On Saturday, the only match is one of the “classics” in the NWSL. The Chicago Red Stars host Portland Thorns FC in the next chapter of one of the most storied series in league history.
These two clubs have met 26 times in all the different NWSL competitions, with 12 wins for the Oregonians, four for today’s hosts, and ten draws. Is there reason to believe that the home side could take a step toward evening the series?
Chicago Red Stars odds for Saturday
In NWSL regular season or postseason play, the Red Stars have won three of their previous four meetings with the Thorns, including playoff wins in 2019 and 2021. Prior to that, Chicago had won just one of its 20 all-time meetings with Portland.
Because of their strong overall history in this series, the Thorns are the favorite on the 3-way moneyline at legal Canadian and US sportsbooks like Caesars.
Saturday’s match, which starts at 8 p.m. EDT and can be seen on Twitch, will be Portland’s first road match of the season after starting the season with four straight home tests. Last season, the Thorns won six of their 12 matches away from home, which was the most road wins of any NWSL team.
Which players could make the difference?
Entering Chicago’s last match as a halftime sub, Mallory Pugh scored two goals and had an assist in Chicago’s win on Sunday. Pugh became the only player in NWSL history to have multiple goals and an assist in a game she did not start.
Despite missing several matches due to a concussion, Pugh is still fifth in the NWSL in terms of shots on target according to American Soccer Analysis. Only Ashley Hatch has outperformed Pugh so far this season as far as G-xG goes.
Yazmeen Ryan had four shots in the team’s 2-0 loss to Houston on Saturday while also completing 40 of her 43 pass attempts (93.0 percent). Since 2016, the only other NWSL player to have a match with four or more shots while having such a high pass accuracy on 40+ passes is Marta with two such matches.
With Pugh in the match and some recent momentum in this series, the Red Stars might be worth a look.