FC Kansas City (9-6-5) at Chicago Red Stars (8-3-9)
Sunday, 1:30 p.m. EDT; Toyota Park (FOX Sports 1 and Foxsportsgo.com)
Season series: Red Stars won, 1-0-1
All-Time series: Red Stars lead, 4-3-2
At Toyota Park: First meeting
Kansas City playoff history: 2013 semifinal (l. Thorns); 2014 NWSL Champions (d. Thorns; d. Reign)
Red Stars playoff history: none
One way the Red Stars will win: Every member of the Red Stars we have spoken to has said the key to beating Kansas City is to prevent them from getting into a possession rhythm. That means having Danielle Colaprico successfully quarterbacking the midfield and Arin Gilliland pushing high and trying to keep Leigh Ann Robinson on her heels defensively. The Red Stars have enough players capable of finishing, so their success figures to lie in putting Christen Press and Jen Hoy in favorable positions and not allowing the Blues to stay comfortable on the ball.
One way Kansas City will win: Not only are the Blues excellent in possession, they switch the point of attack more efficiently than any NWSL side. The Red Stars like to send their left back, Gilliland, on never-ending overlap runs. That should open up some space for Kansas City to attack through Heather O’Reilly and Leigh Ann Robinson who form a very dangerous pairing on the right flank. Some quick switching balls could stretch out the Red Stars shape and if Kansas City and the exposed space could be just what Amy Rodriguez needs to make her dynamic, off-the-ball runs.
Memorable meeting – Red Stars 2, Kansas City 1; August 18, 2013
It was the final match of the inaugural NWSL season and FC Kansas City needed a draw to win the Shield and secure home-field advantage for both playoff rounds. They took an early lead and appeared to be home free until then rookie Jen Hoy scored just before halftime. The Blues nursed the 1-1 score into stoppage time, when Hoy struck again, handing the Shield to the Flash and setting FC Kansas City up with a semifinal against the Thorns. In that match they took a 2-0 lead but faded late, losing 3-2 in extra time.
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