FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski was not shy about admitting the importance of FC Kansas City’s weekend matchup against the Chicago Red Stars.
His Blues are trying to hand the Red Stars their second loss of the season while climbing back into National Women’s Soccer League playoff contention — and doing it on just two days of rest.
The game starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Benedictine University Sports Complex and will be streamed on YouTube.
“This is going to be one of the greatest challenges this whole season,” Andonovski said. “We are fighting for that fourth spot and have to beat one of the best teams in the league, if not the best one. It is not going to be easy, but big players come up big in big games and it will be a great opportunity to see where we are before the playoffs.”
Part of Chicago’s strength this season has come from its stingy defense, which ranks first in the league with just 14 goals allowed in 13 games. However, FC Kansas City is not far behind allowing 16 in 14 games and a league-best four clean sheets for goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
The bigger difference comes on offense, where Chicago has a six-goal advantage in one less game. Christen Press and Sofia Huerta lead the team with six goals each.
Press is joined by seven additional Women’s World Cup veterans from three different countries. Shannon Boxx, Lori Chalupny and Julie Johnston from the U.S. women’s national team, while Karina LeBlanc, Adriana Leon, Melissa Tancredi were with Canada and Abby Erceg played for New Zealand.
FC Kansas City will counter with four U.S. women’s national team players in Becky Sauerbrunn, Lauren Holiday, Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly.
FC Kansas City is coming off a 3-2 loss to the Houston Dash on Wednesday which ended a three-game unbeaten streak and dropped them one spot to fifth in the NWSL standings with a 5-6-3 record. Chicago is in second with a 7-1-5 record.
The Blues will return from Chicago to play four consecutive matches at Swope Soccer Village and then end the regular season on the road against Sky Blue FC on Sept. 6.