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Going Through Hell? Just Keep Going: North Carolina Courage 1, Chicago Red Stars 1, NWSL game recap

It looks so bad, but it feels so good

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Red Stars

North Carolina Courage 1 Zerboni 82’

Chicago Red Stars 1 Kerr 37’

The Chicago Red Stars are hurting, y’all. A lot has been said so far about their injuries from the very beginning of the season, but the recovery has been slow, and they’ve had a tough run when it comes to the early schedule (3rd game this week, 6 games in 22 days). So one could be forgiven when looking at the lineup they brought forward against the league leading North Carolina Courage and thinking that this match might not even be all that close.

However, despite the long odds, the quality and grit of this Chicago team showed throughout the match, going up 1-0 off Sam Kerr’s first strike as a Red Star in the 37th minute, and ultimately holding the Courage to a 1-1 draw, walking away with a well-earned point.

Chicago keeper Alyssa Naeher had a monumental game today, notching a whopping 12 saves on 42 shots, 15 of which were on goal. She was in her ultimate element, stopping shots with grace and athleticism, and if she wasn’t always making the exact right choices coming off her line she made up in those scenarios with quality footwork. Sarah Gorden also had a quality match, keeping up with North Carolina’s Lynn Williams for much of the game.

Essentially, Chicago worked towards spending the first half of the match holding everything together against the shot-happy Courage, and tried to steal a goal on the quick counter. They eventually succeeded in the 37th minute, when a quality ball from Alyssa Mautz found its way to Kerr, who made something out of nothing (hopefully for the first time of many for Chicago) and slipped the ball past North Carolina keeper Sabrina D’angelo far post to scam the Red Stars up a goal going into the end of the half.

With some early second-half subs, Chicago was able to lock into a strong defensive formation to hold the lead, but Sofia Huerta had a few touchy moments in defense (she’s so much stronger up top), and the Courage were able to level the match in the 82nd minute off a corner kick that found its way to Zerboni, who chipped the ball in close-range to even the game up.

After the NC equalizer, it seemed like Chicago was happy to lock the game down and walk away with the point. Kerr had one more quality look on goal in the second half that couldn’t quite chip its way on frame, and Michelle Vasconcelos has a justifiable gripe about a non-call against Jaelene Hinkle in the 61st minute that should have at the very least been an indirect kick at the top of the box for Chicago.

Regardless, Chicago pulled a fast one today, and showed resolve that they didn’t quite have during the midweek. It’s frustrating to watch a talented squad struggle with such a choppy set of circumstances, but the character of this game had the quality that shows why its so fun to root for this team. Chicago’s got the Houston Dash next, on May 12th at Toyota Park.