Red Stars coach Chris Petrucelli was not happy that his team had two players thrown out of Sunday's 3-0 loss to Portland. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Red Stars coach Chris Petrucelli was not happy that his team had two players thrown out of Sunday's 3-0 loss to Portland. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro Soccer Report: Red Stars playoff hopes dim with shutout loss in Portland

By Jeff Vorva
Staff writer

Well, this has quickly turned into a mess and it’s a mess that does not favor the Chicago Red Stars.

Heading into last week’s action, it appeared the regular-season finale between the Red Stars and Angel City on Sunday at SeatGeek Stadium would be cut-and-dried. The winner would take the sixth and final playoff spot in the NWSL and the loser would go home.

But, with the NWSL being the NWSL, nothing is that easy.

North Carolina, which was in eighth place entering last week, stuck its nose in the postseason hopeful mix and, seemingly in a blink of an eye, the Red Stars are on the outside looking in. Chicago entered this week in seventh place after a 3-0 loss in Portland on Sept. 25.

North Carolina is now in sixth with 31 points, followed by the Stars (30) and Angel City (29).

Boiling down a complicated scenario into its simplest form, the Red Stars need to beat Angel City. A win, however, does not gaurantee them a trip to the playoffs.

If North Carolina beats San Diego Friday and fifth-place Houston beats Washington, Sunday’s game at in Bridgeview will be about as meaningful as a Challenge Cup exhibition game.

The best shot for Chicago is for North Carolina stumble on Friday.

The Red Stars played a strong first half against first-place Portland with a 0-0 draw, but the second half featured the frustration of giving up three goals and having two players thrown out of the game with red cards. Zoe Morse picked up two yellow cards and Bianca St-Georges made an obscene gesture to the officials to get her red card.

“We lost our composure,” Red Stars coach Chris Petrucelli said. “We gotta get going in the right direction really fast.”

The Red Stars were outshot 21-7 and 7-1 with shots on goal.

 

Fire wins friendly shootout

The Chicago Fire defeated Club León in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw at SeatGeek Stadium on Sept. 24.

Alfonso Alvarado opened the scoring for León in the international friendly, but the Fire countered with a second half goal from Javier Casas Jr. The match also featured appearances by multiple Chicago Fire FC II and Academy players.

The Fire’s Jonathan Bornstein opened the shootout with a shot well beyond the reach of León goalkeeper Alfonso Blanco. William Tessillo was next to step up to the spot for León, but Spencer Richey made a diving save to keep the Fire in the lead.

The goalkeeper added another save off Javier Ibarra’s attempt before conceding to Jorge Díaz. Stanislav Ivanov and Boris Sekulić finished their shots to make the score 3-1. Needing a goal to stay alive, León substitute Jose Salazar blasted a shot off the crossbar, sealing the shootout win for the Fire.

The Fire returns to Major League Soccer play on Saturday at Cincinnati and hosts New England in Bridgeview in the regular season finale on Oct. 9.

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