Photo by Melissa Tamez
Christen Press has possession during the USA’s 1-0 victory over South Africa on Saturday. Press is one of three Chicago Red Stars players on the squad.
CHICAGO FIRE AT FC DALLAS
WHEN: 8 p.m., Saturday
WHERE: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
FIRE RECORD: 3-8-5 (as of Sunday)
DALLAS RECORD: 11-5-4
LAST TIME: The Fire won a 2-0 match Aug. 2 in Bridgeview as David Accam scored in the fourth minute and Shaun Maloney added a goal in the 85th minute on a penalty kick.
FT. LAUDERDALE AT CHICAGO FIRE
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday
WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview
WHY: It’s the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
TOUGH IN ILLINOIS: The Fire is 27-1-2 in U.S. Open Cup games played in this state.
Road woes continue in de Leeuw’s debut
The Fire is about to endure an unhappy anniversary after it dropped a 1-0 road loss to Toronto on Saturday night.
Even if it wins its next road game Saturday, it will be more two years and 33 matches without a Fire victory on the road – a Major League Soccer record. The last time the Fire won away from home was a 1-0 victory over New England July 12, 2014.
The Fire (3-8-5) hoped that the addition of Dutch player Michael de Leeuw would pump up the offense but his debut was tame. He didn’t start the game and made his debut in the second half but was only able get off one shot in his 45 minutes of work.
“I came here for three points and a win and we didn’t do that,” he said.
When they signed de Leeuw in May, Fire officials warned fans that it might take him awhile to get acclimated to the new league.
"I think Michael came fresh into the game, [and] he adjusted very well to the pace and demands for this league,’’ Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. “I think he's building the trust now with [his] teammates, and [creating] connections. We could see he was very dynamic in the box, very dangerous. We expect him to improve our overall performance in the attack and score goals. There is no pressure on him, of course, and he knows what is expected of him."
The Fire had 11 shot but just two on target.
Toronto’s Justin Morrow scored in the ninth minute for the lone goal of the game.
Lot of games in a little time
The Toronto game opened a five-match-in-a-15-day span that will test the depth of the team.
The Fire was scheduled to host Kansas City on Wednesday night, visit the MSL’s top team Dallas on Saturday, host Ft. Lauderdale in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open quarterfinals next Wednesday and visit New England July 23.
RED STARS AT ORLANDO PRIDE
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Camping World Stadium, Orlando
RED STARS RECORD: 5-4-3
ORLANDO RECORD: 6-6-0
LAST TIME: The Red Stars beat the Pride, 1-0, May 1 at Toyota Park as Christen Press scored the lone goal in the 65th minute.
Red Stars lose, you guessed it, 2-0
This is getting monotonous for coach Rory Dames and the Chicago Red Stars.
For the third straight game, they Red Stars took on an upper-division National Women’s Soccer League squad on the road. And for the third straight game, they came home with a 2-0 decision, this time to the Washington Spirit Saturday night at the SoccerPlex in Germantown, Maryland.
Before this skid, the Red Stars were on top of the 10-team league. Now they have plummeted to fourth place and are eight points behind league-leading Portland, which beat the Red Stars on June 22 to open Chicago’s streak.
Estefania Banini scored in the first half for the Spirit (7-2-2) and moments after subbing in the second half in the 74th minute, Katie Stengel score the second goal.
Chicago had 11 shots including seven on target, but could not score. The Red Stars have gone 298 minutes without a score since Casey Short’s goal in a 3-0 victoroy over Boston on June 18.
USA blanks South Africa
While the Red Stars were near the nation’s capital, three members of the squad – Christen Press, Julie Johnston and Alyssa Naeher – were in Chicago as the United States Olympic team beat South Africa, 1-0, in a friendly match in front of an announced crowd of 19,272 fans at Soldier Field.
Crystal Dunn scored in the 35th minute with an assist from 18-year-old Mallory Pugh. Press and Johnston played the full match. Naeher didn’t get into the game as first-string goalie Hope Solo notched her 100th career shutout for the USA.
Naeher is battling Ashlyn Harris for a roster spot as coach Jill Ellis will have just two goalies on the roster.
“These are three of the best keepers in the world and I have confidence in each of them,” Ellis said. “The competition is incredibly competitive. Unfortunately one will have to come to Rio as an alternate.”
The USA team will take on Costa Rica in Kansas City, Kansas on July 22 in its final tuneup before taking on New Zealand on Aug. 3, France on Aug. 6 and Colombia on Aug. 9.
Plenty of Hope
The crowd gave Solo a huge ovation when she was announced before the game and received plenty of love after the game in which she notched her 100th career shutout against her 29th different country in 16 years and was named the Budweiser Woman of the Match.
“I’ve shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears to be on this team,” Solo said. “I’ve had some incredible defenders I’ve played with over the years. It’s an honor to play with this team.’’