The Chicago Red Stars won’t bow out of the NWSL Playoff race without a fight.
“I’m a competitor, so winning is the best feeling… We can go through tactics, but at the end of the day, we wanted that win and we got it. I’m proud of this team tonight.” Game-winning goal scorer Bianca St. Georges told us after the match. The pride was echoed by Captain Alyssa Naeher “That’s old-school Chicago Red Stars… I’m proud of the fight and proud of the resiliency.”
After spending much of the season at the bottom of the league table, they’ve gone on a winning spree. They’re unbeaten since their sale was announced to Laura Ricketts’ Ownership Group.
Had the ownership limbo weighed on the team? Alyssa Naeher is inclined to agree. “I think it’s heavy when it’s just sitting in the air above you, and you don’t know what’s going on.” With the sale underway, the team focuses on the present. The Captain remains steadfast in her belief in this club. “We’ve always competed, and we’ve always put our best foot forward on the field, and that’s what I expect from the last two games.”
The Red Stars are finally clicking, and may be poised to deliver on those expectations. “It might’ve been the best that we played in possession of the ball.” Coach Chris Petrucelli said post-match. “I love feeling connected to my teammates, and that ball Julia (Bianchi) played? It felt like we were one person” Bianca St. Georges added. “It’s good to see this happening– not just me and Julia, but other people on the team. You can see connections are happening.”
Saturday’s win against Louisville pulled the Red Stars out of last place. Their 24 points on the season keeps them in striking distance of a playoff position. Their fate, though, isn’t entirely in their control. Even if they win tomorrow, a combination of wins from the teams above them in the table would be enough to knock them out of contention. The Red Stars are moving as one, and connected in a season-long struggle on and off the field. The question remains, have they found their groove in time to save their postseason hopes?
As they’ve said all season, the best they can do is focus on the next 90 minutes.
- Casey Krueger won NWSL Save of the Week for her goal line heroics late in the second half. “It’s not an easy save to make sliding toward your goal” Naeher told us “All the credit to her for making that run on a cramping hamstring.”
- Chicago plays Kansas City on Saturday at 7PM central time. Kansas City is already eliminated from postseason play, and has the opportunity to play spoiler.
- Win or bust: Chicago can only stay in contention with a win. A draw will not be enough.
- Elimination scenarios on the table (courtesy of Alison Gale):
- Chicago loss or draw.
- Reign win AND Orlando win AND Gotham win OR draw.
- Spirit win AND Orlando win AND North Carolina win AND Gotham win OR draw.