Tatumn Milazzo was named one of the top players in the NWSL in June. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Tatumn Milazzo was named one of the top players in the NWSL in June. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro Soccer Report: Milazzo, Pugh named to NWSL’s Best XI for June; Red Stars win eight straight

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

She’s not just the Chicago area’s secret anymore.

The progress of Orland Park native Tatumn Milazzo as a professional soccer player is not catching only Chicago’s attention, but that of the NWSL.

The second-year Chicago Red Stars defender opened her career seeing a lot of bench time early in her rookie season before injuries to starters thrust her into a more prominent role. That included starting in the NWSL championship game against Washington.

This year, she has been a mainstay in the lineup and is showing everyone what she can do. Milazzo was named as one of the Best XI of the Month for June by the league’s media association.

Red Stars offensive star Mallory Pugh was also named to the team.

Milazzo earned the honor after successfully contesting more than half of duels, aerial duels and tackles, and registering an 83 percent passing accuracy out of Chicago’s defensive half. That helped the Red Stars to an unbeaten month, which included three shutouts.

Pugh, a forward, finished the month in third place in the Golden Boot race for most goals with six. Pugh doubled her production in June with three goals in three consecutive games, two of which served as game-winners.

Sophia Smith of Portland was the June Player of the Month. Smith was dominant in the final third for the Thorns, leading her team in scoring with five goals to help the team to an undefeated 3-0-1 record in June.

Other members of the team were goalkeeper Bella Bixby (Portland); defenders Naomi Girma (San Diego), Natalia Kuikka (Portland) and Carson Pickett (North Carolina); midfielders Sam Coffey (Portland), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego) and Debhina (North Carolina); and forward Alex Morgan (San Diego).

 

Eight is great

Milazzo opened July with her first assist of the season in the Red Stars’ 3-0 road victory over Gotham on July 2.

The Red Stars (5-1-4) entered this week unbeaten in eight straight games. they will be without goalie Alyssa Naeher, Pugh, Bianca St-Georges and Chelsie Dawber, who are on international duty.

Sarah Luebbert opened the scoring with a goal in the 15th minute on an assist from Ella Stevens. At the 24-minute mark, Milazzo found Vanessa DiBernardo for a score. Stevens scored in the 85th minute on a feed from Yuki Nagasato.

Emily Boyd, making her season debut in goal, recorded the shutout for the fifth clean sheet of her career.

 

Can we get a little help here?

Because of the bevy of players missing due to international play, the Red Stars picked up Emily Garnier and Bridgette Skiba as replacement players.

Garnier is a defender who played in the Napoli Italian Sirie A Women’s League and in a Colorado native.

Skiba is a goalkeeper who has been a practice player for the Red Stars. She played college soccer at Oregon State.

 

Brief Homecoming

The Red Stars play at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview for the first time since June 12 when they host the North Carolina Courage at 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 10.

That will be the only Red Stars game in Bridgeview in July. They have a home game with San Diego scheduled for July 30, but that match will take place at Soldier Field.

After that, the next game in Bridgeview will be at 5 p.m. Aug. 7 against Gotham.

 

Misery in Miami

The Fire II fell, 3-1, at Inter Miami CF II on July 2 in an MLS NEXT Pro game.

Missael Rodriguez opened the scoring with his second goal of the season in the eighth minute. It was the team’s second-quickest goal since Alex Monis’s in the fifth-minute against Toronto earlier in the season. Richard Fleming III assisted on the Rodriguez goal.

But that was all the scoring Chicago (3-7-4, 14 points) could muster as Miami (6-7-1, 19 points) blasted three goals the rest of the way.

“Being up 1-0 was a great opportunity,” Fire II coach Ludovic Taillandier said. “But, unfortunately, we didn’t keep the 1-0 up long enough and we conceded. It was an unfortunate scenario.”

The Fire visits Cincinnati (3-10-0, nine point) at 5 p.m. on Sunday at NKU Soccer Stadium in Highland Heights, Kentucky.

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