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Pro Soccer Report | Three Red Stars to represent national teams

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

Alyssa Naeher always seems to have her game face going.

She has that famous scowl and looks intimidating. Even in publicity photos, she has that look that says she is not to be messed with.

The Red Stars’ goalie, one of the best in the world, is also ultra-focused on the task at hand. During the last World Cup in 2019, she kept her phone in airplane mode to avoid distractions, she said.

Airplane mode may be back, as Naeher will play for the United States in her third World Cup this summer. She is one of three Red Stars who will play in the event: Cheyna Matthews was named on the Jamaica team and Jill Aguilera will represent Puerto Rico.

Many figured she would be a shoo-in for a spot on the roster but she was not taking anything for granted.

“I don’t think it’s anything you ever expect,” Naeher said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity. I put a lot of work in. It’s very exciting.

“Each opportunity is unique. Each experience is different. Getting the call in 2015 from [coach Jill Ellis] for my first World Cup was probably a bit more of a shock to the system.”

Naeher said she has worked hard for the past four years to get to this point.

“It’s definitely something that never gets old,” she said. “To now be able to be on my way to No. 3 is humbling. This call in particular has been a four-year build and a four-year process to get to this. You are never guaranteed anything just because you have been there before.”

In 2019, Naeher only allowed three goals by USA opponents, and her shutout of the Netherlands in the championship match helped win it all for the United States for the second consecutive Cup.

Since 2014, Naeher has earned 90 caps and recorded 53 shutouts for the team in various international competitions.

She has played in the NWSL since the league’s inception in 2013 and is one of only 19 original players still active in 2023. She joined the Red Stars in 2016.

On May 12, in a match against Louisville, the Red Stars captain played in her 150th regular season NWSL match, becoming the first goalkeeper in league history to reach that milestone. During that match, Naeher recorded her 500th career save, making her the second keeper in league history to hit that mark.

The United States will participate in a friendly match against Wales at Paypal Park in San Jose on July 9. The real matches start July 21 in Auckland, New Zealand, against Vietnam. The cup runs through Aug. 20 and Naeher said she will keep a “side eye” on the Red Stars during her absence.

 

Red Stars fall again
The Red Stars lost their fourth straight overall game and third consecutive NWSL battle with 2-1 road loss to Gotham on June 25 in stormy New Jersey.

The game was delayed by lighting with Gotham (6-4-3) leading 1-0. Chicago’s Cari Roccaro evened things up with a goal after the game resumed in the 55th minute thanks to a pass from Sarah Griffiths. But Gotham responded in the 69th minute with an Allie Long free kick.

The Red Stars fell to 3-9-1 and entered this week in last place in the 12-team league with 10 points. They host sixth-place San Diego (6-5-2) at 7 p.m. July 1 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. San Diego beat the Red Stars 3-2 to open the season on March 23.

 

Fire II loses to Legacy
The Chicago Fire II dropped a 4-2 road decision to Crown Legacy June 25 in an MLS NEXT Pro game in Matthews, North Carolina.

The Fire (5-6-4) picked up two goals from Omari Glasgow, who returned from international duty with Guyana.

The Fire returns to SeatGeek Stadium at 4 p.m. on July 2 against the Columbus Crew 2.

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