NWSL Decision Day saw all six games kickoff at the same time. All six games had playoff implications. The Chicago Red Stars and OL Reign contributed their fair share of drama on the league’s final day of competition.
The first half featured a dramatic goal-line clearance from Arin Wright and daring runs from Alyssa Naeher to chase loose balls. Chicago survived the chaotic half to keep the score 0-0.
OL Reign came out of halftime in complete control. Megan Rapinoe scored two goals in two minutes, and Jess Fishlock added a third to put the match out of reach for the Red Stars.
Chicago’s last match of the season ended with a 3-0 loss on the scoreboard, but started with a celebration of Cheyna Matthews retirement. The news dropped during the final pre-match media availability only days before. Tatumn Milazzo spoke of Matthews’ joyous presence on the team. “Hilarious. Just like a really bright light around the team. Always has a really positive attitude around the locker room and around us all. It’s been really fun to play with her this year.”
Matthews was a spark plug for the Red Stars this season. Her presence on the field often came with a positive shift in match momentum. Her bravery on the attack caused turnovers and led to scoring opportunities, like her final NWSL goal against Angel City. She retires with 88 NWSL caps.
At full-time, fans were treated to a lap of honor from Red Stars players carrying banners reading “Thank you fans”. It ended with another celebration, this time for Arin Wright’s 150 caps with the team.
The celebration was bittersweet for Wright. “I’ve never played a season where we don’t make postseason.” When asked for her thoughts on the season, she said “For me, I feel unfulfilled by the season because I didn’t get as much out of it as I wanted.”
Season disappointments aside, she’s proud of her time as a Red Star: from its locker room in the basement at the Oak Brook Polo Grounds, to the $60 million dollar sale and investment from the Laura Ricketts ownership group. ”To be at one club, and to watch it grow into what it is now… I’m really excited to see where it is today.”
Alyssa Naeher had a front row seat to Wright’s career, and voiced her pride for her longtime teammate. “To be able to adapt with the game and grow with the game and continue to learn as you get older… not many people are willing to do that.” The Captain added “She epitomizes what it means to be a Red Star, and I’m just proud to have shared the last eight years with her.”
One thing that hasn’t changed in Arin Wright’s tenure with the Red Stars? “I do rock up right on time. I’m never early, and it stresses Alyssa out.”
Plenty of things are up in the air for Chicago next season, but rest assured, Arin Wright will show up to each game day exactly on time.