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NWSL Sunday: Short, Nagasato fire Red Stars into top four

Casey Short and Yuki Nagasato scored headers on Sunday to lift the Chicago Red Stars over the Washington Spirit 2-0 and into a coveted top four position on the NWSL table. The Red Stars improved to 2-0-0 since trading Sofia Huerta while earning the club and head coach Rory Dames a 50th regular season win since NWSL opened in 2013. The Spirit failed to score for the fifth consecutive match.

The match was played in occasional rain following an afternoon when torrential downpours led to rain cascading down the stairways at Toyota Park. The Red Stars went ahead in the 34th minute when Danielle Colaprico found Short on a corner kick. It looked like Short’s header would be cleared off the line but it somehow sneaked in between Meggie Dougherty Howard and the near post she was set up to protect.

The second goal was a thing of beauty. Sam Kerr beat two Spirit players to create space down the left side and fired a cross into the area. Nagasato, free to roam between defenders, came rushing in and delivered a flying header that beat Aubrey Bledsoe to make the score 2-0.

Later in the second half the Red Stars brought on Morgan Brian for her first NWSL action of 2018. Brian left the Red Stars to sign with Lyon earlier this year but her short her contract with the French giant in June. She missed last weekend’s Red Stars match and was held out of the starting lineup this weekend due to a groin strain.

The Red Stars (5-3-7, 22 pts) jumped into fourth place, trailing the Pride on the head-to-head tiebreaker and the second-place Reign by a single point. They won’t get to relax for the holiday though as they have a July 4 trip to Sahlen’s Stadium to visit the league leading North Carolina Courage.

The Spirit (2-9-4, 10 pts) have not scored in 450 minutes and have not won since four days before that. Next up is a visit to Orlando next Saturday on ESPNews.

GOAL SUMMARY

  1. Chicago Red Stars (Short 34′)
  2. Chicago Red Stars (Nagasato 60′)

– Chelsey Bush

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