Who: Kansas City Current vs. Chicago Red Stars
When: Saturday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. CT
Where: Children’s Mercy Park – Kansas City, Kansas
Watch: Stream on Paramount+
The Chicago Red Stars (4-1-3, 15 pts) come into the match with a six-game unbeaten streak of three wins and three draws. The Kansas City Current (2-4-2, 8 pts) are on an unbeaten streak as well with a more modest three game stretch of two wins sandwiching a draw.
This is the first of a pair of meetings in the 2022 regular season for these two midwestern teams. They did face off twice in the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup with the Current winning both matches with 2-1 results.
“We expect the best from Chicago, I’ve known Chris (Petrucelli) for a long, long time, lots of respect and admiration for him,” Current head coach Matt Potter stated. “I expect it to be a competitive game. They’ve got arguably one of the world’s best in Mal Pugh right now and they’ve got depth all over the field which is what they’re showing. They’ve lost some significant players as have we but just like us they’ve shown that they believe in their squad, they believe in the depth of the group and quite frankly, you know when one’s gone down somebody’s come in. You go, gosh they haven’t even skipped a beat, so I think that speaks to the professionalism of their group. They were in the final last year for a reason, they’re a really good team top to bottom. They have special talents, and they have the depth to pick up when somebody else goes down.”
“They’re very good. They’re very good,” Current defender/mid Alex Loera stated. “They’ve got Mallory Pugh, so as a defender we’re always watching the forwards and the midfielders. We’re ready, were excited and we’re hungry to continue our unbeaten streak as of last weekend.”
When facing star players it can be a challenge to find the balance of focusing on them and playing your own game. “Obviously, it’s super important that you pay attention to the other teams but you don’t lose sight of who you are and who your team is,” Loera explained. “Matt (coach Potter) always says, no matter what they do, as long as we do us better, that’s our success. So just making sure that we’re not focusing too much on them and we’re still focusing on ourselves and the good that we bring is a super important.”
Both squads have faced adversity with injuries and seem to keep finding ways to fill out a roster with varying levels of success. Kansas City took steps last week to alleviate some of their roster struggles when they traded for Cece Kizer and Addisyn Merrick. Both players received from Louisville are Kansas City area natives and arrived just in time to be available for the Current’s last match. Neither player had much practice time, but Kizer started and Merrick came off the bench to contribute to the 1-0 win over Gotham FC.
“Bringing both CeCe (Kizer) and Addisyn (Merrick) into the fold has been fantastic, to get days of training is really important for them. They’ve asked to do additional meetings to get up to speed in comparison to the other players. So obviously as a coach, all those are signs that things are incredibly positive. To be perfectly honest, playing today, you wouldn’t know that they hadn’t been here,” Coach Potter told media at practice this last week.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kansas City Current forward CeCe Kizer has a full week and extra training sessions to get up to speed with her new team and this could be an opportunity for her to score for her hometown team.
Defender Alex Loera may be tasked with taking on the dynamic Mallory Pugh.
Obviously Chicago Red Stars forward Mallory Pugh has scored five goals in the Red Stars last six matches and can be tough to contain.
Chloe Logarzo (right leg)
Sam Mewis (right leg)
Mallory Weber (SEI- right leg)
Lynn Williams (SEI- right leg)
Jenna Winebrenner (left leg)
Tierna Davidson (SEI- right knee)
Morgan Gautrat (left calf)
Casey Krueger (maternity leave)
Kayla Sharples (left knee)
Kealia Watt (maternity leave)
Sarah Woldmoe (maternity leave)
Arin Wright (right hip)
A bit of good news
Sam Mewis was one of the two big blockbuster trades the Current made in the off season. The other being Lynn Williams who only played 1 game (81 minutes) in the Challenge Cup before suffering a season ending injury. Mewis had a knee injury that she was recovering from when she was acquired. Unfortunately, Mewis played two 45-minute halves in the Challange Cup before being shut down and has not seen the field since.
When asked, Current head coach usually defers the answer but this week after training he did give a hint of hope.
“She took another step forward this week which is really exciting. You know, I think it must be such an emotional roller coaster for her and the way she handles it on a day-to-day basis is an example for us all. You know, we all go through moments or challenges or problems, the way she handles it on a day-to-day basis is an example for everybody. She took another step forward and personally, I hope she continues to take those steps for because we’ll be a better team when she’s on the field,” coach Potter stated.