Sky Blue to Close Out the Fall Series Against Chicago Red Stars

Sky Blue FC will play the Chicago Red Stars in their fourth and final Fall Series match this Saturday, October 10. The match will kick off at 12:30 p.m. ET at MSU Soccer Park at Pittser Field at Montclair State University, home of New York Red Bulls II. NJM Insurance Group will present the match digitally for Sky Blue supporters. U.S. fans can watch on CBS All Access, while international fans can stream on Twitch. 

The Opponent

The Red Stars have added one point to their Fall Series campaign since their last meeting with Sky Blue. A 1-1 draw with the Washington Spirit on September 26 brought the Red Stars to 4 total points and a fourth-place standing in the Fall Series table. Saturday is the team’s last Fall Series match as well, so they will be looking for three points to move further up in the league standings.

Offensively, the high-powered Chicago attack will likely feature forward Kealia Watt. The NWSL veteran leads her team with two Fall Series goals, both of which came against Sky Blue. Watt has consistently put NWSL defenses under pressure in 2020 and recently earned a USWNT call-up because of her impressive play.

Veterans Vanessa DiBernardo and Morgan Gautrat will likely lead the Chicago midfield. DiBernardo brings an impressive 86% success rate on tackles. Meanwhile, Gautrat has won 70% of her duels in the Fall Series. The pair make it very hard for their opponents to start the attack, something the Sky Blue offense will have to be aware of on Saturday.

The Chicago backline will likely be led by Sarah Gorden, who has worked together with fellow center back, Zoe Goralski to make it very difficult for opponents to break through on goal this fall. Gordon was just named to the USWNT training camp roster, likely because of her many strong defensive performances in 2020.

While getting past the Chicago backline will be no small task, finding a way around goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher will be an even more significant challenge for the Sky Blue attack. Naeher has the second most clean sheets in NWSL history, and she will be looking to earn one more on Saturday.

The Team

On September 20, Sky Blue played the Red Stars to a 4-1 loss at SeatGeek Stadium in Chicago. Despite the disappointing result, Sky Blue recorded more possession and more shots on goal than the Red Stars. The team will be hoping to be more clinical in front of the goal on Saturday to finish off the series with three points.

Fans can expect Sky Blue forwards Ifeoma Onumonu and Midge Purce to put consistent pressure on Chicago’s backline on Saturday. Since playing their first game in the attack together in the Fall Series, the two have connected well and combined for three goals in just three matches. The impressive play has not gone unnoticed, as Onumonu was named the Saker ShopRite Woman of the Match in the first two Fall Series games. Meanwhile, Purce was just named to the USWNT training camp roster after impressing the coaching staff with many memorable performances in 2020.

Sky Blue’s midfield will likely include the pairing of captain Sarah Woldmoe and Domi Richardson starting alongside each other. Woldmoe leads Sky Blue in appearances and has played every minute of the 2020 matches. The pair is usually joined by Jennifer Cudjoe; however, she is out due to yellow card accumulation. After seeing time in every Fall Series match so far, midfielder Nicole Baxter could make her first career NWSL start.

On the backline, fans can expect two quality performances from Sky Blue’s outside backs, Imani Dorsey and Sabrina Flores. Dorsey was named the Saker ShopRite Woman of the match for her impressive performance on both sides of the ball last weekend against the Spirit. On the other side of the field, Flores often plays a significant role in jumpstarting the Sky Blue attack, as she brings a 57% success rate on long passes. Combined, Dorsey and Flores lead the team in chances created and complete an impressive 83% of their passes on the attacking side.

In goal for Sky Blue, Kailen Sheridan will likely be looking to finish off her stellar 2020 campaign with a clean sheet. The goalkeeper racked up several accolades this year, including the Verizon Golden Glove and multiple save of the match awards during the Challenge Cup, and one save of the week in the Fall Series. Sheridan has nine total saves in the Fall Series and will likely add to this number on Saturday.

Sky Blue will enter this weekend’s match with three points through three games in the Fall Series. The team currently sits in 6th place in the league standings, but a win against Chicago would surely improve their position in the table.