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NWSL mid-Week 5 preview: teams go shorthanded

Taylor Vancil_Red Stars

Taylor Vancil_Red Stars

Taylor Vancil should get her first start of 2014 with Karina LeBlanc training with Canada. (Photo credit Chicago Red Stars/Smith)

Chicago Red Stars (1-2-0) at Sky Blue FC (1-2-2)
Yurcak Field
Wednesday, 7 pm EDT
Series: tied, 0-0-2

National team call-ups will start gutting NWSL sides here with both teams down their regular goalkeeper and one center back. In goal both teams have suitable replacements with Sky Blue’s Brittany Cameron having blanked the Breakers on the weekend and the Red Stars’ Taylor Vancil having impressed in limited opportunity last season. The bigger concerns will be replacing Julie Johnston in the center of the Red Stars’ defense and Christie Rampone and Kelley O’Hara in the middle and left side for Sky Blue. The bigger concern for the Red Stars is having played three matches and still not scoring in the run of play.

What to watch for: Jen Hoy has been slow to get off the mark in 2014 but she has pace which could be a missing element for Sky Blue without Rampone and O’Hara in the back. Hoy could pose a problem for the manufactured Sky Blue back line. On the other end a young Sky Blue attacking group will face a Red Stars defense that could include two rookies if Samantha Johnson and Kecia Morway start together.

FC Kansas City (2-2-1) at Western New York Flash (1-1-1)
Sahlen’s Stadium
Wednesday, 7 pm EDT
Series: Flash lead, 1-0-1

The Flash were the only team that seemed to befuddle FC Kansas City last season, but both teams enter this one in a transitional state. The Blues have won two straight by an aggregate 5-0 but won’t have Becky Sauerbrunn, Lauren Holiday, Amy Rodriguez, or Liz Bogus for this one and Erika Tymrak and Kassey Kallman are both nursing injuries. The Flash will be down Abby Wambach and Carli Looyd to the U.S. plus Spanish newcomers Vicky Losada and Sonia Bermudez. Their June and July meetings figure to bring better juice.

What to watch for: FC Kansas City should have enough personnel to stick to their usual system even if down a few important players. The Flash should also be clean in their back seven but face a dearth of attackers. And both regular goalkeepers should be manning their boxes. With so many veterans out of action the spotlight could fall to rookies like Kansas City’s Frances Silva or the Flash’s Courtney Verloo.

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