From left, Chicago's Arin Wright and Tierna Davidson jostle with Gotham's Taylor Smith on May 5 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. Photo by Jeff Vorva
Pro Sports Report | Red Stars finish rough week with Gotham loss
By Jeff Vorva
The first week of May was a bad week for the Chicago Red Stars, on and off the field.
It started May 3 with a 3-0 loss at Houston in the first round of the Challenge Cup.
The next day, the team fired general manager Michelle Lomnicki for a “lapse in judgment.” The news was made public on May 5.
So on May 7, the Red Stars were hoping to end that tough stretch with a victory at home against Gotham FC.
But that didn’t happen as Gotham (4-2-0) scored two first-half goals and hung on for the 2-1 victory in the NWSL at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview.
Ella Stevens scored in the 54th minute for the Red Stars (1-4-1).
Red Stars coach Chris Petrucelli said playing three games in eighth days was tough and he wanted to give some players less minutes in Houston, but circumstances did not allow it.
“This was a tough week for us in many ways,” he said. “We clearly lacked energy when we came out to start the game. But I was very happy with our response after halftime.”
The Lomnicki firing caught many by surprise. The former Red Star player was promoted to general manager in January during a series of moves geared to erase some of the stink caused by abuse allegations toward then-coach Rory Dames and the indifference toward the allegations by owner and former CEO Arnim Whisler.The Lomnicki firing caught many by surprise. The former Red Star player was promoted to general manager in January during a series of moves geared to erase some of the stink caused by abuse allegations toward then-coach Rory Dames and the indifference toward the allegations by owner and former CEO Arnim Whisler.
Whisler, who in the wake of an investigation into the matter by former U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates resigned from the NWSL board of directors, is in the process of selling the team.
“The board of the Chicago Red Stars ended Michelle Lomnicki’s employment effective immediately after learning about a lapse in judgment not to share important information with club leadership,” the team statement read.
“The board determined that it is in the best interest of the payers, staff and organization to part ways at this time.”
According to a report in The Athletic, Craig Harrington — while serving a two-year NWSL-imposed suspension — coached at Red Stars youth affiliate Chicago Empire FC and had ties to Lomnicki. She told The Athletic she made no hiring decisions for Empire.
Petrucelli did not provide details during a press conference on May 5. He noted the club’s front office provided a statement.
“My goal here was to talk about the match,” he said. “I’m hoping we can head in that direction. I found out the way everyone else did. I can’t really add anything to the conversation.”
When pressed about the current era of coaching youth soccer, the coach had a few thoughts.
“It’s clear that there have been some difficult situations over the years, and I think it’s unfortunate, disappointing at times; and I’m talking big picture here, not our situation,” Petrucelli said. “I think we need to continue to recruit good people into the environment, give them the right resources and support and continue to educate. Myself, included, when I started.
“I didn’t really have anyone teaching me how to handle certain situations. I had to learn over time, but we are now, in women’s soccer, where we have mentors. People that can help and I think we can utilize those resources.”
The Red Stars visit Racing Louisville at Lynn Family Stadium at 6:30 p.m. May 12.
Louisville (0-2-4 overall) dropped a 1-0 decision to Orlando on May 6.
In the 12-team NWSL, Louisville is ranked 11th and the Red Stars 12th.
Tie for Fire II
The Chicago Fire II tied Minnesota, 3-3, May 7 on the road in an MLS NEXT Pro game at the National Sports Center.
Down 2-0, Chicago recovered with three straight goals to take a 3-2 lead but gave up one more. Harold Osorio, Omari Glasgow and Billy Hency scored for the Fire (2-3-2).
The Fire II returns home at SeatGeek Stadium at 7 p.m. May 12 against Huntsville City (0-4-2)
Hounds fall again
The Chicago Hounds dropped a 27-12 road decision to Rugby Atlanta (5-5-0) on May 6 to drop their record to 1-9-0.
Mason Koch and John Cullen scored first-half tries for the Hounds, who return to SeatGeek Stadium for a 1 p.m. game against the New York Ironworkers on May 14.
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