BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - The Chicago Red Stars are in last place in Women’s Professional Soccer. And coach Emma Hayes was pretty dramatic with her starting lineup choices.
On the bench: Brazilian forward Cristiane, midfielder Megan Rapinoe and midfielder Carli Lloyd.
Despite the significant shakeup, the bounces (and perhaps an offside or non-hand ball call) didn’t go Chicago’s way as the Boston Breakers defeated the Red Stars, 2-0, on Sunday at Toyota Park. Chicago dropped its second straight and fourth straight at home. The team’s last win - a 4-0 rout of the Breakers on April 25.
“I’m delighted that we went out with the right mentality, which I wasn’t surprised because the last time we were here we were totally embarrassed,” Breakers head coach Tony DiCicco said. “Chicago probably deserved more, but we’ve been on that side of the games, as well.”
Boston’s Amy Rodriguez tallied the game’s first goal - and her first goal of the season - in the 22nd minute for a 1-0 lead. And Kristine Lilly, who assisted Rodriguez’s goal, punched in a penalty kick goal in second-half stoppage time for the 2-0 final.
Meanwhile, the Red Stars (2-5-5) had some chances that didn’t pan out, and were hit with an early injury. Marian Dalmy, who was playing at midfield, took a hit along the sidelines and had to leave the game with a sprained ankle. Rapinoe subbed in for Dalmy in the 17th minute.
Immediately after Rodriguez’s score, Lindsay Tarpley sent a shot over the outstretched arms of Boston goalkeeper Allison Lipsher. The ball deflected off the crossbar and straight down into the ground.
In the 40th minute, the Toyota Park staff and many of its fans thought the Red Stars netted a goal when Karen Carney’s strike hit the back of the net. But Carney (pictured above) was called offside. Hayes confidently said after the match to Carney, “You were level (with the defensive back line).”
In the second half, Breakers defender Alex Scott came up with two big blocks. One of them, a blast by Tarpley in the 68th minute, hit off her arm, but play moved forward without a whistle. Tarpley continued her attacking in the 77th when second-half sub Lloyd provided a good send to the right side. But Lipsher deflected Tarpley’s shot away.
Lipsher, making just her second start, made five saves for the clean sheet to lead Boston (4-4-3). Red Stars goalkeeper Caroline Jonsson did not record a save as Boston put both shots on goal in the back of the net.
“I think if we can extend the goal width by a little bit in either direction, then we wouldn’t be speaking about a clean sheet,” Hayes said.
Next up: The Red Stars go back on the road to take on the first-place Los Angeles Sol at noon (CST) Saturday, June 27.
SlideTackles.net thoughts: There are several schools of thought on the starting lineup switches. A, it was strictly a gut feeling on a lineup that could reverse this nearly two-month drought of a victory. B, it was necessary because of the amount of games this team has played in a 2 ½-week stretch (Hayes’ main reasoning during the post-game). C, these were hot conditions, and having Rapinoe and Cristiane enter the game at a latter stage provided some energy when other teams might have fallen apart in the second half.
Outside of the score, the Red Stars held every possible advantage: shots (10-4), shots on goal (5-2), corners (7-1). The injury to Dalmy also was a heartbreaker. Normally a defender, Dalmy was bumped up to the midfield and got involved in the attack pretty early in her brief time out there. It would have been beneficial to see how she could have performed in that role for minimally a full half of soccer.
It’s back to L.A. this next weekend, and Chicago was only a few minutes away from securing a top-notch victory on the road against the first-place Sol during its recent road trip. Eight regular-season games remain, and last place meets first. This is definitely gut check time for the Red Stars, and thankfully for them, the entire WPS (outside of L.A.) is jostling for one of those four playoff spots.