Mallory Pugh has 10 goals for the Red Stars. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Mallory Pugh has 10 goals for the Red Stars. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro Soccer Report: Red Stars hanging on to playoff spot; Fire eliminated from postseason contention

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

The Chicago Red Stars returned to Bridgeview with mixed results in two games, but held onto the final playoff spot in the NWSL and increased their lead over seventh-place Angel City.

The top six teams make the playoff in the 12-team league.

The Red Stars (8-6-6, 30 points) cooled off red-hot Kansas City, 4-0, on Sept. 14 but couldn’t keep the momentum going Sept. 17 and fell to Houston, 1-0.

Angel City (7-7-5, 26 points) dropped a pair of games last week, including a 1-0 setback to San Diego Saturday in the Wave’s debut at Snapdragon Stadium, which drew 32,000 fans.

Chicago plays Sunday at Portland and hosts Angel City on Oct. 2. Angel City, however, had nine possible points to collect and was scheduled to host Washington on Wednesday, Racing Louisville on Sunday and the showdown with the Red Stars at SeatGeek Stadium.

“At this time of year, we have to find points,” Red Stars coach Chris Petrucelli said.

The coach thought his team looked a little slow against Houston and hopes the league looks into the matter of teams playing two matches in four days.

Houston’s Ebony Salmon scored the lone goal of the game in the 24th minute.

The win over the Current, however, was the most impressive of the season as the Red Stars dominated a team that had not lost since May.

Kansas City entered SeatGeek in first place for the first time in the two-year history of the team. The Current was 9-0-4 in the previous 13 games after opening the season 0-4-1.

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Orland Park native Tatumn Milazzo scored a goal against Kansas City on Sept. 14. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Orland Park’s Tatumn Milazzo got the scoring going right away in the fifth minute. Mallory Pugh scored her ninth and 10th goals of the season in the seventh and 59th minutes, and Amanda Kowalski added one in the 71st minute.

Milazzo, a defender who doesn’t get a lot of scoring opportunities, scored her second goal of the year and third in her two-year career on Pugh’s throw-in.

“We have a game plan, and you move into your spot and execute,” said Milazzo, an Andrew graduate.

“We tried to get the ball in that area, and she certainly jumped on it,” Petrucelli said. “It’s a huge win because Kansas City was on such a great run. I don’t know what kind of statement it is, but we got three big points.”

It was the Red Stars first game in Bridgeview since Aug. 7.

Milazzo leads the team this season with 966 attempted passes and 43 interceptions.

 

Milestone for Hill

Chicago’s Rachel Hill made her 100th NWSL appearance in the Kansas City match. She had 60 appearances with Orlando from 2017-2019 and joined the Red Stars in 2020.

 

Friendly Fire

The Chicago Fire was eliminated from the MLS playoff picture with a 3-2 loss to Charlotte on Sept. 17 at Solider Field. The team has two matches remaining at SeatGeek Stadium, including a friendly at 5 p.m. Saturday against the Mexican Premier League’s Leon FC.

Leon is an eight-time Liga MX champion.

 

Lunay tunes in Bridgeview

Puerto Rican singer and rapper Lunay will host a postgame concert following the Fire’s final regular season match at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 against New England Revolution at SeatGeek Stadium.

The match will also serve as the Fire’s 25th season celebration, featuring alumni appearances and an exclusive 1998 MLS Cup Champions Pennant giveaway, in addition to Lunay’s postgame performance.

“We are so excited to welcome Lunay on Oct. 9 and to host his concert for our fans as part of our Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations and 25th Anniversary weekend,” said Chicago Fire FC President of Business Operations Ishwara Glassman Chrein. “We are thrilled for this unique opportunity to engage with our incredible fanbase and celebrate the Hispanic community with Lunay’s post-match performance, in addition to all of the exciting activities that will be held throughout our anniversary weekend.”

 

Fire II finished

The Chicago Fire II missed the playoffs but beat Inter Miami CF II, 1-0, Sunday at SeatGeek Stadium to close its first MLS NEXT Pro season with an 8-11-5 record.

Alex Monis scored a goal and Mihajlo Miskovic recorded his first shutout of the season.

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