Groom bags brace as visitors spoil the party at Toyota Park

By Gunnar Berndt

Chicago, Ill. – The Chicago Red missed out on punching their National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) playoff ticket early on Wednesday evening, courtesy of a 3-2 home defeat to visiting Midwest rivals and defending champs FC Kansas City. While Chicago’s Christen Press and Sofia Huerta continued their outstanding runs of form with goals before the break and late in the second half, respectively, it wasn’t enough to overcome a brace by FCKC striker Shea Groom and an additional strike by teammate Frances Silva.

The Red Stars hit the post twice in the opening stages of the match, with the first agonizing miss coming off the foot of Casey Short from inside the area. Worse yet, the visitors struck at the other end on the immediate counter-attack, as long-time U.S. regular Heather O’Reilly sprinted down the left before centering low to Groom from the by-line, her 23-year-old attacking partner stabbing the ball into the roof of the net from close range. Moments later, Chicago’s Press came within inches of equalizing when her first-time effort from the right side of the box smashed off the far post.

California native Press would not be discouraged by her bad luck on the play, and she was rewarded for taking aim once more in the 13th minute, with midfielder Taylor Comeau bagging her first assist of the year. After receiving the ball from Comeau in tight space, Press cut to her right and used a defender as a shield as she sent a beautiful curling effort inside the right post to leave goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart without a chance.

The home side continued to create more quality chances in the second half, Sofia Huerta nearly capitalizing on one of them just after the hour mark. The Idaho native was released right of center by U.S. ace Stephanie McCaffrey and exploded into the box, only to see her wicked effort toward the left post whistle narrowly wide.

Instead of Chicago converting its attacking edge into an edge on the score sheet, it would again be FCKC punishing their opponents for a missed opportunity. Moments after Huerta’s look, Tiffany McCarty took full advantage of a lack of defensive pressure when she swung in a cross from the right flank that was tapped home at the doorstep by an unmarked Silva.

Things went farther south for the hosts 15 minutes later, as O’Reilly whipped in a ball from the left that was nodded back across at the near post by Caroline Kastor, Groom completing her brace with a determined diving header from close range that snuck by the hands of netminder Alyssa Naeher and inside the right post.

Chicago pulled one back in the 87th minute of the match. Danielle Colaprico sent a hopeful ball into the penalty area that was kept alive by Arin Gilliland and fell to red-hot attacker Huerta near the left post. Sending a low drive past the onrushing Barnhart, the second-year professional saw her attempt cleared by Becky Sauerbrunn, but it was judged to have crossed the line prior to the center back’s last-ditch effort. Huerta came close to leveling the score moments later, as she received the ball from Vanessa DiBernardo on the left side of the box and blasted a thunderous shot just over the frame.

The Chicago Red Stars look to book their trip to the NWSL postseason with a draw or win in this coming Sunday’s rematch with the defending champs at Kansas City’s Swope Soccer Village. Head Coach Rory Dames’ squad then returns home for its big regular season finale against league-leading Washington Spirit on Saturday, September 24. Tickets to all Red Stars home games at Toyota Park in Bridgeview may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 773-697-8699.

NWSL Match Report
Match: Chicago Red Stars vs. FC Kansas City 2-3
Date: September 7, 2016
Venue: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT)
Attendance: 2,068

Scoring Summary:

1 2 T
CHI 1 1 2
FCKC 1 2 3

FCKC – Shea Groom 7’ (Heather O’Reilly)
CHI – Christen Press 13’ (Taylor Comeau)
FCKC – Frances Silva 62’ (Tiffany McCarty)
FCKC – Shea Groom 77’ (Caroline Kastor)
CHI – Sofia Huerta 87’ (Arin Gilliland)

Lineups:

CHI: 1-Alyssa Naeher Goalkeeper; 3-Arin Gilliland Right Back, 8-Julie Johnston Center Back, 16-Samantha Johnson Center Back (5-Katie Naughton Substitute 56’), 6-Casey Short Left Back (14-Sarah Gorden Substitute 80’); 11-Sofia Huerta Right Midfielder, 7-Taylor Comeau (13-Amanda DaCosta Substitute 46’), 24-Danielle Colaprico Midfielder, 10-Vanessa DiBernardo Left Midfielder; 23-Christen Press Forward, 9-Stephanie McCaffrey Forward
Subs not used: 18-Michele Dalton Goalkeeper, 4-Alyssa Mautz Substitute, 15-Courtney Raetzman Substitute, 12-Cara Walls Substitute
Head Coach: Rory Dames

FCKC: 18-Nicole Barnhart Goalkeeper; 13-Brittany Taylor Right Back, 10-Yael Averbuch Center Back, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn Center Back (capt.), 21-Katie Bowen Left Back; 20-Tiffany McCarty Right Midfielder (1-Lo’eau LaBonta Substitute 74’), 3-Desiree Scott Midfielder, 9-Heather O’Reilly Midfielder (5-Alex Arlitt Substitute 91+), 7-Mandy Laddish Midfielder, 11-Frances Silva Left Midfielder (23-Caroline Kastor Substitute 65’); 2-Shea Groom Forward
Subs not used: 19-Cat Parkhill Goalkeeper, 22-Brianne Reed Substitute
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski

Stats Summary: CHI / FCKC
Shots: 12 / 8
Shots on Goal: 5 / 5
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 7 / 2
Fouls: 6 / 6
Offside: 2 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
CHI – Julie Johnston (yellow card; defensive handling) 93+

Officials:
Referee: Farhad Dadkho
Assistant Referee 1: Artyom Arustamyan
Assistant Referee 2: T.J. Zablocki
Fourth Official: Becky Pagan
Fifth Official: Dennis Engers

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