These are the sort of big, controversial claims you need to make in a preview, we reckon.

But as much as we might big-up our local Aussie hero - who's already made history by taking Chicago to the NWSL Championship decider - the less controversial of those two statements is calling Carolina the greatest team.

They've won the last three NWSL Shields, the last two NWSL Championships and have reached the final of the last two Women's International Championship Cups, winning in 2018.

They feature an established settled squad of top-drawer US talent and their imports are always seemingly faultless these days.

So how are Chicago going to overcome one of the NWSL's true dynasties? Well, it may surprise you to learn that they've got a lot more than just Kerr to bank on this Monday morning.

Let us explain...


Records tumbling

After a sluggish mid-season dip that saw the club lose and draw with some of the NWSL's worst clubs, Red Stars and Kerr have turned their fortures around and are now on an incredible winning streak. They would equal the NWSL's all-time record with a win in the Championship decider.


Thanks to the league's leading assister Debinha and second highest goalscorer Kristin Hamilton, North Carolina have actually managed to outscore Chicago this season, despite Kerr's whopping 18-goal regular season haul.

A unique advantage

Chicago have scored the most goals in the NWSL this season from outside the box and North Carolina have conceded the joint-most from outside the box. With Chicago's firepower extending back into the midfield and a brilliant record from corners, this could be Chicago's secret weapon...

Source: Chicago Red Stars


A big part of Chicago's Championship and Shield drought, despite their relative consistency over the NWSL era, has been their losing record to North Carolina.

This is the third time these two clubs have met in the playoffs and the Courage are yet to concede a goal in winning both games, which gives the Courage - already boasting the far superior Championship experience - an extra mental edge heading into this one.

It's not all bad news though. Chicago actually have a winning record in the NWSL regular-season, with five wins and three draws in the teams' nine matches played.

So while Carolina have the big-game gusto, Chicago clearly have the everday Courage sussed.



Long serving US coach Rory Dames has been with the Red Stars since 2011! In that time he's secured a 60% winning percentage and developed some of the league's best talent, but never made it past a Playoff semi-final.

He's never had a player like Kerr up front though.

Key Player

We're going to step off the Kerr bandwagon for one second here and talk Yuki Nagasato.

She's the playmaker who's been key to Kerr's goalscoring prolifacy this season and it was her phenomenal curling through ball that allowed Kerr to break Portland hearts early in their semi-final.

She possesses that range that could be Chicago's secret weapon and if Chicago are going to cause an upset this time, her big-game experience (World Cup winner) is going to be absolutely crucial.

Courage's Abby Erceg is our standout



Liverpudlian Paul Riley is another very experienced NWSL gaffer, working in various capacities in the US football system since the late 1990s.

His stats talk for themselves. While Dames is the loyal servant of Chicago and hometown hero of sorts, Riley is the star import with a trophy cabinet to match. He's a two-time NWSL Championship winner, two-time Shield winner and two-time Coach of the Year. Nuff said.

Key Player

There are two in that Courage attacking set up that really demand attention. League-leading assister and Brazillian import Debinha and their leading goalscorer Kristin Hamilton.

But we're going to quickly jump back on the Kerr bandwagon here so we can chat Kiwi international and Courage captain, Abby Erceg.

The resolute defender is fresh from a Team of the Year nod and has been key to the Courage's excellent defensive record this season, conceding the least goals in the league as the only club to cop less than a goal per game (five less than Chicago).

Her experience in seven World Cups and 132 international caps with the Football Ferns, not to mention 50 appearances for the Courage and a career taking her from Spain to Adelaide, well...that's all going to be crucial too.

The Courage like to play attacking football, which sets the stage for Chicago's quick breaks. So if North Carolina are going to somehow keep Kerr out, Erceg's leadership in the backline will be crucial.


North Carolina Courage vs Chicago Red Stars

Monday, October 28

Sahlen's Stadium, WakeMED Soccer Park

6:30 AM (AEST)


Check out the NWSL's official website before the match for a live stream!