BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — After five straight wins the Chicago Red Stars have now lost two in a row and Wednesday’s loss to the Orlando Pride was a flat performance.
Chioma Ubogagu and Rachel Hill combined on both Orlando goals in a 2-1 win for the visiting Pride.
The Red Stars emerged as NWSL Shield contenders after the win streak. The outlook has changed a bit after back-to-back losses to Sky Blue and now Orlando, the two bottom teams in the standings.
“You got to beat the teams that you’re supposed to beat if you want to be relevant in the league and we didn’t do that the last two games,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames said. “So we put ourselves into a different spot. We’ll either figure our way out of it or we won’t.”
The match got off to a scary start with Alex Morgan going down from a collision in the fifth minute. She stayed down for five minutes and a stretcher was brought out before she was helped up to her feet. Morgan walked off the field with help and was taken straight to the locker room and subbed off.
A Pride spokesperson said it was a neck injury and Morgan was taken out as a precaution.
Red Stars defenders Julie Ertz and Sarah Gorden both made contact with Morgan when all three went for a ball in the air. Morgan barely left her feet before going down.
Ubogagu replaced Morgan and assisted Hill on a header in the 33rd minute. In the second half, it was Hill assisting Ubogagu.
“It’s tough to see a player go down and we all think it was a foul, but we all hope she’ll be alright,” Hill said. “I think it kind of worked in our favor in the end because Chicago came at us fast and hard in the first few minutes. We were really on our toes on the back foot. I think that when she went down it calmed the game down and we were kind of able to collect ourselves and get back into it.”
This was Morgan’s first start with Orlando since the World Cup. Pride coach Marc Skinner was happy to see his team win after the adversity. The Pride (4-11-2, 14 points) moved out of last place in the league with the win.
“Everybody looks at the table and goes, ‘Orlando are this and that,'” Skinner said. “Well actually you can see that what we’re trying to do. It just takes a little bit of time. You need results like this. You need an opportunity to win a game like this, winning ugly, for everyone to go ‘Yeah, we can do this. I believe in it.’ Tonight hopefully that’s a spur on for the next stage of our development.”
Red Stars forward Sam Kerr drew a red card from Alanna Kennedy in the 90th minute. Kerr was in on goal and was taken down by Kennedy.
Tierna Davidson turned the pressure into a goal in the 96th minute, but it wasn’t enough.
Dames said the Red Stars (9-7-2, 29 points) were a bit unlucky to lose 2-1 at Sky Blue over the weekend. On Wednesday, he thought they were outworked.
“We just didn’t really have any edge to us the last two games,” Dames said. “We have a lot of people with personalities on our team, but there wasn’t a lot of personality on the field tonight.”
The announced attendance was 5,454.