Wednesday’s semifinal matchup in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup very well could come down to the goalkeepers, who are challengers for the competition’s Golden Glove award.
Guarding one goal at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah will be Sky Blue FC’s Kailen Sheridan, who has become of the best netminders in the National Women’s Soccer League.
At the other end of the field will be Red Stars keeper Alyssa Naeher, who backstopped the U.S. women’s national team to the Women’s World Cup last summer.
Naeher is coming off a game in which she made six saves in regulation before sixth-seeded Chicago overcame the third-seeded OL Reign in a shootout, 4-3, after a 0-0 draw in its quarterfinal encounter. She has produced 18 stops during the competition.
Sheridan made one save to boost the seventh-seeded New Jersey side to penalty-kick tie-breaker win over the No. 2 Washington Spirit. She leads all goalkeepers in the tournament with 20 saves and three clean sheets.
The teams will clash at 11 p.m. ET (CBS All Access).
Both teams have relied on their defense and goalkeepers to remain alive. They each have tallied two goals and allowed only three in five matches.
Sky Blue FC entered into this season under the leadership of new head coach Freya Coombe after taking the helm in an interim role last September. During the offseason Sky Blue FC made several acquisitions, obtaining Midge Purce from Portland Thorns FC, McCall Zerboni from the North Carolina Courage and Ifeoma Onumonu from OL Reign. Sky Blue FC also made four selections in the 2020 NWSL Draft, selecting Evelyne Viens fifth overall, Kaleigh Riehl 11th, Amanda McGlynn 20th and Chantelle Swaby 29th.
The Red Stars’ appearance in this years’ semifinal round continues a trend of consistency the team has displayed for almost a decade. With six consecutive year in an NWSL semifinal round, the Red Stars are the only team in NWSL history to accomplish such a feat. They also are the only major Chicago sports team to have made an appearance in their respective semifinal round in each of the last six years. This will be the first time the Red Stars will take on Sky Blue FC in a semifinal round.