I’ve made this point before, but the Red Stars’ turnaround from the start of the season has been remarkable. Two losses in their first three games left Chicago near the bottom of the table. Now they’ve won three in a row and are jockeying for the top spot in the NWSL table.
Laboring in extreme heat and humidity— necessitating two hydration breaks during the game— the Red Stars nonetheless stood up to arguably the best passing team in the league and nailed down a trademark 1-0 win over the Seattle Reign.
The first half was defined by three fundamental forces: Seattle’s passing game, Chicago’s defending, and the extreme heat. All three pushed against each other to create a tense but slow stalemate. The Reign would build long spells of possession, slowly building up an attack with Megan Rapinoe acting as the trebuchet in their siege campaign. The Red Stars managed to deter and deflect with some strong defending— thanks in large part to Taylor Comeau, making her first start of the season— and the kind of clutch saves we’ve come to expect from Alyssa Naeher. All the while, 90 degree heat and 50% humidity took their toll on both sets of players, with 70th Minute-level fatigue settling in around the 40th minute.
While the first half dwindled and trundled toward the end, the second half got off to a rousing start. After Seattle tried to catch their hosts off balance with a quick-fire attack, the Red Stars came roaring back with an assault of their own. They were rewarded just four minutes into the half when Sofia Huerta hit a low cross to Christen Press, who made a cool finish at the far post to make it 1-0.
Seattle made some threatening noises in the immediate aftermath of the goal but soon faded out. For a good 20 minutes it was all Red Stars— applying pressure, turning screws, getting some huge chances to increase the lead. But through a combination of bad luck and poor finishing (maybe as a product of the weather), the Red Stars couldn’t pad out their lead.
Sofia Huerta missed a huge opportunity to get on the board.
And the woodwork was simply not on our side today.
A second water break and a late push from Seattle threaten to unspool Chicago’s defense, but the home side held firm. The whistle blew at full time and confirmed the Red Stars’ third consecutive win.
The Red Stars (5W, 2L, 1D) remain in second place and two points behind league leaders North Carolina. The team gets the weekend off next week thanks to the international break. They’re back in action on June 17th at home against the Washington Spirit.