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In the middle of the mob is Orland Park native and Chicago Red Stars defender Tatumn Milazzo, who may have tapped in a goal that was ruled an own-goal in her team’s 3-1 victory over the OL Reign. Photo by Jeff Vorva

In the middle of the mob is Orland Park native and Chicago Red Stars defender Tatumn Milazzo, who may have tapped in a goal that was ruled an own-goal in her team’s 3-1 victory over the OL Reign. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Two more own-goals help vault Red Stars into second place

By Jeff Vorva
Correspondent

For a few hours on July 18, the Chicago Red Stars were in first place.

After a 3-1 victory over the OL Reign in front of an announced crowd of 3,301 at SeatGeek Stadium improved their record to 5-4-2, the Stars were on top of the NWSL world with 17 points.

A few hours later, Portland beat Orlando, 2-1, to grab first place; but considering that on June 26, Chicago was 2-4-2 after a 3-0 loss to Racing Louisville and were in eighth-place in the 10-team league, this was a huge jump.

“As you can see, this year it’s going to be a super-tight table,” Red Stars midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo said. “It’s going to be constantly changing. We’re excited to be there but there is a lot of work ahead.

Chicago coach Rory Dames is happy a three-game win streak vaulted the team from eighth to second, but the final eight games of the 24-game regular season will be when he starts to take notice.

“When we get into that last third, I’ll start worrying about the table,” he said. “I know that it’s packed. In this league, everything goes in ebbs and flows.”

The Red Stars set a strange NSWL record by scoring two more own goals, which came in the 48th and 55th minute. They have a league-record-breaking five own-goals, all which have come in the past three games.

Mallory Pugh forced the first own goal to go off of the Reign’s Celia Jimenez Delgado. Pugh’s corner kick caused a second own goal, although both Pugh and Rory Dames said the goal should have gone to defender Tatumn Milazzo, who was right in front of the net and appeared to have tapped it in.

Dames said he would have the league review it. The NSWL could reverse the decision and give Milazzo, an Orland Park native and Andrew graduate, her first career goal.

For now, the Red Stars have the weird own-goal record and the season is almost at the halfway point for them. The team has 11 goals – six credited to the Stars and five own-goals.

“Goals are goals,” Dames said. “As long as the ball goes in their goal and not ours, I don’t care who gets it.

“I didn’t know ‘own goal’ would be our leading scorer. Cheapest goal scorer we ever had.”

Pugh scored the third goal of the game in the 64th minute, and in doing so became the first Red Star with more than one goal this season. She is the first to be credited with an offensive goal since June 19, when Morgan Gautrat scored in extra time of a 1-1 tie with Washington in Bridgeview.

The Reign (3-6-1), which entered the game tied with Portland for the NWSL-lead in goals in the first 15 minutes with four, did it again Sunday when Bethany Balcer scored her fourth goal of the year and second against the Red Stars this season in the 12th minute.

VANESSA D scaled

Red Stars veteran Vanessa DiBernardo logged her 10,000th minute of play Sunday and became just the sixth player in NWSL history to play 10,000 minutes for the same club. Photo by Jeff Vorva

10,000 Club gets bigger
DiBernardo became the sixth player in NSWL history to pass the 10,000-minute mark with the same club. She is the first Red Stars athlete to play that many minutes for the team.

“Ten thousand minutes – that’s crazy,” Pugh said. “I’ve always hated playing against (her). She’s all over the field all of the time.”

DeBernardo wasn’t the only player to hit the milestone in the contest.

Chicago’s Kaelia Watt, who assisted on Pugh’s goal against the Reign, also hit the 10,000 milestone. She has also played for Houston.

Former Red Star Sofia Huerta passed that mark late in the game for the OL Reign.

Up next
The Red Stars have a rematch against New York/New Jersey Gotham (4-1-4) at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.

In the second game of the season, the two teams had a 0-0 draw in Bridgeview.

Gotham is unbeaten in six straight games after beating Washington, 3-2, on Sunday. Margaret Purce scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the 76th minute.

Olympics ready to roll
Gotham will be missing Carli Lloyd, Kailen Sheridan and Evelyne Veins against the Red Stars as that trio is playing in the Olympics, which starts Thursday. Lloyd, 39, it the oldest U.S. women’s soccer Olympian ever. Sheridan and Viens are playing for Canada.

The Red Stars have four in Olympic competition playing for the United States – Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher, Tierna Davidson and Casey Krueger.

TIGHT TABLE
Heading into this weekend’s action, here are the top seven teams in the 10-team NWSL:

Team W-L-T Points

Portland 6-3-1 19

Chicago 5-4-2 17

Houston 5-4-1 16

NY/NJ 4-1-4 16

Orlando 4-3-4 16

North Car. 5-4-1 16

Washington 4-3-3 15

MALLORY P scaled

Mallory Pugh had a hand in all three Red Stars goals in a win over the OL Reign on Sunday in Bridgeview, but two were ruled own-goals. Photo by Jeff Vorva

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