NWSL Challenge Cup Final Preview

After an exciting month of action in Utah, we have finally arrived at the grand finale. The Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars will face off tomorrow for the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup title live on CBS at 12:30 PM ET/9:30 AM PT.

Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars

How They Got Here

Houston

Round-Robin: D (3-3) vs. UTA, W (2-0) vs. RGN, L (2-0) vs. NJ, L (1-0) vs. WAS

Quarterfinal: W (PKs 3-2) vs. UTA

Semifinal: W (1-0) vs. POR

Chicago

Round-Robin: L (2-1) vs. WAS, D (0-0) vs. POR, L (1-0) vs. NC, W (1-0) vs. UTA

Quarterfinal: W (PKs 4-3) vs. RGN

Semifinal: W (3-2) vs. NJ

When They Last Met

9/8/19 at SeatGeek Stadium in the NWSL regular season

Chicago Red Stars 3, Houston Dash 0

Goals: Sam Kerr (2), Savannah McCaskill

Key to Success

Houston: Run things to the right

Nichelle Prince has been excellent since arriving in the NWSL Challenge Cup, typically running into the right flank of the Dash attack. With left-back Casey Short ruled out for Chicago, Prince and the Dash would be wise to press the action towards that side of the pitch. In the semifinal, Midge Purce was able to dribble at Zoey Goralski, who started for Short, and played a ball in that led to Julie Ertz’s own goal.

Chicago: Communication on the backline

Julie Ertz and the Chicago defense will need to hold a tight line to prevent Rachel Daly from running in behind them. Without Short, they will need to rely on good spacing and communication to prevent lapses that Prince, Daly, and Brianna Visalli can capitalize on. Sky Blue took advantage of a corner kick in the semifinal, too, which Daly said the Dash are very gifted on. They may need to bunker down and try to play this one close.

Player to Watch

Houston: Rachel Daly

My vote for MVP of the NWSL Challenge Cup tournament, Daly is the focal point for the Dash. She’s dangerous on set pieces, when the ball is loose in the area, and when she can make one of her patented runs off the last shoulder of the opposing backline. If Houston is able to find the back of the net, chances are that Daly put it there or her presence helped open up another teammate to convert.

Chicago: Kealia Watt

Facing her former club, Watt needs to be the sparkplug in the Chicago attack. The sequence on the second goal vs. Sky Blue FC started when Watt skillfully dribbling around defenders into a good area. Her pace and confidence on the ball could give the Houston defenders trouble, especially if Megan Oyster can’t go.

Injury Report

Houston

OUT: Christine Nairn (general illness)

QUESTIONABLE: Andrzejewski (ankle), Oyster (thorax), Visalli (knee)

Chicago

OUT: Davidson (leg), Gautrat (leg), Mautz (knee), Nagasato (leg), Short (head), Stevens (leg), Wright (postpartum)

QUESTIONABLE: Colaprico (knee), Redei (hip)

Author

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.