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Kerr and Nagasato star as Chicago advance to NWSL decider

Chicago: Asian stars Sam Kerr and Yuki Nagasato are 90 minutes away from becoming champions of the United States’ National Women’s Soccer League, after both played key roles in Chicago Red Stars’ 1-0 semi-final win over Portland Thorns on Sunday.

Australian striker Kerr scored Chicago’s decisive eighth-minute goal after a sublime pass from Japanese 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup winner Nagasato, continuing the seemingly telepathic understanding between the pair, who respectively lead the league for scoring and assists.

Kerr’s goal was her 19th of the NWSL season, while Nagasato’s defence-splitting assist was the ninth of the campaign for the 32-year-old, with eight of them having been converted by Kerr.

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The duo will now face North Carolina Courage in next Sunday’s final, after the defending champions scored three extra-time goals to seal 4-1 semi-final win over Reign FC.

Sunday’s win was the latest success story in a red-letter week for Kerr, who was named the inaugural NWSL Players Association Player of the Year in addition to a record third consecutive Golden Boot award on Thursday.

Kerr’s 18-goal regular season haul is a league record, a feat all the more impressive considering it came in only 21 games, with the star striker absent for a period of the season which coincided with Australia’s FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 campaign.

While Chicago’s win took Kerr and Nagasato a step closer to the title, it also signalled the end of the campaign for a trio of Australian internationals for Portland Thorns, for whom Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso made appearances, while Ellie Carpenter remained an unused substitute.

Photo: Chicago Red Stars

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