The Chicago Red Stars put four goals past league leaders Kansas City Current in an emphatic win on Wednesday night. Going into the match, the Kansas City Current had gone 13 games unbeaten, with their last loss coming at the end of May. Not only were the Red Stars able to put an end to the Current’s incredible unbeaten run (the second longest in NWSL history), but they were also the first team to shut out the Current since that last loss.
Chicago looked dangerous from the first whistle. Danielle Colaprico’s long-range effort in the 4th minute nearly opened the scoring as she forced a great save out of Kansas City keeper Cassie Miller on her return to Chicago after being traded this past offseason. Miller’s save forced the ball over the goal and out for a corner kick. From the resulting set-piece, Mallory Pugh put in a dangerous in-swinging ball, which was unsuccessfully cleared by the Current’s defense. Center-back, Tatumn Milazzo, pounced on the loose ball inside the six-yard box and stabbed the ball into the back of the net to give Chicago the lead inside the opening five minutes.
Chicago continued to press on to try and double their advantage, and the second breakthrough of the night came in the 8th minute of play. Picking the ball up seventy yards out from the goal, Mal Pugh made an incredible individual run. Pugh ran through the entirety of the Current’s midfield and defense and then finally past Cassie Miller in goal to put away Chicago’s second of the night. A truly phenomenal goal from Chicago’s number nine.
Chicago nearly went up by three goals on the stroke of half-time when wingback, Bianca St-Georges, was presented with a golden chance. Rachel Hill’s low cross was misplayed by Current defender Taylor Leach. Leach missing the cross left St-Georges all alone in the box, but even with time and space, St-Georges squandered the chance as she fired the shot right at Miller, who comfortably tipped the ball over the crossbar.
The opening fifteen minutes of the second half were quiet, up until another moment of individual magic by Mal Pugh. In the 60th minute, Pugh picked up a loose ball at midfield. With another driving run, Pugh ran at the Current defense before scoring from eighteen yards out.
The Current never looked threatening going forward and most certainly unconvincing in defense. They would concede their second goal from a set-piece in the 72nd minute. Mallory Pugh was involved in her fourth goal of the night when she put in a dangerous out-swinging ball. Defender Amanda Kowalski was unmarked at the back post and connected with Pugh’s cross to head home Chicago’s fourth goal of the night.
A strong defensive performance from the Red Stars prevented the Current from producing a single clear-cut chance in the 90 minutes and earned Chicago the clean sheet.
A dominant showing in which the Red Stars ran riot against the league leaders shows that Chicago is a serious contender for this year’s playoffs. Now sitting in fifth place, the Red Stars are just two points off the top of the table and could even challenge for the top two spots in the league, which would grant the Red Stars a first-round playoff bye.
The Red Stars seem to be finding some great form as we approach the playoffs, and with Mallory Pugh firing on all cylinders, the Red Stars have the potential to beat any team in the NWSL.