Midfielder Kacey White put forth a strong performance tonight (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Sky Blue FC Unable to Overcome First Half Deficit in Road Pairing
Bridgeview, Ill. (Saturday, July 10, 2010) – Playing its second match in four days tonight, Sky Blue FC (5-5-3, 18 points) was unable to overcome a halftime deficit and eventually fell at the hands of the Chicago Red Stars (4-5-5, 17 points) at Toyota Park. The win for Chicago was its first over Sky Blue FC in six attempts, and the result puts just four points of separation between second and fifth place in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Standings.
“We played against a very good team tonight, and Chicago gave us trouble with establishing our rhythm,” Sky Blue FC head coach Pauliina Miettinen stated. “It’s a long season, and that means we will experience our fair share of both ups and downs. What is most important is that we expand on the positives and learn from our hardships so we can continue to move forward.”
Weather once again came into play tonight in the early going, this time in the form of rain rather than the heat wave that Sky Blue FC experienced when it hosted the Washington Freedom on Wednesday. After showers sprinkled the pitch for the first 25 minutes, the sun shined onto the surface the rest of the way.
Both teams were also affected by a recent call-up of the U.S. National Team, so there was a bit of a shakeup in the starting lineups. Sky Blue FC had just four players on its bench, one being reserve goalkeeper Shannon Myers, but the team was still able to field a very strong roster. One notable change to the Starting XI was the insertion of Italian National Team captain Patrizia Panico, who was receiving her first starting nod of the season after making her WPS debut in the second half of Wednesday’s pairing with the Freedom.
Early possession in this game was controlled by the Red Stars, but strong recovery by the Sky Blue FC back line and aggressive play by goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill prevented any damage from being reported onto the scoreboard.
In the 38th minute of the match, the Red Stars were finally able to break the scoreless stalemate. Midfielder Katie Chapman found just enough space on the left flank with the ball at her feet, and she delivered a feed to forward Ella Masar on the left corner of the penalty area. Masar then positioned the ball and struck a volley that sailed over the head of Luckenbill to give the host side a 1-0 advantage. That goal by Chicago was its first against Sky Blue FC in five-plus games over two seasons.
That lone tally would be enough to give the Red Stars the lead heading into halftime, as the 1-0 count stood when the head official blew the whistle for intermission.
Chicago wasted little time in the second half to extend its lead, with a notch coming in the 48th minute. Forward Kosovare Asllani found herself on the receiving end of a long ball on the left side of the Sky Blue FC penalty area, and a clearing attempt by defender Daphne Koster resulted in an own goal to increase the lead to 2-0.
Despite being down a pair, Sky Blue FC continued to fight in an effort to get itself back into the match, with midfielder Kacey White leading the way. The UNC product nearly made it a one-goal game in the 74th minute when she weaved through the center of the Chicago defense, but Red Star netminder Allison Whitworth was able to prevent her from completing the offensive run.
Danger again arose in the following minute when Chicago forward Casey Nogueira struck a volley over the head of Luckenbill, but Sky Blue FC defender Brittany Taylor raced onto the attempt and cleared it from rolling into the open net.
While the pace of this contest continued to be played at a very high rate, the 2-0 tally would eventually remain when the final whistle was blown. With the result, Saturdays continue to be unkind to Sky Blue FC, which fell to 0-4-1 in five Saturday matches this season.
“We still hold our fate in our own hands, and that is always a good thing,” Miettinen said tonight. “We must continue to train hard and play hard, and that is the way we can achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. We know we have the talent, and we just have to come together as one unit and play the way we know we are capable of playing.”
Sky Blue FC next returns to action on Sunday, July 18th, when it returns to Yurcak Field to host Hope Solo and the Atlanta Beat at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that game are available now by calling 1-888-SBFC-TIX.