BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Red Stars ended their 2010 Women's Professional Soccer season with a first in franchise history—back-to-back victories.
Chicago finished the season with seven points more than last season and may have only missed the playoffs by a point, depending on the outcome of remaining games.
Had newly acquired forward Veronica Boquete not been ineligible to play three games due to immigration problems, it is likely the Red Stars would have made the cut. Chicago has won all three games in which Boquete has appeared. She contributed a goal and two assists in the two appearances in which she started.
Here's a recap of the final match:
Casey Nogueira and Megan Rapinoe each netted a goal for Chicago as the Red Stars defeated the Washington Freedom, 2-1, on Sunday in WPS play in front of a Toyota Park crowd of 4,067.
With their 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Independence on Wednesday and their Sunday win over Washington, the Red Stars garnered their second straight win—something the team was unable to do throughout this season and the inaugural 2009 campaign.
The Red Stars wrap up the season with a 7-11-6 record, while Washington falls to 7-9-7. The Freedom could have locked up the fourth and final playoff position with a win over Chicago, but now they are forced to secure a positive result against the Atlanta Beat next Saturday in order to clinch.
Following a scoreless first half, the Red Stars struck first against the Freedom when Veronica Boquete contributed the first of her two assists when she slotted the ball to Nogueira in the 50th minute. Nogueira snuck in between a pair of Washington defenders, shot to the far left post and the ball bounced off the inside of the post and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Red Stars lead.
Washington's Sarah Huffman had two yellow cards, the second coming in the 87th minute, and the Freedom had to play the remainder of the match shorthanded.
Chicago quickly capitalized as Rapinoe tallied her first goal of the season in second-half stoppage time for a 2-0 lead.
The Freedom responded, however, with a Beverly Goebel goal about one minute later. Washington continued to pressure the Red Stars as four minutes of stoppage time was added on down the stretch. But Chicago contained the Freedom the rest of the way.
Red Stars goalkeeper Jillian Loyden only needed to make one direct save, but Washington did have plenty of attacking moments where Loyden stepped up to intercept the ball before the Freedom could complete their attack.
Washington goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris made nine saves as the Red Stars regularly peppered her with shots. Chicago held a 22-10 advantage in shots.
In our last column we suggested that Coach Namazi's fate be tied to a playoff appearance, but given the dramatic change Boquet's arrival has brought, and the fact that under Namazi, in only a partial season, the club earned an additional seven points over last year, we will recant and recommend that Namazi get another year.
Finally, on a personal note, it is with mixed emotions that I offer my farewell to Chicago Red Stars fans. After covering the Red Stars for Bleacher Report for the past two seasons, I'm trading places with Veronica Boquete and returning to my home town of Buffalo for new business and personal opportunities.
I will continue to cover the WPS at large from afar and hope to have a lot to say about Veronica's impact on her new team. And of course I will continue to be the Red Stars biggest fan.
Chicago Red Stars (7-11-6) vs. Washington Freedom (7-9-7)
September 5, 2010 -- Bridgeview, Ill., Toyota Park
Red Stars 2, Freedom 1
Freedom 0 1 - 1
Red Stars 0 2 - 2
1. CHI - Nogueira (Boquete), 40; 2. CHI - Rapinoe (Boquete), 90; 3. WASH - Goebel (unassisted), 90.
Red Stars: Loyden (GK), Dalmy, Engen, Markgraf, Spilger, Formiga, Rapinoe, Chapman, Carney (Cristiane, 46 -- first-half stoppage time), Nogueira (Vandenbergh, 88), Boquete.
Freedom: Harris (GK), Whitehill, Marshall, Moros (Goebel, 85), Sauerbrunn, Bompastor, Long, Sawa (Bock, 46), Huffman, Asante, Wambach.
Shots: Red Stars 22, Freedom 10
Shots on goal: Red Stars 11, Freedom 3
Saves: Red Stars 1, Freedom 9
Corner kicks: Red Stars 7, Freedom 4
Offsides: Red Stars 3, Freedom 4
Fouls: Red Stars 9, Freedom 7
Cautions and ejections:
66th minute: WASH - Huffman (yellow card)
74th minute: WASH - Bock (yellow card)
86th minute: CHI - Formiga (yellow card)
87th minute: WASH - Huffman (yellow card -- issued a red for picking up second caution)
Referee: Ted Unkel
Assistant referees: Christina Ibanez, Greg Dopka
Fourth official: Victor Herrera