Arin Wright, shown playing in the Chicago Red Stars' season opener on April 30, and her teammates were idle on Saturday night because their scheduled opponent, Washington, was playing in the exhibition Challenge Cup final. Photo by Jeff Vorva
Pro Soccer Report: Cup runneth over — Red Stars v. Washington postponed because of exhibition tourney
By Jeff Vorva
SeatGeek Stadium was empty the night of May 7.
The NWSL game between Washington and the Chicago Red Stars that had been scheduled was postponed, and will be played at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 8.
It wasn’t weather related. It was a cool but dry night. A decent crowd could have been expected.
The reason was because the exhibition-season Challenge Cup overlapped with the start of the regular season, and the championship match between Washington and North Carolina was played that night. North Carolina won, 2-1.
The Red Stars had no idea if they would be playing or not until late on May 4, after the semifinals of the Challenge Cup had concluded.
Speculation is that this strange scheduling was done to get better television exposure for the Challenge Cup finals. NWSL Deputy Commissioner Jessica Berman didn’t talk specifics during a press conference May 6, but she knows it wasn’t an ideal situation.
“Listen, this has certainly been talked about a lot,” Berman said. “Fans are frustrated by it. Internally, it’s not the outcome we would have wanted, so we can — and we will — do better as we move forward.
“Certainly, that’s what we aspire to do. I do want to manage expectations. Making a schedule — not just NWSL but every league that I have worked with and for — is very complicated. There are so many lenses in which you have to analyze and provide the matrix on how a schedule can work. Many of those different interests have competing priorities.”
Berman said the league is starting to plan out the 2023 season early and hopes to get to “a better place.”
This year’s schedule was released late, and part of that could have been due to the league expanding to 12 teams. While there will be future expansion in the league, Berman said there will be no new teams in 2023.
Stars games for U
With Paramount+ broadcasting many of the Red Stars games last year, casual fans had a hard time watching the team unless they subscribed to the streaming service.
This year, there are still a lot of games on Paramount+, but there will also be eight games on local television, which will increase the accessibility of watching the team. These games will be carried live on The U, WMEU Channel 48.1 and WCIU Channel 26.2 and/or UniMas.
Calling games for the Red Stars on The U this season will be longtime broadcaster Dan Kelly and former Chicago Red Star player Jackie Santacaterina Manny.
Kelly brings 25 years of experience to the club, handling play by play for professional and college sports on ESPN and the Big Ten Network. Manny, a Chicago-area native, played for the Chicago Red Stars for five seasons.
The U is seen on WMEU, Channel 48.1 and WCIU, Channel 26.2, Xfinity 230|360, RCN 610, WOW 170, Dish 48, Spectrum Charter 191 and U-Verse 24.
The Red Stars (1-0-0) visit expansion San Diego (2-0-0) at 4 p.m. Sunday.
San Diego destroyed Gotham, 4-0, on May 8. Alex Morgan scored twice.
Fire II earns a point
The Fire II picked up a point after a 0-0 draw with Minnesota in an MLS Next Pro game May 8 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview.
The Fire lost an opportunity to pick up a second point when it lost 7-6 in penalty kicks.
Minnesota (3-2-1, 11 points) came into the game having scored 11 goals in its previous three games. The Fire (0-3-3, four points) did the job on defense but could not get the first victory of its inaugural season.
“It was not, like, the prettiest game but we were solid defensively and that’s a good thing,” Fire II coach Luvovic Tailander said.
The Fire returns to Bridgeview with a 5 p.m. game against Cincinnati (1-5-0, three points) on Sunday.
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