It’s been a long time coming but the Chicago Red Stars went and got themselves a win! Sam Kerr made her return to Chicago after Australia’s World Cup journey came to an end in the round or 16, and the Red Stars won on the road against Orlando pride, 2-3. There was a hat-trick, some solid defensive performances, and even some errors.
Here’s a look at what we learned from the match.
Back To Basics
This is the second match in a row where the Red Stars have reverted back in their tired - but true, 4-4-2. Last week against Reign FC, Savannah McCaskill and Katie Johnson got the start up top. For this match Kerr and Michele Vasconcelos were paired together. With the result of the match checking two boxes off their to-do list - goals, and a win - this is still a difficult game to gage whether or not the Red Stars will revert and stay into their 4-4-2.
Orlando Pride didn’t help themselves during this match with their lack of possession and poor passing, and yet Chicago also didn’t play enough into that exact advantage that they held during the game. With the biggest example probably being of the lenient play from being pressured on the ball combined with a heavy touch of an error on Emily Boyd that eventually lead to the early equalizer.
Despite the moments of offense the formation was able to produce, much of it was purely because of Sam Kerr’s ability to simply be great. Assists by Nagasato and Vasconcelos, with a bit of disjointedness mixed in between the lines from others. While making some adjustments in an effort to get results is always a good thing, is it enough for the Red Stars moving forward.
Defending Casey Short
Casey Short had a great game this match to go along with a bunch of other great games she’s had this season. This match might have been a particular revelation to some as Short had a dominant showing on the flank during the first half of this match helping to defend but also create an attack for the offense. It was the making of potentially special game day offensively for the outside back, but Short was eventually moved to play centerback in this game.
A halftime substitution for Katie Naughton forced the Red Stars to shuffle the backline which brought Brooke Elby on and shifted Short into the centerback position. The ground she covered this match was probably more than has been asked of her, as she ended the match having gone a full 90 minutes, 2 shots on target, and a 77% passer rating.
Sam Kerr Is Not From This World
Kerr’s early exit from the World Cup was rightly heartbreaking and disappointing for many, but probably more so for the Matildas captain herself. Rory Dames, in post game comments after the loss to Reign FC, said that he told his striker to take her time in getting back to the club.
Her quickSreturn to Chicago, much less the starting lineup, was a welcomed one. As it’s no secret the Red Stars struggled with scoring while their star striker was away on international duty. Her ability to be everywhere on the pitch against Orlando was unsurprising, and scoring the opening goal was even less surprising.
Coming back to the states to compete with your club team is one thing. Scoring seven minutes into the match and then to go on and score a hat-trick? Is some kind of infinite blessing we are still asking ourselves what we did that was deemed so worthy to witness these performances.
Sam Kerr left to compete in the World Cup as the top goal scorer this season, only to return and extend her golden boot season, and there are still 14 matches to play this season.