NWSL Regular Season - MATCH 5

APR 29
7:00pm CST
SeatGeek Stadium
Chicago Red Stars
Washington Spirit
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The U, Paramount+
Previous Result
CHI: Chicago lost to OL Reign 5-2
WASWashington tied 0-0 against Houston Dash


Team Effort
For the second weekend in a row, the Red Stars found offense in unexpected places. To open the scoring for the Red Stars, Arin Wright, who has played as a defender for the majority of her Red Stars career, found a loose ball in OL Reign’s 18-yard box and slotted the ball into the upper ninety. This marked Wright’s first regular-season goal since August 2019 against OL Reign. At the start of the second half the Red Stars received another inspiring goal, this time from rookie Ally Schlegel. The rookie muscled Emily Sonnett off the ball and curled a shot past the keeper into the lower ninety. Schlegel is the second rookie to score in her debut this season, and only the fourth rookie to score at all, joining her Red Stars and college teammate, Penelope Hocking, who scored last week for the club.
Dynamic Duo
With all the action happening on either end of the pitch, it’s easy to overlook the gritty effort put in by midfielders across the entire pitch. This season Yuki Nagasato and Cari Roccaro have been crucial to the Red Stars midfield, stepping up to recover balls on defense, distributing balls to the wingers or forwards to push the attack and providing a veteran leadership to a young roster that starts with their calm and collected approach to the game. Both Nagasato and Roccaro have been in the top five of Red Stars players with completed passes in four of the five matches so far this season. Yuki is consistently in the top five of chances created, despite dropping back to play a defensive midfielder position this year. Roccaro has hounded forwards in the five matches, ranking in the top five Red Stars with the most recoveries in every match. As the team evaluates its approach to the rest of the season, you can bet that the experience and thankless work of Yuki and Cari will play a crucial role in opening up the game for the players around them.
Ella’s Evolution
Ella Stevens was drafted by the Red Stars in 2020 with the sixth pick in the third round. Between the Challenge Cup in 2020 and 2021, and the 2021 season, Stevens played eight total matches with one start for the club. Last year the forward played 25 total matches between the Challenge Cup, Regular Season and quarter-finals match, including 12 starts. This year, Stevens has started every match for the Red Stars and has made a case for continued minutes with each of her performances. In this young season, Ella only has one goal and one assist (both against Kansas City in week 4), but the forward has shown her value in every match, creating chances, dribbling herself into space to deliver crosses to her teammates and creating pressure on defenders that force turnovers. As the forward continues to see minutes and grow, Stevens will be a player to keep on your radar to see what else she can bring to the team as the season moves forward.