Red Stars dejected after déjà vu loss to Philly

Posted on 16 May 2010 by mwkajdas

Like an ever-recurring nightmare, the Chicago Red Stars gave up an early goal for the third time in six games and spent the remainder of play Saturday evening against the Philadelphia Independence trying to find the equalizer that just wouldn’t come. Despite Coach Emma Hayes’ previous admonitions to her players about defending the first and last five minutes of each game, the Red Stars failed to clear the ball from in front of their net during Philadelphia’s opening assault. In reply, Amy Rodriguez found Joanna Lohman standing unguarded on the left side of the penalty area and, in the 6th minute of play, Lohman curled the ball around an unsuspecting Jillian Loyden to give Philadelphia all the scoring they would need for the night.

“I just saw it at the last second,” Loyden recounted after the game. “I was kind of blocked a little bit. It was just a nice finish from the corner there.” Emma Hayes was slightly more emphatic in her assessment of those opening minutes. “I’m pissed off… They’re getting really deflated when they go behind after five minutes and then we have to climb ourselves out of the barrel. I’m more frustrated that we can’t carry out the game plan in the first period so that we can set ourselves in a good position.”

Chicago looked ready to retaliate in the 17th minute of play when Casey Nogueira passed the ball out to Karen Carney who found space on the left wing. Carney crossed to Cristiane in front of the net but her header shot ricocheted wide of the right post. They tried again in the 33rd minute when once again Nogueira passed the ball up from midfield to Carney who found Cristiane alone on goal but, this time, the offside flag shot up even as Philadelphia keeper Karina LeBlanc dove to push the ball safely out of harm’s way.

Philadelphia almost closed out the first half in style when, in extra time, former Red Star defender Nikki Krzysik sneaked a pass up the left sideline to Amy Rodriguez waiting in the Chicago penalty box. A-Rod fired a left-footed blast that deflected off Loyden’s outstretched glove and tucked itself inside the right goalpost just as the offside whistle blew and the crowd of 5645 Red Stars fans collectively exhaled in relief.

But, for the most part, the first half provided little excitement for Chicago fans, who elicited more cheers from seeing their faces displayed on the Jumbotron than from anything their heroines produced on the pitch. To stir things up in the second half, Emma Hayes brought Kosovare Asllani into the game at halftime in place of Megan Rapinoe. “I want the players to do a certain thing in order to get the ball out wide, and Pinoe kept drifting in,” Hayes explained about the substitution. “Megan Rapinoe wants to do everything to help her team but sometimes, by losing discipline and coming out of position and coming into areas where I don’t want you to come, that makes it hard for the team. And that’s why sometimes, by taking it on their own back to solve situations, it’s actually more harmful to the team than just carrying out your role and staying in your own wide area which we asked her to do. She’s disappointed but Megan’s a good pro and she’ll work out of that in training this week.”

The substitution provided a little déjà vu of its own as, six minutes into the half, Asllani collided with LeBlanc and came up holding her ribs. Asllani missed the last two games after she cracked a rib during a collision with Karen Bardsley just two minutes into the previous home stand against Sky Blue FC. As in that encounter, Asllani played for the rest of the game but we’ll still have to wait and see if history repeats itself on her ribcage.

This was the first time that Chicago has played against one of the two new WPS expansion clubs but ironically, it was the Red Stars who looked like the neophyte team. After continuing for another twenty minutes to lob long passes to nowhere in an attempt to outflank Larsson and Falk—Philadelphia’s self-proclaimed “Twin Towers” of defense—Hayes decided to go big herself and brought in the taller Jessica McDonald to replace Cristiane on the front line. “It was important to stretch them a little bit and make room to run behind them,” Hayes revealed. “I think Cristiane got a great deal of time and Jess came in to put them under a bit of pressure and she had one good moment from a set piece to use her aerial capability.”

But the move produced little else and, in the 78th minute, Natalie Spilger was pulled for Ella Masar in a last-ditch attempt to add striking power and score a goal. “We went from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 and that generated a little more attack,” Hayes explained. “We put Karen Carney in the central position and that, I think, suited the team.”

But Philadelphia countered five minutes later, bringing in defender Sarah Senty to replace forward Lianne Sanderson in order to beef up their defense and protect their one-goal lead. The dueling substitutions came to a head in the 86th minute when Karen Carney launched a pass over the engorged Philadelphia back line but Ella Masar, positioned in front of the net, was unable to lift her leg up onto the ball.

“Our game plan tonight was to come out and really get a good early start and put them under pressure and make it difficult for them but, once again, we failed to do that and I take full responsibility for that,” Emma Hayes summed up the game afterward. “Because this lot care. They care about getting results for this team and they care about putting in performances that make their fans proud. Sometimes that doesn’t always show out… These players do care and it’s a very hurt locker room right now. They’re very upset with both their performance and the result… Take a look at their faces. It’s not for a lack or wanting to do it… You could drop a pin in (the lockerroom). It’s incredibly silent. They’re very hurt right now.”

Perhaps they might consider installing a Jumbotron.

Match Summary
Chicago Red Stars vs Philadelphia Independence
May 15, 2010 – Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL
Attendance: 5,645
Weather: Breezy, overcast and 54 degrees

6’ Philadelphia: Joanna Lohman (Amy Rodriguez)

83’ Chicago: Formiga (yellow card)

Chicago Red Stars:
Jillian Loyden
Marian Dalmy
Kate Markgraf
Natalie Spilger (78: Ella Masar)
Whitney Engen
Karen Carney
Katie Chapman
Megan Rapinoe (46: Kosovare Asllani)
Cristiane (65: Jessica McDonald)
Casey Nogueira

Philadelphia Independence:
Karina LeBlanc
Heather Mitts
Sara Larsson
Allison Falk
Nikki Krzysik
Caroline Seger (72: Holmfridur Magnussdottir)
Jen Buczkowski
Lori Lindsey
Joanna Lohman
Lianne Sanderson (82: Sarah Senty)
Amy Rodriguez (87: Danesha Adams)

Referee: Tony Crush
Asst Referees: Matthew Kreitzer, Greg Dopka
4th Official: Jorge Cuate

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