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Sky Blue looking for win in a rare mid-week, afternoon match in Chicago

Sky Blue still in the hunt for the playoffs but time is of the essence.

Sky Blue Photo/Robyn McNeil

Once again the momentum has swing, but this time in the favor of Sky Blue FC.  And just when it seemed they were out of the playoff race following a heartbreaking 2-1, last-minute defeat to the Western New York Flash at home, the New Jersey team went on the road and blanked Houston, 2-0.

But Sky Blue FC players and staff didn't have a lot of time to celebrate. Today they are on the road again with yet another must-win game against the Chicago Red Stars in a rare 2 p.m. start.

Sky Blue's victory puts them a 4-7-5 for 17 points and eighth place. They are five points behind FC Kansas City who sit in the fourth playoff spot.

Chicago comes in at 7-2-6 for 27 points and second place. However, they are coming off a 2-1 loss to Portland FC Thorns on national television.

History: Chicago has won both matches this year without giving up a goal.  On May 2, Danielle Calaprico scored the game's only goal in the 54th minute. The Red Stars had all their World Cup players while Sky Blue did not have any of their internationals. In the second game in Piscataway on June 28, three different Red Stars scored in a 3-0 win. Chicago has never lost to Sky Blue, winning one match and tying two others in 2014 ha

Who's hot: Red Stars striker Christen Press, the United States international, could have scored a couple of goals against Portland Sunday but was robbed at least three times, including an acrobatic save from goalkeeper Michelle Betos. She has eight goals in six games for Chicago. For Sky Blue, the tandem of Nadia Nadim and Sam Kerr are rounding into form finally. Both scored in the win over Houston.

Matchup to watch: The game will be won in the midfield. Chicago's Lori Chalupny, a World Cup veteran, runs things for the Red Stars. Katy Freels, who has had an all-star season for Sky Blue is the maestro for the New Jersey side. Whomever wins this battle in the mid will give their team the best chance for victory and three points.

What it means: The Red Stars will make the playoffs but are jockeying for position. They are 3 points out of first place and are chasing Seattle. They are also only three points ahead of Washington. For Sky Blue FC, three points would be nice but a point won't kill them. A loss might.