How The Chicago Red Stars and Western New York Flash Can Make the NWSL Final

ROCHESTER, NY - JULY 19: Samantha Kerr #20 of Sky Blue FC takes a shot between Brittany Taylor #13 and Chantel Jones #18 of Western New York Flash during the second half at Sahlen's Stadium on July 19, 2015 in Rochester, New York. The Sky Blue FC and the Western New York Flash played to a 0-0 draw. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

The Chicago Red Stars and Western New York Flash have remained in the top four of the NWSL for most of the season. The Flash and Red Stars’ accomplishment has earned them credibility as these teams earned their playoff spots throughout the year. They’re deserving to be in Houston for mastering their style of play to the point of reaching the semifinals.

How the Chicago Red Stars and Western New York Flash Can Make the NWSL Final

The Chicago Red Stars, living up to the city’s reputation, were able to grind out matches for wins. The Red Stars only average 1.2 goals a game according to www.soccerpunter.com. They give up only one goal per game making their style more predicated on team defense.

The Red Stars are not a bore to watch. Christen Press and Sofia Huerta can provide the goals but Vanessa DeBernardo is pulling the strings for the attack.

How the Chicago Red Stars Can Win

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The Red Stars have to find the right time to attack. DeBernardo is more than capable to know when to push forward as she is a league leader in assists. The 4-4-2 probable diamond formation can be morphed into a basic 4-4-2 to stiffen the Washington Spirit attack.

Chicago has won five games by one goal and drawn four matches in which they scored one goal. The Red Stars only had seven total shots in their last game against Washington. However, the Spirit and Chicago had four shots on target.

Chicago bullied the Spirit in their last match as well, committing nine fouls. Washington’s weakness is physical play that can disrupt their version of tiki-taka football. The Red Stars are so hard working they can frustrate the Spirit possessing style of soccer.

How the Chicago Red Stars Can Lose

Let Washington score first. The Red Stars have let their opponents score first in four defeats. Washington can score, play their trademark possession game to defend, and score again. The Spirit can eventually play keep away with the ball against Chicago. The Red Stars are frontrunners with no ability to mount a comeback if scored upon.

How the Western New York Flash Can Win

The Western New York Flash started scoring goals for fun after they lost their first three out of five matches. The Flash’s cavalier style propelled them into a playoff position. They have six victories and draws which were multi-scored games with at least two goals scored.

Their last game against the Portland Thorns was a 3-2 defeat if not for a penalty. Western New York outscored the Thorns in the second half and may use this formation which was somewhat successful:

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The Flash, using the 4-3-3 formation, may have Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald drift outside, pushing Samantha Mewis forward. Lynn or Jessica can feed the ball inside for three attackers instead of two. Western New York can also mix in their aggressive attack to collect set pieces.

The Flash had gotten off eight shots despite having forty-two percent of the possession in their loss against Portland. They showed themselves capable of getting chances from the Thorns.

How the Western New York Flash Can Lose

Sloppy defending. The Flash committed 11 fouls against Portland at Providence Park. The Thorns, from defense to attack, are the most disciplined team in the NWSL.  Western New York’s physicality wouldn’t work playing a Portland side who are equally physical and can play fundamentally sound football.

The Flash’s mental sharpness will be tested in this semi-final more than it will be if they make it to Texas.

Washington and Portland have their flaws that can prevent them from championship glory. They’ll get the praise if they lift the trophy while Chicago will be chastised for playing ugly soccer. Western New York’s potential championship may have the NWSL switching the playoff format into a two game total goal series.

The Red Stars and The Flash have consistently won all season to be relevant in the semi-finals. Portland and Washington are not entitled to be in Houston. No team is, but Chicago and Western New York deserve respect if they pull off the upsets.

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