If Illinois sportsbooks had posted futures on the 2021 NWSL season, the Chicago Red Stars probably wouldn’t have been the consensus favorite. As you’ll see in this 2021 NWSL Championship preview, that would have played right into Chicago’s feet.
The Red Stars face the Washington Spirit on Saturday morning looking for their first-ever league title in Louisville. If they pull it off, they’ll finish the narrative of defying a maelstrom of obstacles, many of which appeared recently.
2021 NWSL Championship preview: Chicago winning despite long odds
Perhaps no single match describes the Red Stars’ season more than the semifinal win to get to this point. The night prior, Chicago found out they would face Thorns FC in Portland without their top attacker, Mal Pugh.
Portland was the top seed in the NWSL postseason and had just set a record for the fewest goals allowed over the course of a season. Thus, IL sports betting apps cast the Thorns as a heavy favorite in their 3-way moneylines.
Just about 29 minutes into the match, Kealia Watt left with an injury. Chicago’s response to facing the league’s most vaunted defense without their top two attackers? Secure a spot in the title match with a 2-0 win.
Both defender Casey Krueger and Watt will be unavailable Saturday, though Pugh and defender Kayla Sharples are good to go. Due to that and the talent on Washington’s roster, the Spirit are the favorites. Again, though, that could be just how the Red Stars like it.
How do the Red Stars and Spirit line up?
This match is a classic battle of strengths even without Krueger on the backline. Obviously, though, Chicago’s chances g0t a lot better with Pugh and Sharples on the pitch.
The Red Stars won all season long with stellar play on their backline and in the midfield. They became the lowest seed to ever reach an NWSL final with the same formation, which often sees Arin Wright drop back to bolster the defense.
At the same time, they’ll face a dynamic Washington attack that is firing on all cylinders. Rookie of the Year Trinity Rodman and Golden Boot winner Ashley Hatch lead an offense that’s contributed to eight consecutive wins.
On the Spirit’s backend, while they don’t boast the depth and talent that Chicago does, they do have Keeper of the Year Aubrey Bledsoe in goal. That leaves the match to be decided in the midfield.
Lines on the match for Saturday
Bettors could consider the Red Stars’ backend and Washington up top as canceling each other out. The deciding factor could be whether Chicago will be able to create enough chances to get one or two by Bledsoe. That’s easier typed than done.
The Red Stars have accumulated 61 more corner kicks through the season than Washington. Only Portland had more of those. If Chicago can replicate that advantage on Saturday, that might give them the volume of chances necessary.
While sportsbooks deliberate, as the match begins at 11 a.m. on CBS Saturday, the Red Stars are preparing to again win a match that on paper they should lose. With that in mind, this is the last chance in 2021 at profiting off their underdog status. If you’re in Louisville for Saturday’s match and want to place a bet, our sister site PlayIndiana has posted a helpful guide.
|Operator||Red Stars to win||Draw||Thorns to win|