It's another single-game COG this Tuesday. COG 23 brings rain-out weary and flood-delayed Sky Blue FC to Chicago, where the Red Stars would love to run up the score on them on their way to the playoffs.
There's another USA v Chile match tonight as well, so some important pieces of both squads won't be available for the one-off make-up match. That's bad enough, but considering Sky Blue had to play on Sunday morning after lightning cancelled their Saturday night matchup with Washington, the depleted squad will be playing on only one full day of rest. Oh, and they had to travel home from Maryland and to Chicago on that one day. Sounds awesome.
What Happened in COG 22?
Washington Spirit 1-1 Sky Blue FC
Sky Blue FC at Chicago Red Stars
Tuesday at 7:30PM Eastern on NWSL.COM and the App
Sky Blue looked a bit dangerous at times on Sunday morning, but Shea Groom's crossbar challenge success/PK miss ultimately left the squads level at the final whistle. With pride on the line and the Orlando Pride visiting on Saturday at noon, they've only got two chances to avoid a winless season. Can they do it in Chicago?
Hey, look, a starting lineup, just like Sunday!
Oh, no, just like Saturday/Sunday, that's not tonight's XI. Once again Dorsey, Johnson, Lloyd, and McCaskill are all away on international duty. That's fewer people OUT, which is good. Raquel Rodriguez is back from Costa Rica duty and Meehan and Stott are questionable.
It's going to be a tough ask to pull together the energy to defeat a Red Stars team that hasn't played since August 25th. Still, the hosts won't have regular starters Naeher, Brian, Short or Ertz. Summer Green is still with the U-23 USWNT, and Christina Murillo is with Mexico. None of the Red Stars appear on the injury list, except Stephanie McCaffrey, who has been listed as "illness" almost all season.
If you're keeping track at home, there seems to be a fairly good player for Chicago who may have previously had some experience with the Sky Blue organization. She'll be ready to go on Tuesday, and she might have a tiny chip on her shoulder after a certain organizing body of world football neglected to remember she exists when they announced the finalists for Women's World Player of the Year. Sam Kerr. That's your best player in the world.
Well, in any case, I'm still picking Sky Blue even though it's probably not even going to be close. Sky Blue has never defeated the Red Stars in NWSL play, so there is a lot of history pushing in the wrong direction. But it's been a crazy season and if the Red Stars can't get a win or draw against Sky Blue, we'll all have to wait until their weekend showdown with the Utah Royals to see who will take the 4th and final playoff spot.
Let's embrace that chaos. Let's hope for a head-to-head contest to lock up the final spot. That's the truest test of who belongs, isn't it? I'm convinced.
Sky Blue gets an inspired performance from Groom, who converts TWO PKs to collect the team's first ever victory against Chicago (and, obviously, of the season). Amanda Frisbie clears a Sam Kerr breakaway in the final seconds and the celebratory screams of Cloud 9 will be heard as far away as the curvature of the earth permits.
Chicago Red Stars 2-3 Sky Blue FC