Are the Dash our bogey team? Most soccer teams have one side they just can’t seem to beat, and it seems like the Red Stars are starting to rue their meetings with them in the orange shirts.
At the end of a long, hot, and humid night, Chicago were made to pay for a lack of bite up top and a lack of focus in the back and dropped points at home against one of the worst teams in the league.
Kickoff was delayed for over an hour thanks to powerful storms that rumbled through the Chicagoland area. The sky finally cleared around 8pm and the go-ahead was given. With a decent-sized crowd in attendance for the team’s Pride Night, the Red Stars were looking for a win to establish a strong table position before the Olympic break.
The Red Stars caught some good luck early in the game when a corner kick found Dany Colaprico, who one-timed it towards goal and got a lucky deflection to send it home. The home side grabbed a 1-0 lead after less than two minutes.
Apart from a couple chances here and there, the rest of the first half was all Chicago. The home side dominated possession and constantly looked to threaten goal. Vanessa DiBernardo had several near-goals throughout the game, two or three hitting the woodwork and one cleared off the line. Yet the Red Stars went into halftime with just the one goal.
This seemed doable. Chicago has made scrappy 1-0 wins into their Thing. And when Chicago continued to control play through much of the second half, it wasn’t unreasonable to think they’d work their magic again tonight.
Alas, no. Rachel Daly was given space and time near the penalty spot and, having received the ball from a low cross on the left, made a quick turn-and-shoot in the 82nd minute. Michele Dalton, who had been pretty solid most of the night, dived the wrong way and the ball trickled inside the near post.
The Red Stars pushed hard for another go-ahead goal but the Dash did just enough to knock them back. Not even Steph McCaffrey, in her first appearance in a Red Stars shirt after being traded here from Boston in midweek, could right the ship. As more storms threatened to intrude, the final whistle blew after 94 minutes and Chicago dropped some crucial points at home.
The result kicks the Red Stars out of the Top 4, level on points and goal difference with Sky Blue but behind on goals scored. Chicago are back at home next Sunday when they host Kansas City, their last game before the month-long break for the Olympics.