Portland Thorns FC (6-6-3) at Chicago Red Stars (6-6-3)
Benedictine University Sports Complex
Wednesday, 8 pm EDT
Series: Tied, 1-2-2 (0-0-1 in 2014)
The second leg of a home-and-home follows the 2-2 draw on 4th of July in Portland and looms as a crucial match with both teams now looking up at the playoff positions. The Red Stars remain winless (0-4-2) since reeling off five straight to touch 2nd place while the Thorns remain adrift in the midst of a period during which they just cannot seem to find the right mix for their many talented players. Five days ago it looked like a Thorns rout until the Red Stars struck twice in the final quarter-hour to earn a draw. If no draw here the loser is stranded in 6th with no hope of winning the season series from the other.
What to watch for: The Thorns learned, or had in reinforced, on July 4 that Christen Press is one of the most dangerous players in the league. They allowed her to sneak between defenders for one goal and she burned them with a beauty on the 2nd after a lazy clearance. That should open the door for the Red Stars to run more of their attack through Press with service from Lori Chalupny and Vanessa DiBernardo among others. For the Thorns, will Christine Sinclair return to the starting lineup? And have they already become too dependent on Alex Morgan?