NWSL Championship Preview: North Carolina Courage vs Chicago Red Stars

Posted By Peter Nolan on October 26, 2019

Who: North Carolina Courage vs Chicago Red Stars
When: Sunday, October 27th, 3:30pm ET
Line: North Carolina Courage -200 | Draw +320 | Chicago Red Stars +400

Sunday’s NWSL Championship match between the Chicago Red Stars and defending league champions North Carolina Courage at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, North Carolina is a star-studded affair. The game is a fitting capper to a year that saw many of Sunday’s participants thrive at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Two star-studded rosters

Reading the North Carolina roster is liable to produce double takes with a who’s who of the women’s international game leaping off the page, starting with Canada’s number one Stephanie Labbe in goal for the Courage.

From there each line of the Courage team features a 2019 World Cup winner, from Abby Dahlkemper at center-back to Sam Mewis and Crystal Dunn in the midfield, and onto striker Jessica Mc Donald.

McDonald is partnered at the top of the North Carolina formation by former and perhaps future USWNT attacker Lynn Williams. The pair is ably backed up by North Carolina’s leading goal scorer and 2nd team NWSL Best 11, Kristen Hamilton. Hamilton finished tied for second in the league with nine goals, trailing only Chicago ace Sam Kerr, who notched a single season league record with 18.

North Carolina coach Paul Reilly also has legendary USWNT winger Heather O’Reilly playing at fullback. She is opposite former U.S. international Jalene Hinkle, Brazil’s Debinha, and Irish international Denise O’Sullivan.

So, a star studded crew.

Not that a Chicago side led by Kerr and USWNT firebrand Julie Ertz will be backing down. In fact, the Red Stars starting lineup features five USWNT World Cup winners, one more than the Courage. Alyssa Naeher backstopped the U.S. to the World Cup title. She is joined by rising star Tierna Davidson, fullback Casey Short, and midfielder Morgan Brian.

Chicago depends on Japan’s Yuri Nagasto to make the attack go. Nagasto is a 2011 World Cup winner, when Japan defeated the U.S.. She led the league in assists this season with eight. Coach Rory Dames can also count on top flight professionals like Savannah McKaskill (6 USWNT caps) and Denise Colaprico (2 USWNT caps).

Fans who decry playoffs for the reason that a lesser team can make a playoff run to the title will be happy to see a Championship match that features the two best performers, over a 24 game season in the league, battle for the NWSL hardware.

North Carolina Courage vs Chicago Red Stars match preview

The statistics say that the Courage should win. North Carolina topped the table with 49 points, five more than the Red Stars amassed. NC set a league record for goals scored in a single season with 54. They did so while only surrendering 23, the fewest in the league.

Chicago was the second most lethal side in the nine team league, although well behind with 41 goals. The Red Stars finished in fourth place in goals against, conceding 28. However, with Naeher and Ertz back from representing the U.S. in France, the Chicago defense figures to be a tougher nut to crack.

Chicago can take comfort in a solid away record of 7 wins, 4 losses, and 1 draw. That peace is likely to be destroyed when North Carolina’s home mark of 8 wins, 0 defeats, ad 4 ties is factored in.

This matchup should only help the league build on the “World Cup” bounce that saw attendance and attention rise as fans tuned in to see their World Cup heroes in club action.

The game comes at the end of a busy week for the league and the women’s game in the United States. News spread that Louisville will be coming on board in 2021 expansion and it has been reported that one team is likely to be added for next season. Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl reported that either or Sacramento or Atlanta are the most likely new entrants for 2020.

Where to bet NWSL in the US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook.

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Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan has been on the soccer beat for many years now, covering the United States Men's and Women's teams, from the SnowClasico to Azteca and back again. Along with the US national teams, Peter will provide insight into the MLS and NWSL, with a focus on the NY Red Bulls and NYCFC.

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