FC Kansas City hosts the Chicago Red Stars Saturday evening for the second time this season and will be looking for another win. The Blues are 7-4-3 with four straight victories and haven't loss in six. FC Kansas City is currently in 2nd place and Chicago in 3rd in the NWSL so both teams will be looking for points to solidify their spots.
The Blues won their previous meeting 1-0 in April on an Amy Rodriguez goal very early in the match. Chicago has matched up well with the Blues going back to last year as well when the Red Stars only lost once to the FC Kansas City but took two victories and a draw.
Red Stars head coach Rory Dames is familiar with the Blues coaches. Both head coach Vlatko Andonovski and assistant Huw Williams faced Dames before the NWSL formed. The three coaches all met in youth soccer tournaments and championship several times. "Huw more than me," Andonovski explained. "But we have coached against each other several times and it has always been a good competitive game, regardless of what age or level and I expect nothing less this time."
Andonovski did not think that familiarity gave either team an advantage though, "I don't think it helps or hurts either way it's just kind of interesting that we both moved from youth soccer to professional and here we are again facing each other."
"We know it's not going to be an easy game," Andonovski said about Chicago. "They are very disciplined, organized, a hardworking team, a Midwest team mentality. On our side we have to be smart and find a way to break them down."
Returning National teamers
The U.S. just played a pair of friendlies with France (1-0 win and 2-2 draw) and several FC Kansas City players just returned. Becky Sauerbrunn and Lauren Holiday both played 90 minutes in both matches and Amy Rodriguez subbed into the match Thursday in the 79th minute.
"How much they will play is a question mark, they will be exhausted but at the same time we've got Sarah (Hagen), A-Rod and Barnie (Nicole Barnhart) fresh so they should get some minutes.
In the past when Sauerbrunn returned from U.S. matches it was difficult to leave her out of the lineup but Andonovski has more depth now. "With Amy LePeilbet playing 90 minutes against Houston and playing well I feel more comfortable if she (Sauerbrunn) is not playing but still Becky is Becky, the same with Lauren (Holiday).
Katrina Gorry, the diminutive Australian midfielder played well for seventy minutes in the Blues win in Houston last week. "Katrina is a very talented, technical player, very busy in the middle, she is going to do very well for us. In Houston she was good but I don't think she was near her best game yet. She came not even a week before that game in the country," Andonovski explained.
Sarah Hagen should have arrived after U.S. camp as well but Andonovski was doubtful she would see time this weekend. "Sarah will be here but I do not know if she will get to play since we have not seen her. We know who she is, we have seen so many game tapes, games and goals from her but we haven't seen her in person so I don't think it's fair to her to just throw her in the game and say you need to go score a goal for us," Andonovski observed.
She could still be an option off of the bench if the Blues need a late goal.