CHICAGO – It’s familiar territory for the team at the end of the National Women’s Soccer League season along with a very familiar obstacle for the franchise to overcome.
Over the last five years, the Chicago Red Stars have qualified for the league’s playoffs by finishing in the top four teams in the league. That includes the 2019 season, where a 14-8-2 record earned them 44 points and a second seed in this year’s postseason.
That’s a playoff game against the Portland Thorns at 2:30 PM on Sunday at SeatGeek Stadium. At that moment, they’ll have a chance to do something they’ve never done: Win a NWSL playoff game.
Over the last four years, the Red Stars have seen their season end in the semifinal round as either a second, third, or fourth seed. Here’s what they’ve done in their four previous trips to the postseason.
2015- #3 FC Kansas City 3 #2 Red Stars 0
2016 – #2 Washington 2 #3 Red Stars 1
2017 – #1 North Carolina 1 #4 Red Stars 0
2018 – #1 North Carolina # 2 #4 Red Stars 0
Snapping this streak against the Thorns won’t be easy, considering the Red Stars has their troubles with the Thorns this season. After a 4-4 draw in Bridgeview on April 20th, the Red Stars dropped 3-0 decisions to Portland on June 2nd and August 25th.
Should the Red Stars get past Portland, they would meet the winner of the other semifinal between North Carolina Courage and Reign FC on Saturday, October 27th at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.
While the team hasn’t played since September 28th, they do enter the playoffs playing the best soccer of their season. Following the loss to the Thorns in late August, the Red Stars won the final five games of their regular season, outscoring their opponents 12-2 in that stretch. If they can run that streak to six, they’ll have done something they’ve yet to do in their time in the NWSL.
Add another, and they’ll have their franchise’s first championship.