fracture pelvis – D45), Julie Ertz (right knee sprain), Casey Short (right ankle sprain – D45), Rosie White (right and left navicular fracture – D45).
Players to Watch
Alyssa Mautz - Mautz has been the Red Stars’ main goal scorer. She scored a brace against Portland Thorns FC in Week 2.
Sofia Huerta - Huerta’s play with the Red Stars has earned her call-ups with the U.S. Women’s National Team. Huerta is a playmaker from the midfield. This season, Huerta leads the league in assists with two.
Alyssa Naeher - Naeher’s form has been questioned and more so with her decisions to come off the line that has cost her team. She’s allowed four goals, three of them against Portland.
Chicago Red Stars Overall
The Red Stars coming to Rio Tinto will not be a team at full strength. That is good news for the Royals, but it does not mean Chicago will be an easy team to defeat. Rory Dames knows how to frustrate teams if he has to, and the Red Stars will not easily give up. They fell 3-1 in the second half in Week 2 against the mighty Thorns but somehow inched their way towards nearly equalizing late in the game.
Chicago, like the Royals, will be looking for their first win of the season, especially with a national audience watching.