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NWSL mid-week 11 preview: Reign look to get halfway home undefeated

Alyssa Naeher

Chicago Red Stars (6-4-2) at Western New York Flash (4-6-2)
Sahlen’s Stadium
Wednesday, 7 pm EDT
Series: Red Stars lead, 2-1-1 (1-0-0 in 2014)

Their first meeting this season, a 1-0 Red Stars win, represents the 6-point gap between them and is the difference that has the Red Stars being talked up as a surprise team and the Flash languishing two games under .500. Both teams could use a win. The Red Stars are winless in three and have yet to beat a team that currently sits higher than 6th. The Flash, who are 6th, just need points to avoid losing touch with the playoff pack. The U.S. and Canadian players will miss this one as will Julianne Stich, suspended for elbowing Keelin Winters.

What to watch for: Stich is out and Jackie Santacateria is questionable with a calf strain. That leaves the Red Stars a bit shorthanded in the defensive part of their midfield. The Flash though, like to play over the top so lineups and tactics here will be fascinating. If speedy midfielders Sam Kerr and Zakiya Bywaters hook up on the same flank it figures to be worth the price of admission—certainly of a few youtube clicks.

Seattle Reign FC (9-0-2, 29 pts) at Boston Breakers (3-8-0)
Harvard Stadium
Thursday, 7 pm EDT
Series: Reign lead, 2-0-1 (1-0-0 in 2014)

A tough match to sell with national team players missing and the U.S.-France match being played in nearby Hartford. Then again, the Breakers have done a majority of their winning sans their U.S. internationals. They also finally made a move to fill out the backline, acquiring Bianca Sierra from the Spirit on Wednesday. The Reign are bidding to complete the first half of their season without losing and while they will be down several key players, they have had since June 7 when they beat the Red Stars to get accustomed to the idea.

What to watch for: The biggest absence for the Reign will be Hope Solo. Haley Kopmeyer is expected to get the nod for what will be her second NWSL appearance and first since early last season. The Breakers will be looking to take advantage of her inexperience and likely jitters. The good news for Kopmeyer is both regular center backs—Kendall Fletcher and Lauren Barnes—will be holding down the fort in front of her.


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