Ahead of the Challenge Cup, coach Rory Dames said the Red Stars’ goal was to win all four trophies this year: the Challenge Cup, the Women’s Cup, the NWSL Shield and the NWSL championship.
After losing to the Portland Thorns in Game 2 of the Challenge Cup, that ship sailed, but Dames and his team aren’t hanging their heads over it.
“In hindsight, [not playing in the final] has worked out pretty well for us,” Dames said. “We will give the players a few days to get away to physically and mentally recharge.”
The Red Stars have a list of priorities heading into their last Challenge Cup game Tuesday against OL Reign. The first is building up the fitness levels of Rachel Hill and Mallory Pugh, who are coming back from injury.
The second is tightening up specific defensive details. Dames said, as a group and individually, his team has defended well, but in reviewing all three games, space has been exploited.
The third is building on new attacking ideas.
The Red Stars are third in the Western Division. Portland has clinched first place and will play the top team from the Eastern division in the Challenge Cup Final.
There are no changes to the Red Stars’ injury report. All players will be available against OL Reign. Dames said neither Pugh nor Hill had any setbacks after the 1-1 draw against Kansas City.
OL Reign has allowed 13 shots on goal in two games and conceded two goals against the Thorns. If the Red Stars can build on the continuity they showed against Kansas City, they should return from Seattle with their first Challenge Cup victory.
“We’ll get back and have a good two-week build into the first game [of the regular season],” Dames said.