Chicago Red Stars 2 Kerr 20’, Huerta 65’
Houston Dash 2 Daly 7’, Mewis 49’
From the beginning of this season, the Hot Time in Old Town crew has been all-in on the Chicago Red Stars #scamgang persona. With every injury or absence that has marked the start of the Red Stars 2018 campaign, the need to steal points whenever possible has taken precedent over many other insignificant things, like “fielding 18 players” or “feeling good about the style of play”. But in tonight’s 2-2 draw against the Houston Dash, Chicago occasionally looked like a team waiting to flip a switch that they never ultimately touched.
On their end, Houston came into town with some harsh identity issues of their own. They started the season as anticipated basement dwellers in the standings, but they seem to have found some serious traction on the field with the return of Kealia Ohai and Kyah Simon to their roster, as well as the continued impressive play of Kristie Mewis and Rachel Daly, wherever they end up in Houston’s formation. But they also hired a new assistant coach from inside the organization today (after the unceremonial dumping of Lisa Cole a few week ago), former Dynamo player Eddie Robinson.
Robinson had a solid career as a player for Houston, winning the MLS Cup with them over a decade ago, but has no formal coaching experience, and has a public online presence that makes him look incredibly hostile towards many things, including the NWSL. To paraphrase Lindy West, a lot of maneuvering the world as a woman is realizing the things that you love might actually hate you, and it sucks that the Dash are bringing that energy in-house. I genuinely send my best to head coach Vera Pauw, and the entire Dash roster, in working with this dude in a way that leaves everyone intact.
But damn, Houston, did you have to do that to the Red Stars tonight? Rachel Daly continued her successful run of form against Chicago, striking quickly in the 7th minute of the match, and it seemed like this one was going to be a bit of a struggle. Chicago countered in the 20th with a quick giveaway to Arin Gilliland, allowing her to pop the ball over to Sam Kerr for the quick equalizer.
Houston would pull ahead again in the 49th minute off a perfectly executed set play, off a free kick outside the box that split the Red Stars wall expertly to put Kristie Mewis on goal, but again Chicago found a way to grind a matching goal off a handball in the box on Amber Brooks in the 65th minute that Sofia Huerta had no problem sending past Dash keeper Jane Campbell.
A point is obviously better than a loss, and tonight is no reason to panic, but at some point Chicago has to want to walk away from the scam life and walk in the sun a bit. This roster has the ability to control teams like Houston, and they shouldn’t be chasing the game for most of the match. The Red Stars (2-2-5) will take on the very scary Seattle Reign next on May 19th, and they have to go in believing they can win, before the season starts to get away from them.