Photo by Jeff Vorva
Red Stars players Alyssa Mautz, left, and Sofia Huerta, right, hound Samantha Mewis of the Western New York Flash in Saturday’s shutout victory.
The Chicago Red Stars won their first game of 2016 thanks to a goal from Naperville’s Casey Short and an assist from Bridgeview’s Toyota Park.
Wait a minute. Toyota Park? It can’t execute a push pass or head the ball to a teammate. It’s a stadium.
Well, the way Western New York Flash coach Paul Riley explained it after the Red Stars’ 1-0 victory over his team Saturday night, the Red Stars’ new digs may have had a hand in the victory.
The Flash came in with a 1-0-0 record and knocked off defending National Women’s Soccer League champion FC Kansas City, 1-0, the previous weekend.
“We might have been a little awed by this stadium the way we played the first half,” Riley said.
So, at least for one match, the stadium paid off dividends after switching from Benedictine University to Toyota Park in the offseason.
In the seats? The Red Stars did not release an attendance figure and it would take guesswork to figure if they drew more than 1,000 so there will be work to be done, there.
But those in attendance were able to see the Red Stars (1-1-0) improve on defense drastically after giving up three goals in a 3-1 loss to Houston on April 17.
“Let’s not talk about (the Houston game),” said Red Stars coach Rory Dames. “Let’s just say they were much more organized and worked hard to fix some of the things we got wrong. I thought they were great this week.’’
Short found the bottom right corner of the net after her shot deflected off a Flash defender at the 28-minute mark for the lone goal of the game. It was her first NWSL goal in just her second game in the league. She was drafted by Boston in 2013 and acquired by the Red Stars in 2014 but never played because of two knee injuries.
The defender played in Norway in 2015 before coming back to the Red Stars.
“It felt great to finally put one in,” she said.
ORLANDO PRIDE AT CHICAGO RED STARS
WHEN: 5 p.m., Sunday.
WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview
RED STARS RECORD: 1-1-0
ORLANDO RECORD: 1-1-0
LAST TIME: This is the first meeting between the two teams as it is Orlando’s first year in the league.
Staying out of controversy
Red Stars star Christen Press is tactfully keeping her distance when commenting on five U.S. women’s team players filing a wage discrimination against U.S. Soccer in March.
Press, who played on the U.S. team that won the World Cup in 2015 and is a finalist for this year’s Olympic squad, says the suit has nothing to do with the Red Stars’ organization or the National Women’s Soccer League.
“I think it’s completely separate as far as I know,” Press said. “The coolest thing about our national team is our ability to keep all of that stuff off the field and be able to play at a high level. It’s not something we’re thinking about or talking about. We’re just doing our jobs.’’
There has been speculation that members of the U.S. team could boycott the Olympics.
“At this point, my job isn’t really to speculate what we will be doing off the field,” Press said. “My job is to perform. There is a lot of things that have to happen before I worry about boycotting the Olympics. I mean, I’m trying to make the Olympic squad and I’m trying to have a great season. I’m not thinking about that.’’
What’s her name?
The Red Stars host Orlando Saturday – a team that beat Houston, 3-1 on Saturday, one week after Houston beat the Red Stars, 3-1.
The Pride is a first-year team that is making noise early as its debut win drew a National Woman’s Soccer League record 23,403. And the play on the field isn’t bad either.
“(Coach Tim Sermanni) did a great job putting that team together – there is quality all over the field,” Re stars coach Rory Dames said. “They have a player who is up front who is dangerous. I can’t remember her name but she is dangerous.’’
He was joking about not knowing star Alex Morgan, who is an Olympic Gold Medalist and World Cup Champion.