Chicago Red Stars’ rookie Jenna Bike’s momentum took her into the net during a 2-1 loss to Houston on April 1. Photo by Jeff Vorva
Pro Sports Report | Houston puts the freeze on Red Stars
By Jeff Vorva
There was no cold field advantage for the Red Stars.
The way Arin Wright saw it, the weather for the team’s 2023 home opener should have been an advantage.
It was cold and windy at SeatGeek Stadium on April 1 in a 2-1 loss to Houston in front of an announced crowd of 4,065.
The thermometer may have said the temperature was in the upper 30s, but the wind chill made it feel like it was in the upper 20s.
Advantage Chicago? Not quite.
For the second week in a row, the Red Stars (0-2-0) gave up a penalty kick for the deciding goal. Diana Ordonez scored in the 59th minute for Houston.
In a 3-2 loss to San Diego in Week 1, Alex Morgan scored the deciding goal on a last-minute PK.
“They came here, and this is our weather,” Wright said. “We should outplay them with the wind and with the cold. I think it was exactly the opposite. They played better than us in these circumstances.
“That’s something we need to grow into and be able to play our style of play in any element. I think that really let us down.”
Houston (1-0-1) scored right away, with Maria Sanchez putting the ball through the net in the third minute. Chicago scored an own goal in the 18th minute after the ball deflected off Houston’s Natalie Jacobs and into the net to tie it.
This isn’t the start the Red Stars were looking for, and coach Chris Petrucelli was disappointed in the play from his troops.
“We didn’t play well enough to win,” Petrucelli said. “In the second half, we never really got control of the ball. In the first half, we got the ball in dangerous positions, but our quality just wasn’t there.
“It wasn’t typical of us. We gave the ball away too many times. When we turned it over, they went fast. Those are self-inflicted wounds.”
There was also a little pain inflicted on Chicago’s star scorer Mallory Swanson, who was struck in the throat in the first half but stayed in the game.
“She said she can’t really swallow, but she can breathe,” Petrucelli said.
Four Red Stars were called up during the April FIFA window to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Defenders Tierna Davidson and Casey Krueger, who missed the 2022 season due to injury and maternity leave, respectively, made the team. So did goalie Alyssa Naeher and scoring machine Swanson.
The U.S. will face Ireland at 1:30 p.m. April 8 in Austin, Texas, and again on April 11 at 6:30 p.m. April 11 in St. Louis.
The Red Stars take a break from NWSL action next week as they host the Mexican National Team at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 8.
They return to MLS play at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 15 against the Kansas City Current at SeatGeek Stadium.
Shorthanded Fire II wins
The start of a three-event-in-three-days stretch at SeatGeek Stadium came on March 31 when the Fire II slipped in a game between storms and beat Toronto II, 2-0, in an MLS NXT Pro game to improve to 2-0-0.
The Fire’s Henrique Gallina picked up a red card at the 40-minute mark and the team played a man down the rest of the game.
Despite that handicap, the Fire pulled off the victory as Eric Leonard scored in the 55th minute and Charlie Ostrem followed suit three minutes later.
The defense was razor sharp as it did not allow a shot on goal and goalie Jeff Gal recorded the clean sheet.
The Fire hosts the Columbus Crew II (0-0-1) at 6 p.m. on April 9 at SeatGeek Stadium. The Crew won the MSL Next Cup last year and had the best regular-season record in the league with a 16-3-5 mark and 55 points.
Hounds beaten by Cats
The Chicago Hounds closed the busy weekend in Bridgeview with a 38-21 loss to the Houston SaberCats in Major League Rugby action on April 2.
The Hounds (1-5-0) played better in the second half after trailing 19-0 at the break.
Mason Koch, Mark O’Keeffe and Sean Yacoubian scored tries for the Hounds. Koch was a sub for Lindsey Stevens, who sustained a shoulder injury early in the second half.
After staying home for four straight games at SeatGeek Stadium, the Hounds hit the road for just the second time at they visit the New England Free Jacks (4-2-0 and leading the Eastern Conference) at 1 p.m. April 8 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy, Mass.
That opens a four-game set on the road. The Hounds next play at home on May 14 against the New York Ironworkers.
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