The Chicago Red Stars finally won a game in 2021, beating Kansas City in front of over 5,000 fans at Field of Legends. Second-half goals by Kealia Watt and Makenzy Doniak were the difference as the Red Stars thoroughly deserved the win. It was the team's first win since the NWSL Fall Series back in October of last year.
Massive First Win of Season
After not winning any Challenge Cup or regular-season matches this calendar year, the Red Stars were desperate for three points. However, the Red Stars would have to do it without Julie Ertz, who is still out with a knee injury.
Without Ertz's presence in front of the back line, Chicago inverted their midfield pyramid, resulting in an extra player in the defensive midfield. Morgan Gautrat and Sarah Woldmoe filled those positions admirably in absence of Ertz.
However, set piece defending was an early issue for the Red Stars as Kansas City had six corners in the first half alone. Alyssa Naeher had to make some key saves to keep her team in the match. The Red Stars were not without their own chances, however, as Doniak hit the post from a nearly impossible angle.
It was an exciting and even first half with neither team able to put the ball into the net, but the second half saw a dominating performance by the Red Stars.
While Chicago dominated possession (56%) and shots on target (8 to 3), it was not until the substitutes came on that the Red Stars finally got the goal they deserved. Kealia Watt gave the Red Stars their first goal of the regular season and what a goal it was:
While Doniak scored the second goal, it was Mal Pugh who was instrumental in creating the goal. The sub, who had come on the pitch just minutes earlier, took advantage of a poor Kansas City pass. Doniak passed the ball to Pugh, who then repaid Doniak by putting the ball on a silver platter:
Kansas City posed very little threat to goal in the second half and did not find themselves remotely close to coming back in this one. The Red Stars were going to take all three points back home to Chicago.
What's On Tap Next?
The Red Stars remain on the road as they head back to Houston to take on the Dash. The two sides met in the first NWSL Challenge Cup of the season, with the match resulting in a scoreless tie.
That was the site of Sarah Gorden's alleged racial profiling incident by a stadium security guard. The NWSL found no wrongdoing in the matter and closed its investigation last month.
Kickoff will be on Saturday May 29 at 6:30 PM CT. You can watch the match on CBS Sports Network.