Rivals united: Kerr and Nagasato team up for Red Stars
After losing a fourth consecutive National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Semi-Final last year, Chicago Red Stars will be desperate to take that next step in 2019.
Helping them in that pursuit are two of the most talented players to grace the Westfield W-League with Australian superstar Sam Kerr and Japanese international Yuki Nagasato set to line-up once again for the team from the Windy City.
But how did they go during the 2018/19 Season on these shores? Read on to find out!
Westfield W-League foes, NWSL friends
Names: Sam Kerr and Yuki Nagasato
Westfield W-League clubs: Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar
NWSL club: Chicago Red Stars
Weren’t they just rivals playing for two of the Westfield W-League top four clubs?
They sure were! Both attacking players and both international stars, Kerr and Nagasato both turned out for clubs in the Westfield W-League. Kerr returned to Perth Glory as the league's first-ever marquee player while Japanese veteran Nagasato's arrival was a huge coup for Brisbane Roar.
So, what's changed?
Not too much given they were both in the Windy City last year. Once again the prospect of Kerr teaming up with Nagasato is an exciting one. Kerr is coming off consecutive NWSL Golden Boots and Nagasato's creative brilliance has the very real possibility to help make that a hat-trick.
Did Kerr and Nagasato face off?
Unsurprisingly given the staggering distance between Perth and Brisbane, the sides only met once last season and that was in Round 1.
Unfortunately for fans, both superstars were unavailable for the opener with Kerr serving a backdated suspension for yellow card accumulation and Nagasato not ready for selection.
How did Kerr fare?
Returning to your hometown with the pressure of being the Westfield W-League's first marquee may have been too much for some...but not Westfield Matildas skipper Kerr.
She netted 17 goals in 13 games and was simply unplayable at times.
Unfortunately for Perth, they struggled in other areas of the pitch and - as a result - just scraped into the top four.
It set up a tough away trip to face Premiers Melbourne Victory in the semi-final, a day Kerr won't forget in a hurry.
What happened in the semi-final?
It didn't start so well initially with Victory scoring in just the second minute of play.
But Kerr and Glory finally got going in the 72nd minute with the equaliser before both sides traded goals to end regular time all square.
Kerr then went all-out, netting a stunning double in the space of 10 minutes to bring up a hat-trick and haul her team into the Grand Final.
And Nagasato in her debut year Down Under?
The Japanese international arrived in Brisbane with a fine CV having played for the likes of Chelsea, Frankfurt and - of course - Chicago.
Despite not making her Roar debut until Round 3, Nagasato would go on to enjoy a fine campaign in orange, playing 11 games for a return of four goals.
We know Kerr's history stateside but what about Nagasato?
With the Westfield W-League taking place at the same time as the European leagues, it's quite common for Australians to head for the NWSL in their extended off-season.
Nagasat, however, moved from her homeland to Europe and as such didn't appear in the North American competition until 2017 when she joined Red Stars.
She's stayed there ever since, first partnering with Kerr when the Australian moved from Sky Blue FC last year.
What do their histories tell us about Chicago's hopes for 2019?
Put simply, if Kerr is operating at even half-capacity then Chicago are going to score goals.
If Nagasato can replicate her form in the number 10 role then it could be the making of the NWSL's deadliest partnership.
That partnership will be crucial to any hopes the Red Stars have of breaking their barren run in post-season action.