If ever there was a match that the Chicago Red Stars were not supposed to win it was probably this one.
Previously disjointed, psychologically frail and impotent, Chicago was second to bottom. The team had scored just three goals in six matches. They hadn’t found the back of the net in 225 minutes, or five halves if you like division. It was also a team that had been known to fold like a lawnchair at the first sign of adversity. Oh right, and it was a side that had fired its coach just one week prior. With no immediate heir in place General Manager Marcia McDermott took the reins, despite not having coached since the WUSA days.
Their opponents? FC Gold Pride, the class of WPS. FCGP had not lost a match since Week One. Much of their roster would probably resemble a World All-Star XI. And their depth of attacking talent might not be something this league will see rehashed in a long time.
Maybe this parity thing really does exist.
Chicago emerged from the match proper victors after Swedish international Kosovare Asllani tapped in her first WPS goal off of a Marian Dalmy cross. FC Gold Pride were not able to voice a rebuttal. The Red Stars picked up their second win of the season with the 1-0 victory.
Chicago’s defense successfully muted FC Gold Pride’s studded attack for long stretches of the match. And they were able to create real chances for themselves in the final third. Granted, just one was put away but sometimes it only takes one.
The Red Stars knew they had something to prove. They knew that they would not be favored to win, or even draw. They knew that Plan A had not worked for them. They knew that this was prime time to turn around their season in hopes of starting anew. By all indications, every Red Star player bought what McDermott was selling.
Credit to Emma Hayes who seemed genuinely magnanimous and maybe a little wistful on Twitter as the result went final. “I knew the goals would come,” she typed, “it was just a matter of time.”
If ever there was a time for a genuine giant-killing courtesy of a team that had yet to find its groove, it’s probably right now. After the week’s sad dramatics with the Saint Louis Athletica and a goalless draw in New Jersey an hour prior, Chicago provided WPS with the hope-laden on-the-field story it badly needed.
Let’s hope they continue to write it.