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
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
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.
OUT: Christine Nairn (general illness)
QUESTIONABLE: Andrzejewski (ankle), Oyster (thorax), Visalli (knee)
OUT: Davidson (leg), Gautrat (leg), Mautz (knee), Nagasato (leg), Short (head), Stevens (leg), Wright (postpartum)
QUESTIONABLE: Colaprico (knee), Redei (hip)