The Chicago Red Stars welcomed fans back to SeatGeek Stadium for the first time in over a year as the NJ/NY Gotham FC visited for a Saturday night match. It was a sight for sore eyes to see fans in the stadium, and there was noticeable excitement among the fans. The excitement was needed, too. The Red Stars began their season with a brutal 5-0 loss against the Portland Thorns and needed to shore up their defense for their home opener.
Chicago accomplished this as NJ/NY only had seven shot attempts and zero shots on target.
Instead of a faulty defense, it was the inability to get a shot into the opposing net that led to the draw Saturday. It wasn't for a lack of trying. The Red Stars had a whopping 13 shot attempts and 5 shots on target. Kailen Sheridan just wouldn't let any of them by.
Still, the Red Stars had a number of great opportunities, and their aggressive offense is a good sign moving forward. Chicago constantly attacked NJ/NY, keeping Gotham FC on the defensive. Moreover, NJ/NY struggled to get much of anything going against the Red Stars. While the Gotham FC had possession for 59% of the match, much of that took place on their own side of the pitch.
Most of the Red Stars players played the entirety of the match. The lone substitution came 82 minutes into the game when Katie Johnson came in for Rachel Hill.
Player of the Match
While there were highlights from Kealia Watt, Sarah Gorden, and Alyssa Naeher, the player of the match has to go to forward Mal Pugh. The 23-year-old played the entire match and never took her foot off the gas. Pugh also provided some of the closest opportunities the Red Stars had to score.
At the 33-minute mark, Pugh took the ball 60 yards or so on her own. She got a shot off that just went over the bar. At 38 minutes, Pugh had another shot with her weak foot that unfortunately found Sheridan. Pugh actually got the ball in the net at the 50-minute mark, but she was called for a penalty before the shot.
Perhaps her most impressive feat was at 76 minutes, when she had a beautifully executed cross that would have found the net with any touch from a Red Stars player. Unfortunately, it went all the way across the field untouched.
What's On Tap Next?
The Red Stars picked up a point in their draw against NJ/NY. After two matches played, that has them in 9th place in the NWSL. They play next at Kansas City on Wednesday, May 26 at 7:00 PM CDT. Kansas City is currently in 7th place. They played Racing Louisville to a draw in their first match and play their second on Sunday, May 23 against the Houston Dash. Hopefully, Pugh, Watt, and company keep their feet on the gas and hopefully find the net this time around.