The Chicago Red Stars took the field Sunday evening against the team now closest to them in the NWSL standings: the Orlando Pride. Throughout the match, the Red Stars played aggressively on offense. Kealia Watt and Mal Pugh especially seemed to spend all game giving the Pride defense fits. In total, the Red Stars took 14 shots to the Pride's eight attempts. Chicago also had a whopping 12 corner kicks, and seemingly each one ended in a solid opportunity to score. However, Ashlyn Harris and the Pride defense always had an answer for the Red Stars, giving Harris a clean sheet, and the Pride came away with the 2-0 victory.
How It Went Down
Early on, it seemed like the Red Stars were en route to a dominant performance. Watt was in the Pride's box several times in the first five minutes of the game. The Pride couldn't get the ball past midfield as the Red Stars kept attacking. With the Red Stars scoring three goals in two of their last three matches, it felt like a multi-goal performance was coming once more.
Then, 15 minutes in, the momentum shifted. With the Red Stars playing up and aggressive on offense, Jodie Taylor found a seam to take the ball up the field on a breakaway for the Pride. Taylor got past the defense and there wasn't much of anything Cassie Miller could do. From there on, the Pride seemed to have the ball in their possession most of the match. The Red Stars continued to have several shot opportunities, but they were thwarted each time.
The Pride were incredibly physical all match long. They were called for 12 fouls and received three yellow cards for the match. Two of the plays that resulted in yellow cards inflicted injuries upon Red Stars players. Both Morgan Gautrat and Danielle Colaprico exited the match after taking hard hits from Pride players. The penalties did not hurt the Pride in the end as the Red Stars couldn't produce any offensive results throughout the match.
In the 89th minute, Sydney Leroux broke through for the second Pride goal to put the game out of reach. Despite a close attempt by Pugh in stoppage time, the final whistle blew and the Pride took the match 2-0.
Player of the Match
The Red Stars gave the player of the match to Sarah Woldmoe, who certainly gave her full effort throughout the game. Another name in the mix has to be goalkeeper Cassie Miller. While the final score reads 2-0, Miller locked down several difficult saves throughout the match. Both Pride goals were the result of breakdowns by the Red Stars' defense.
What's On Tap Next?
The Chicago Red Stars play next against the North Carolina Courage at 5:00 CT on Sunday, August 15. The Courage sit one point above the Red Stars on the season. Chicago will have their Olympians back for the match. Tierna Davidson, Julie Ertz, Casey Krueger, and Alyssa Naeher comprise the cast of Red Stars that won Bronze medals in Tokyo. Naeher suffered a hyperextension of her right knee and a bone contusion in the semifinals, so her status is still unknown.