Dear Red Stars,
Condolences, friends. It was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? It’s a shame it all had to end when Allie Long threaded that pass through to Abby Wambach who buried her shot, as she does. Sky Blue FC lost 2-1 on Saturday night while you guys lost your season. And all at the hands of a team that currently has your former head coach serving in its front office. Appropriate, isn’t it. Luck has always hated you guys.
But there were bright spots. Whitney Engen; she’s quality. It would be unjust for her not to be up for consideration for Rookie of the Year. She’s a defender so she won’t win it but she best be recognized.
Ella Masar, phew, what a story. After failing to find the net in approximately 30 games as a professional, she somehow found this wonderful vein of form. She was in such a poor state that she nearly didn’t make the June 25th trip to Boston that eventually turned things around. She scored a pair of goals that night and hasn’t stopped scoring since. Girl’s scored 8 goals in 12 games. Only six players in the league have better scoring records.
And what about Formiga? She’s scary good and is both scary and good in equal measure. She’s appeared in all but one match for the Red Stars this season and did everything a midfielder can do. She broke up play, won tackles, hassled opponents, dictated play, found open teammates and solidified the midfield. Don’t let her lack of goals or assists fool you. She does everything else.
This being said, there were a couple of not so awesome things this season as well. Like Emma Hayes and her sacking on May 24th. Up to that point the Red Stars had taken four points from a possible 18. They had also managed to score just three times in six matches. Omid Namazi and Charlie Naimo were appointed Head Coach and Technical Advisor respectively. Since then Omid Namazi has taken 14 points out of a maximum 45 points. That’s an improvement from Hayes’ record but the Red Stars’ 2009 season also has been taken into account.
Cristiane, Megan Rapinoe and Casey Nogueira have all been duds this season. And that’s the end of that.
And then there were the injuries and transactions. The Red Stars have parted ways with Meghann Burke, Ifeoma Dieke, Michele Weissenhofer, Brittany Klein, Anita Asante, Jackie Santacaterina, and Kosovare Asllani this season. Kelsey Davis and Julianne Sitch suffered season-ending injuries. Jess McDonald and Nikki Washington have constant injury woes. Veronica Boquete and Christie Shaner were signed. That’s a lot of player movement.
So yeah, Marta may have scored as many goals this year as your entire team combined. And yes, you haven’t been able to string two consecutive wins together in franchise history. And ok, you’ve never won a game after going a goal down. All those things may be true, Chicago, but there’s still something redeeming about you guys.
It can’t only be the kits, although they’re still the coolest in the league.
Maybe it’s the fans and how you guys have consistently averaged the second-best attendance in the league all season long, despite winning just twice at home. Or perhaps it’s the team’s front office. Imagine how hard it is to market a team that can’t win at home, has no real ‘stars’ and that plays some pretty atrocious soccer at times. And through that, the team can still attract the second-best attendance in the league? Well done, front office. (P.S. you know an organization is classy when it issues a press release admitting the team has been eliminated from playoff contention as soon as it happens.)
The Red Stars may have been the first team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but they could still have a major effect on playoff implications. They have Philadelphia and Washington remaining, two teams angling for a playoff position. So go on Chicago, keep things interesting and give it a go.
And hey if it doesn’t work out, there’s always the #1 draft pick to look forward to. One wonders how Alex Morgan will do alongside Ella Masar.
The Chicago Red Stars: never good, never bad, never dull.