The Red Stars needed a win tonight to turn the page on last week’s disappointing draw at home and head into their month-long furlough on a high note. They just about managed it, thanks to a debut goal from Stephanie McCaffrey.
The result also made a happy set-up for the post-game festivities as the Red Stars retired former captain Lori Chalupny’s number. Her #17 jersey is the club’s first retired number and it’s no less than the skipper deserves.
Despite a few good looks and some great runs from our fullbacks, Kansas City more or less controlled the first half. Their game plan mostly centered on long balls sent up to Tiffany McCarty, which the Red Stars didn’t seem to have an answer for. Chicago’s scoring opportunities came largely thanks to Cara Walls, who made herself a persistent heading threat in the six yard box. Both teams went into the tunnel without a goal, with Kansas City benefiting from decent defending and Chicago catching better luck.
The Red Stars came out for Act II with more purpose, striking hard and fast at KC’s back line. Some early counterattacking play caught the visitors off-guard.
Chicago didn’t have to wait too long for a breakthrough. In the 53th minute, Huerta forced back-to-back saves and Steph McCaffrey stepped in to finish the play off with a close-range tap-in. It was McCaffrey’s first goal of 2016 and her first as a Red Star.
It gave Chicago a bit of a convention bounce but, slowly but surely, Kansas City started working their way back into the game. The Red Stars defended better— funny what a bit of confidence can do— but it was still a fairly even contest late into the game.
The latter minutes saw some furious counterpunching at both ends, with some solid chances for either side just barely coming up short. In the end, Chicago managed to hang on for a trademark scrappy 1-0 win.
The win gives the Red Stars a nice little bounce heading into the Olympics break. The race for the playoffs begins in earnest on August 27th when they head east to take on Sky Blue.