CHICAGO – A new season meant new players and obstacles for the Chicago Red Stars to start the 2018 season. We take a look back
The Dreaded Injury Report
Julie Ertz, Vanessa DiBernardo, Casey Short, Stephanie McCaffrey, Rosie White and Sam Kerr missed a combined 58 games. Ertz, White and Kerr are back in form with Chicago, while DiBernardo and Short have yet to play a game after recently coming of the DL-45, but McCaffrey has been hindered to just 11 minutes after being diagnosed with a neurological disorder.
In the first four games, Chicago picked up seven points, which was a strong start to the season with a roster missing veterans.
The Ties Keep Coming
Chicago heads into the bye weekend that marks the team being halfway through the NWSL season with a record of 3-3-6.
Just as the weather was in Chicago, May was rough for the Red Stars. Three ties and two losses, both to Orlando, provided the coaching staff with improvement for the Red Stars. The last loss, a 5-2 defeat on Chicago’s home field, was the hardest hit the team had taken.
“If this one needs to get put on anybody, this one can get put on me,” said head coach Rory Dames. “We just conceded five goals at home. The players had a good week of training; they’ve been doing what we’ve asked them to do.”
The loss at home brought Dames back to restructure and get back to who Chicago is.
“We probably need to take a step back and figure out who we are,” Dames said freely. “I think we’re probably caught between thoughts because in the past we may have lost, but we definitely wouldn’t have conceded as easily as we did today.”
Heading into Break on a High
Chicago has only suffered three losses this season, falling to Orlando twice (2-0, 5-2) and narrowly being edged out by Portland (2-3). Before the shutout victory in Washington, the Red Stars went on a month-long hiatus from three points, with a 0-2-5 record.
A slight turning point was seen as Chicago battled to a draw in a 1-1 tie against front runners, North Carolina. The match was going the Red Stars way until a Courage goal in the final 10 minutes drew the equalizer. It was only the third draw for North Carolina, leading the league with 30 points.
The true turning point found the Red Stars back on track after a 2-0 victory against the Washington Spirit. This was the first three points Chicago has seen since midway through April.
The victory came off a goals by Sam Kerr and Yuki Nagasato, as rookie goalkeeper Emily Boyd saw her debut earning her first shutout.
Despite the lack of points coming into the halfway mark of the season, the Red Stars still have the second-most goals with 16. Chicago has only gained six points in the last five matches, third-best of the time frame in the league, but remains in fifth position. Six teams are all within four points of each other, as Chicago sits in the middle of it with 15 points.
The Red Stars will look to turn around the second half of the season in a three-game home series as they start with Portland Thorns on Saturday, June 16, for NWSL’s Game of the Week on ESPNEWS (7:00 p.m. CT).
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