Good teams can have bad times. We all know this. Sometimes that rough patches last a few minutes and sometimes they can stretch on for months. In soccer, the length of the down period doesn’t necessarily have bearing on the consequences that follow.
The North Carolina Courage are a good team. They’re at the top of the NWSL table for a reason. When you have a squad made up mostly of the defending champions, good stuff is going to happen for you.
But the Courage had 15 bad minutes. Just 15. Between the 30th and the 45th minute all their strength and resilience was turned against them. Three goals in those 15 minutes broke what would’ve otherwise been a decent day for them.
The Chicago Red Stars are also a good team, but their down period has been more drown out. With only two wins in their first five games, Chicago have been playing well below their level, and the table has thusfar punished them for it. Even today, they didn’t play particularly well. The second half, in particular, was difficult for them to manage. They certainly didn’t look like the team that could potentially win this game.
Except for those 15 minutes.
30th minute. Christen Press made a pounding run into the box and, in attempting to snuff out the play, Courage goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo tripped the Chicago attacker and conceded a penalty. Press converted it— something that wouldn’t have been too surprising a year or too ago.
37th minute. Press fed a ball to Sofia Huerta, who made mincemeat of her defender before curling a shot in at the far post to double the lead.
45th minute. Vanessa DiBernardo got on the end of a chipped ball into the box from Alyssa Mautz and squeezed it past D’Angelo.
Even at 3-0 down, North Carolina were never really out of it. And their goal early in the second half courtesy of Lynn Williams provided enough of a push that Courage fans could imagine a comeback and not be completely out of turn.
But the Courage couldn’t overcome those bad 15 minutes.
15 minutes. That’s all it took for one good team to have a bad day. And for another team to possibly turn things around.
The Red Stars (3W 1D 2L) are back in the playoff spots, claiming third place in a tough early race in the top half of the NWSL table. They’ll try to make it two in a row next week at home in a rematch against the Courage.