PREVIEW – Six months of entertaining football comes to a close this Saturday, when the Chicago Red Stars take on the Washington Spirit in the 2021 NWSL Championship. Here’s everything you need to know about the scintillating finale of the season.
NWSL Championship preview
NWSL Championship 2021
(4) Chicago Red Stars vs. (3) Washington Spirit
Saturday, November 20 – 12 p.m. ET
Lynn Family Stadium – Louisville, Kentucky
CBS / Paramount +
From the standpoint of the standings, a Red Stars-Spirit final is rather surprising. But looking at the form these two teams have been in recently, it’s quite expected.
Chicago went 8-5-8 in their first 21 regular-season games, but they finished with three straight wins and knocked out Gotham FC 1-0 and seeded Portland Thorns 2-0 in the playoffs. playoffs. Over the duration of this five-game winning streak, the Red Stars have conceded only one goal.
Washington also ended the regular season on a high. After a 7-6-7 start, the Spirit won four straight games to close things off. They started the playoffs with a nervous overtime victory over No.6 North Carolina Courage in the quarterfinals, and outscored No.2 OL Reign, winning a 2-1 victory to secure their ticket to the final.
The keys to the match
This shock will certainly not be marred by defensive errors. It’s about which team can convert their limited chances and break through the other’s defense.
Neither of these two teams often concede. In Sarah Gorden, the Red Stars have a defensive rock. The nominee for Defender of the Year was, along with scorers Sarah Woldmoe, Mallory Pugh and Katie Johnson, the most notable player in his team’s losses to Gotham and the Thorns. She made several crucial clearances to keep Chicago’s goal empty in both games.
Likewise, Spirit goaltender Aubrey Bledsoe shone in the playoffs. She faced 17 total shots on target against Courage and Reign, saving 16. So we can expect both defenses to do their jobs and keep their lines clear for most of the game. It should come as no surprise if the game goes scoreless for 90 minutes and heads into extra time.
This is the type of match that must be decided by a single moment of individual brilliance. And no one shines better than Mallory Pugh. The quick winger broke the deadlock in the quarterfinals with a nifty finish before missing the semi-finals due to COVID-19 protocol. Now hungry for goals, Pugh is expected to return to the roster for the Championship game. Count on her to make a difference.
Chicago Red Stars 1-0 Spirit of Washington (AET)