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Houston Dash 1, Chicago Red Stars 2: What We Learned

Chicago gets a win on the road and rises to the top of the table

Shaina Benhiyoun Photography

The Chicago Red Stars beat Houston Dash on Sunday to earn themselves their first road win of the season and are sitting in first place in the league. While it’s far too early to be concerned with NWSL standings, there’s something that feels entirely bad-ass about being on top of the table with the first six weeks settled and the World Cup break currently ahead of us.

This was Chicago’s final match with their star striker in Sam Kerr, and her final pre-world cup performance didn’t disappoint. A pair of goals from Kerr, with assists from Vasconcelos and DiBernardo, the Red Stars recent win gave us lots to watch.

Here’s some things we learned.

Getting in Formation

As so much of the first half of 2018 showed us, Chicago’s roster is no stranger to making adjustments. Before they closed out the first quarter of this current season, the Red Stars monitored minutes for Morgan Brian and Vanessa DiBernardo, and said eventual early World Cup goodbyes to U.S. Internationals Alyssa Naeher, Julie Ertz, Tierna Davidson, and Brian.

They most recently had to plan for a red card suspension to Katie Johnson, and suffered an unexpected loss when long time veteran Alyssa Mautz suffered a season ending ACL injury.

They adjusted for Utah, and unfortunately fell in the 84th minute. Re-adjusted for North Carolina, and won. Adjusted again for Houston, and won again.

From Vasconcelos earning starts after having such immediate impacts off the bench, to Nikki Stanton sliding into the midfield providing the grind and grunge, including a confident Rookie debut from Maria Sanchez - have all been some examples of Chicago's reliable depth.

As the next few weeks approach, we might see the Red Stars stay in a 4-3-3, or they might not. Either way, they are looking like a team with the kind of personnel that can adjust if need be.

Ok But This Goal, WOW

DiBernardo is back playing full match minutes, and her efforts throughout the match were beyond noticeable.

When she was able to help navigate the mid, the Red Stars were vicious. When she saw less time on the ball, they looked like less of a threat. The give-and-go between her on and Kerr on this goal looked effortless.

It was a five touch sequence initiated by Dibernardo that occured before she connected with Kerr for the second goal of the game, which would ultimately be the game winner.

This match marked 100 caps for DiBernardo as a Red Star, here’s hoping for more of these moments from Chicago’s captain.

The Red Stars are back in Bridgeview on Sunday, May 26, against Washington Spirit.