By Kathryn L. Knapp
If the preseason has anything to do with the regular season, then both the Chicago Red Stars and St. Louis Athletica are ready to go. The two teams kick off this Saturday when St. Louis host Chicago at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Ill., at 8:00 p.m. ET.
The Red Stars wrapped up play on Tuesday by handing Illinois an 8-0 loss. Danesha Adams led the attack with a hat trick, but five other Red Stars (Lindsay Tarpley, Carli Lloyd, Ella Masar, Brittany Klein and Heather Garriock) tallied in the win, showing the team has a number of players to choose from.
Defensively, the Red Stars look tough as well, with Lydia Williams in goal. Nikkie Krzysik and Ifeoma Dieke led a tough back line. Can they find a solution for St. Louis rookie Kerri Hanks?
St. Louis topped College Cup runner-up Notre Dame 3-1 last week in a tune-up match. Kerri Hanks scored first. Lori Chalupny then added two to lead the club. Athletica played St. Louis on Saturday in a closed-door scrimmage to end its preseason.
In Athetica's WPS debut, Hanks and internationals Eniola Aluko (England) and Daniela (Brazil) will make noise up top.
St. Louis also has one of the top keepers in the league with Hope Solo directing traffic. The 27-year-old American goalie will lead a strong line into the match. Tina Ellertson and Elise Weber are two to tangle with for opposing teams.
Saturday’s match should be a hard-fought one, with both teams having moments of explosive offense. The defenders may have the last laugh however. Either way, it should be an entertaining show for the second WPS game.
Kathryn L. Knapp is women's soccer editor for Goal.com.