Saturday, July 18, 2009


The regular-season countdown is now at four games. This is not a bad time to regularly repeat the "must-win" motto as the Chicago Red Stars stand on the outside of the Women's Professional Soccer playoff race.

Chicago (4-7-5) stays out on the road to take on Sky Blue FC (5-6-4) at 3:30 p.m. (CST) on Sunday at Yurcak Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. The game will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel.

Sky Blue has had the upper hand over the Red Stars this season with a 2-0-1 record head-to-head. They also have outscored Chicago, 3-0, with former Red Stars preseason goalkeeper Jenni Branam posting three clean sheets.

With Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Lindsay Tarpley away with the U.S. Women's National Team and Karen Carney with the England National Team, the Red Stars have plenty of voids at midfield and forward to make up for.

Chicago's leading goal scorer, Cristiane, will be the obvious centerpiece this weekend. She has six goals out of her 16 shots on goal, and she became the first WPS player to net a hat trick on July 12 against FC Gold Pride.

Outside of Cristiane, Chicago has scored only seven goals, with its four national team absences accounting for six of them. That means Cristiane and Brittany Klein (pictured above; one goal against Boston on April 25) are the only Red Stars on Sunday's road trip to find the back of the net this season.

FC Gold Pride has its international absences, too, with defender Christie Rampone and midfielder/forward Heather O'Reilly (U.S.) and midfielder Kelly Parker (Canada) missing this Sunday.

Heading into the weekend, the Red Stars and Washington Freedom are tied in fifth place with 17 points apiece, and Sky Blue is clinging onto the fourth and final playoff spot with 19 points. St. Louis Athletica (23) and the Boston Breakers (21) are currently second and third, respectively, with the Los Angeles Sol dominating with 37 points.

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