The Chicago Red Stars beat FC Kansas City 1-0 in front of a home crowd on Saturday thereby giving them an important three points in a tight NWSL 2016 table. The game marks the first start for recently acquired forward Stephanie McCaffrey, who scored the game’s only goal (54’).
Apart from the added firepower McCaffrey brought to the home team’s attack, the Red Stars continued to show how varied their offensive strengths are: Sofia Huerta and Vanessa DiBernardo had their typical threatening chances, but Cara Walls and Taylor Comeau calmly stepped up (again) to fill the lineup and create opportunities. Walls in particular showed her ability to settle the ball and lay it off to teammates with clear shooting lanes. Walls layed the ball off to DiBernardo who was denied by Nicole Barnhart in the 51st minute, and three minutes later, provided the pass to Huerta, who took two shots before McCaffrey buried the rebound.
FCKC, in part a credit to their defense and Barnhart, was able to keep Chicago to just one converted opportunity. Barnhart, who has five clean sheets, had a handful of big saves that underscored her value in the league. However, FCKC was unable to find a response and never really seemed to settle into the match. A few dangerous through balls from Frances Silva to Tiffany McCarty and some searching shots from Mandy Laddish and Lo’eau LaBonta from outside the box comprised a few of their better chances to level the scoreline.
The night was also a commemorative nod to former Chicago Red Star and national team member Lori Chalupny. Chalupny’s jersey was retired, a first in Red Star history, and she was acknowledged for her contribution to the team and women’s soccer throughout the years. She is currently a part of the Maryville University coaching staff and is set to take over as head coach in 2018.
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