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Draw puts banged up Red Stars into playoffs

It wasn’t pretty but the Chicago Red Stars earned point they needed to return to the playoffs, clinching their second straight berth following a scoreless draw at FC Kansas City. Alyssa Naeher made an extraordinary save on Brittany Taylor early in the match and the Red Stars survived a second half that saw the Blues spend a majority of time in their end. Though they booked their ticket to October, by dropping points the Red Stars took themselves out of the running to host a semifinal. They will face either the Spirit or Thorns on the road in the semifinals.

Of greater concern to the Red Stars will be the health of Arin Gilliland and Stephanie McCaffrey, both of whom left with injuries before halftime. Gilliland had played every minute this season before getting tangled up with Alex Arlitt in the opening minutes. They were already without Samantha Johnson who missed the match with a knee contusion. FC Kansas City got the injury big as well when Caroline Kastor left holding her midsection after colliding with Julie Johnston.

In the 8th minute, Tiffany McCarty served a ball into the box and Kastor got up and headed it forward to Taylor. She did not get solid contact on the shot but the ball of Taylor’s foot was heading in before Naeher dove across the goal line to knock it away en route to her 6th clean sheet of the season. Her counterpart Nicole Barnhart also recorded her 6th shutout to move the pair into the league lead.

The Red Stars (8-5-6, 30 pts) will close the season at home against the Spirit on Saturday, September 24. FC Kansas City (6-8-5, 23 pts) became assured of a losing season for the first time. They are in Orlando, also September 24. The league is dark next week in observance of the FIFA window.


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