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You Give Love A Bad Reign: Chicago Red Stars 1, Seattle Reign 2, NWSL game recap

Chicago hit with a 1-2 gut punch in stoppage time to drop their second home game in a row

Photo via Chicago Red Stars

Chicago Red Stars 1 Hoy 23’

Seattle Reign 2 Kawasumi 90’, Johnson 90+2’

Rory Dames gets a lot of stick— mostly, but not entirely, undeserved— for not changing his teams very much from week to week. He has his Best XI in mind from Week 1 and, barring injuries or international commitments, that’s who he goes with. Usually it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But the static nature of his teams is one of the key disagreements fans and pundits have with him.

But I think that ignores another quirk with Dames’ management style— that when he does change things up, some of those decisions are baffling.

Like tonight’s teamsheet, released just 20 minutes before kickoff. Michelle Dalton in goal. A central defensive pairing of Casey Short and Julie Ertz. Dani Colaprico starting, despite her injury on Saturday. Katie Naughton on the bench. Sam Johnson not even in the 18.

At the risk of invoking an overused meme:

I mean, look. It’s a midweek game. These are always kinda weird.

Anyway, Dames’ gamble ended up not paying off, as the Red Stars coughed up two late goals to drop all three points right at the death. Tonight’s 2-1 loss makes for two home losses in a row, a shocking development after making Toyota Park a fortress for so long

Chicago made the, uh, interesting decision to start the game in Siege Mode. Given the makeshift backline, I’m not sure if I would’ve made the same choice, but here we are. Seattle came out to fight, and all things being equal they probably should’ve grabbed a lead. Alas, all their best efforts petered out at the last, undone by bad final balls or scrabbled away by the back line or smothered by Dalton.

While the Red Stars had fewer chances, they managed to capitalize on theirs. In the 23rd minute, Taylor Comeau sent in a beautiful diagonal cross, escaping Haley Kopmeyer’s grasp and finding Jen Hoy at the far post. Hoy headed it in and gave Chicago a 1-0 lead.

Chicago would hold on to that advantage through the first half. No small task, given Seattle’s relentlessness— Jess Fishlock nearly bagged an equalizer not too long after Hoy’s goal— and the Red Stars’ occasional miscommunication. If it’s one thing this team knows how to do, it’s not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

I’ve learned to do exactly that with this team. The Red Stars would win and I tried to not mind the how behind those wins all too much.

I can’t do that now.

Because this makeshift backline couldn’t actually get the job done. Not for the full length of the game, anyway.

Right as the clock ticked on to 90 minutes, Nahomi Kawasumi did this.

And two minutes later, Katlyn Johnson did this.

I’m loathe to be too hard on this team, and especially tonight’s defensive bank. But they had a clear job tonight, and they stumbled right at the last. And now the Red Stars’ season is in serious jeopardy.

If you know— really, actually know— how to fix all this, you’re a smarter gal than I.

The Chicago Red Stars (8W 5D 5L, 29pts, 3rd place) will try, somehow, to get back on track this Sunday when they host FC Kansas City.