BetRivers’ 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup Odds Present Familiar Narrative For Chicago Red Stars

Posted By Derek Helling on March 26, 2021 - Last Updated on March 27, 2021

The old moniker of always a bridesmaid, never a bride, is appropriate for the Chicago Red Stars Challenge Cup odds for 2021. Illinois’ only NWSL club is among those with the shortest odds to win the tournament, but not the favorite.

It’s a familiar story for the likes of defenders Casey Krueger and Sarah Gorden plus midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo. Until the franchise makes championship futures bets pay off, it will probably stick around, too.

Chicago Red Stars Challenge Cup odds

Right now, BetRivers Sportsbook is the only legal Illinois sports betting app with markets on the tournament. Chicago is +700 to win the tourney, which includes all 10 current NWSL franchises.

The Red Stars play in the tournament’s kickoff match in Houston at 7:30 p.m. April 9. The meeting with the Dash, which is a rematch of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup championship tilt, will air on CBS Sports Network.

The tourney splits the 10 franchises into two divisions, East and West. Each team will play four matches, with draws and wins adding points to their standings in the divisional tables.

On May 8, the teams from each division with the most points will face-off for the Cup on CBS.

The rest of Chicago’s divisional play schedule looks like this:

  • Thursday, April 15, vs. Portland Thorns FC, 6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 20, vs. Kansas City FC, 7:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 27, at OL Reign, 9 p.m.

All matches are available for streaming on Paramount+, which was formerly CBS All-Access.

BetRivers has lines for the first two days of matches in the Challenge Cup as well. The Red Stars are a +300 underdog to Houston in a three-way moneyline. As the calendar moves closer, expect more markets and IL sportsbook operators to offer action.

Could Chicago turn bettors into winners this year and, in doing so, dispel the narrative of frequent runner-up? The team looks a little different than it did during that loss to the Dash.

Could new stars take bettors’ bankrolls out of the red?

During the 2020 Challenge Cup and Fall Series, the oft-mentioned narrative around the Red Stars was the loss of forward Sam Kerr to Chelsea. Chicago still got great execution out of its roster, but couldn’t get over the hump to claim top spots in either fixture.

In 2019 with Kerr, the Red Stars reached the championship match but fell to the North Carolina Courage. Thus, the reputation of a club that is always in contention but has yet to put the final piece of the puzzle in place has become established.

In this coming season, Chicago will have to replace Savannah McCaskill and Yuki Nagasato, whom the club traded to expansion club Racing FC Louisville in exchange for protection in the recent expansion draft. Nagasato led the league in assists in 2019.

The Red Stars took steps toward filling those holes via a trade with Sky Blue FC. Chicago got forward Mallory Pugh and midfielder Sarah Killion Woldmoe in exchange for draft picks and international slots.

The onus will be on those new acquisitions to build chemistry with existing Red Stars like Kealia Watt to give Chicago a championship attack. The back end of the pitch, even without keeper Alyssa Naeher, midfielder Julie Ertz, and defender Tierna Davidson – who will miss the tournament due to their participation in the USWNT’s Olympics prep – should be well-off.

If the Red Stars reach the championship game but can’t bring home the win again in 2021, oddsmakers will continue to rank them a second-tier contender. However, if they do make the bets pay off this year, bettors will enjoy the larger payout.

Photo by Rick Bowmer / AP
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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