There’s never a point in the season, beginning or the end, where you want to say, “must win,” but with a team in search of points to earn a playoff bid, Saturday night marked a massive win for the club.
Chicago entered the game against Orlando with 31 points and in fifth-place and holding their fate in their own hands. So, you could say that Saturday night’s match was a “must win,” but Chicago showed up on the road and took a big three points in the biggest game of their season.
Orlando Pride 1-3 Chicago Red Stars
Here are the takeaways from Chicago’s 3-1 win over the Orlando Pride:
Never an Easy Opponent
Chicago entered the match on a four-game unbeaten run and needing a massive three points in Orlando. The Pride had come into Chicago’s house twice already this season and took points from the home side, so snatching away three points on the road would not be an easy defeat for the Red Stars.
However, this game the veteran team of Chicago stood their ground and immediately applied the pressure to the Pride backline. With Alyssa Mautz, Sam Kerr and Yuki Nagasato connecting up top, along with Morgan Brian, Danielle Colaprico and Vanessa DiBernardo in the middle, the five would find holes in the Pride backline to get the attack going.
The game marked the first one this season where Chicago outshot Orlando and put away their scoring opportunities.
Three Passes for a Goal
Minutes before half, Chicago would finally find one in the back of the net after Colaprico and Nagasato connected to find a running Kerr past the Orlando backline.
There is so much good in this one goal (1:55 in). Colaprico sees a moving Nagasato and Nagasato has the savvy to push it behind first time with a pressuring Orlando defender to Kerr. With Kerr left one-on-one with her defender, the international star was left to finish past a solid goalkeeper in Ashlyn Harris.
A Solid Backline
With the likes of Alex Morgan and Marta, two legends for both club and country, the task put on Arin Gilliland, Julie Ertz, Katie Naughton and Casey Short was not easy. However, with Alyssa Naeher in goal and the work of the four in the backline, the Red Stars kept Orlando to just six shots on goal, with one coming from Morgan and two from Marta. With 30 successful clearances, the backline stepped up big for the Red Stars to take three points at Orlando City Stadium.
When the full-time whistle blew, the win marked the biggest takeaway from this match.
Chicago was undefeated in the last three matches, but those matches were all one-point takeaways for the Red Stars. Three points pushed the Red Stars into fourth-place spot by themselves and it’s exactly what was needed for Chicago.