The Red Stars had a golden opportunity to secure a playoff spot last night. And they didn’t take it.
With their season in tatters and the playoffs already mathematically out of reach, FC Kansas City came to Bridgeview last night looking to spoil the party and embarrass the Red Stars on their home turf. (Again.) It was a much closer contest this time around, but KC did manage to ruin the cake once again.
The opening 20 minutes played out with the chaos and fury of a late-summer thunderstorm. After trading counter-attacks and hitting the woodwork a few times at either end, the visitors drew first blood when Heather O’Reilly sent in a cross that found Shea Groom for a tap-in. Christen Press would equalize minutes later with a beautiful curling shot. Both teams kept up the pace and aggression until just before the half-hour mark, when the game transitioned to trading corner kicks. Some promising chances at both ends, but the teams went into the tunnel at halftime at 1-1.
In the second half, fatigue and a lack of focus in the back caught up with the Red Stars and they paid for it. Frances Silva regained the lead for KC just after the hour mark thanks to a lack of pressure in the back and bad marking. Groom bagged a brace in the 77th minute with a diving header. By then, the home side were looking exhausted thanks to the shortened recovery time from last weekend and the hot and humid weather, and the writing was on the wall.
The Red Stars did mount a late rally, and pulled back to within one in the 87th when a low shot through traffic from Sofia Huerta just barely crept over the line. Becky Sauerbrunn tried to clear it and argued that it didn’t cross the line, but the referee awarded the goal regardless.
But it wasn’t enough, and the whistle blew with Chicago losing a crucial late-season match at home.
Seattle lost their game against Washington— although that wasn’t the story of the night— which means the Red Stars didn’t lose much ground in the playoff race. They travel to Kansas City on Sunday for the penultimate game of the regular season, and a draw will be enough to secure postseason soccer for the second year in a row.