Despite Rory Dames’ efforts before and during the 2015 season to keep the team together- and winning- while more than a third of the squad was away at the Women’s World Cup, the club no doubt looked forward to their delegation to Canada coming back and getting fit. This weekend, we understood why.
Saturday’s sell-out (!!!) crowd at the Benedictine University Sports Complex in Lisle welcomed home the eight Red Stars players (four of them from the world champion United States national team) with a rousing ovation. The supporters then got to cheer on four of those returning warriors - captain Lori Chalupny and Karina LeBlanc in the starting XI, Shannon Boxx and Adriana Leon making substitute appearances - as Chicago took on the struggling Boston Breakers.
With the Breakers still within striking distance of a playoff spot as the season enters its third act, they were in a somewhat desperate position as they needed to halt a three game losing streak and start getting points from somewhere. Anywhere. Even the league leaders, if necessary.
After a first half with lots of back-and-forth (sparked by an early chance from CRS forward Jen Hoy), the front-runners looked to give the over-flowing home crowd another solid win after the skipper found the back of the net in the 54th minute. But the victory tour veered off course eight minutes later when Boston’s Stephanie McCaffrey equalized. Despite a hard push forward following McCaffrey’s goal, the Red Stars couldn’t find a gamewinner as they did against Houston the weekend before. The whistle blew with the score stuck at 1-1, letting Boston walk away with a point that nudged them off the floor of the NWSL standings.
While the Red Stars dropped points at home, Seattle’s 3-0 loss against Washington over the weekend ensured that Chicago would sit alone atop the table, one point ahead of the Reign with a game in hand. CRS is back at it on Wednesday when they travel to Boston for a rematch, and again on Saturday when they travel to DC to take on the Spirit. Their next home match is a doozy as they’re set to host the defending champions FC Kansas City in a game with massive playoff implications.