The Washington Spirit will face the Chicago Red Stars for the NWSL championship on CBS at noon ET Saturday. While this might not be the championship matchup that was expected, both teams turned their hot end to the season and stout defenses into an appearance in the final in Louisville, Kentucky. Neither team has won an NWSL title before, so no matter what happens, we're guaranteed to see a first-time champion crowned.
On the field, there will also be a host of United States women's national soccer team players and we're here to help you out with who to look for while you're tuning in watching the biggest NWSL game of the season.
Kelly O'Hara, left back (148 caps): One of the most decorated players on the national team, O'Hara has been a stalwart in defense for both club and country. Always in the right place at the right time, O'Hara has made some impressive blocks this postseason to keep the Spirit in games despite them having a worse expected goals then their opposition.
Want more coverage of the Spirit? Listen below and make sure to follow Attacking Third, A CBS Soccer Podcast devoted to bringing you everything you need to know from the NWSL and around the globe.
Emily Sonnett, right back (61 caps): Another stay-at-home defender, Sonnett has been in and out of the national team rotation since 2016 but she has become a mainstay as of late. Involved in the 2019 World Cup title team, Sonnett has picked up steam since then, registering five assists for the national team.
Andi Sullivan, defensive midfielder (20 caps): Sullivan's two-way ability has been integral in the Spirit getting to where they are right now. Just as capable going in for a tackle as she is setting up a goal, Sullivan has been involved in five goals this season. She has been in and out of the national team due to her knee injury in 2017, but post-recovery, she has been stronger than ever.
Just missed: Ashley Hatch isn't far from getting another look in for the national team after winning the golden boot with 11 goals. Trinity Rodman has also been involved in the youth setup but has yet to make her senior debut. That said, after a season that saw her grab six assists in limited playing time, she too will likely be in Vlatko Andonovski's future plans. Ashley Sanchez is also on the radar after helping make the counter tick for the Spirit. While they may have been a team led by defense, there are also some solid attackers in the mix.
Chicago Red Stars
Julie Ertz, midfielder (116 caps): There aren't enough superlatives to describe what Ertz does on a soccer field. Everywhere she goes, the team gets better and wins. While her counting stats don't jump off of the page, when you look at Ertz play, you can see her leadership and ability shine through as she orchestrates the team.
Want more coverage of the Red Stars? Listen below and make sure to follow Attacking Third, A CBS Soccer Podcast devoted to bringing you everything you need to know from the NWSL and around the globe.
Mallory Pugh, forward (67 caps): Pugh just cleared the COVID protocol and could fill what was expected to be a huge void for the Red Starts in the final. Pugh was in the conversation for league MVP for the Red Stars coming off of a five-goal, four-assist campaign. One of the brightest young stars in the league and for the national team, she's irreplaceable to this Chicago side.
Alyssa Naeher, goalkeeper (78 caps): Only conceding 13 goals in league play, Naeher has quite the pair of safe hands in this match featuring two extremely strong keepers. Keeper has been a position in flux for the national team, but Naeher is very much in the mix for the overall No. 1 shirt.
Casey Krueger, right back (37 caps): Essentially in a direct competition with Sonnett, this is a game that could have extra incentive for Krueger to shine. She has won almost half of the tackles that she has gone in for while providing safe progression up the flank.