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Pro Soccer Report: Kowalksi, Pugh score for Red Stars in draw at KC

Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

The Chicago Red Stars suffered a big blow on defense when defender Kayla Sharples was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Sharples’ replacement in the starting lineup on June 18 was Amanda Kowalski. The Arlington Heights native decided to add some offense to her game, as her header in the 53rd minute — followed by Mallory Pugh’s sixth goal of the season six minutes later — helped the Red Stars forge a 2-2 draw with the Kansas City current at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Kowalski was signed after defender Tierra Davidson sustained a season-ending injury, and she has picked up some playing time. Now, it appears she will be a defensive mainstay in the lineup alongside Orland Park native Tatumn Milazzo and Zoe Morse in Sharples’ absence.

“The toughest thing about coming in with a circumstance like that is that you don’t want to move past the fact that your teammate just had a horrible injury, but you have to put it in the back of your mind and try to forget about it,” Kowalski said. “The hardest part about coming in was having my emotions take a back seat and trying to stay as level-headed as possible.

“That helped us get a good result.”

Sharples sustained her injury during 20th minute of the Red Stars’ match against the Orlando Pride at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview on June 12.

She was a key member of the Red Stars’ backline this season – playing every minute this season until the injury.

The Red Stars hope the defensive injuries won’t hurt the team too much down the stretch. Despite have a three-match scoreless streak snapped against Kansas City, Red Stars coach Chris Petrucelli said the defense played well.

Morse praised Kowalski’s play.

“We had no doubts that Amanda could step in and play the role,” she said. “We have all the trust in the world in Amanda. It honestly wasn’t that big of a change for us. We had our game plan.”

The Red Stars (4-1-4 16 points) are in third place in the NWSL and are unbeaten in their last seven matches. They are tied with Portland with 16 points — two points behind San Diego — but are behind in the standings because of goal differential.

 

Coming up

With international breaks and World Cup qualifying, the Stars’ workload gets lighter in the coming weeks.

The visit Gotham on July 2 in a month that features just four games. Compare that with a recent stretch in which they had to soldier through five games in 16 days in late May and early June.

The next SeatGeek Stadium appearance will be July 10 against North Carolina.

 

Tie for II

The Chicago Fire II picked up a point over the weekend, getting one with a 1-1 road tie against the Philadelphia Union II, but lost the opportunity for another point with a 3-0 shootout loss.

Omari Glasgow, who returned after playing with a national team in Guyana, scored his third goal of the season in the 49th minute to even the MLS Next Pro game.

The Fire (2-6-4, 11 points) recovered from a 5-0 loss to St. Louis CITY2 on June 11 to pick up the point.

“The team responded well,” Fire coach Ludovic Taillander said. “We also have to see that from one game to another there was a chance for change. We had a lot of players who played today and started today who weren’t on the field last week and didn’t experience the big loss.”

The Fire hosts the New England Revolution II at 4 p.m. Sunday at SeatGeek Stadium.

 

Mexican matches

While the Red Stars and Fire II were out of town, SeatGeek Stadium hosted a couple of games that drew huge crowds.

Atlas beat Chivas 1-0 on Saturday in the Pretemporada MX 2022 Clásico Tapatío.

On Sunday at the Clásico Capitalano, Pumas beat America, 3-1, in front of a sellout crowd. SeatGeek has a 20,000 capacity for soccer matches.

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