The Red Stars’ first NWSL playoff win gives them a shot for a championship

The Chicago Red Stars celebrate after beating Portland 1-0 at SeatGeek Stadium in the NWSL semifinal to advance to team's first league final in history. (Courtesy: ISI Photography)

BRIDGEVIEW – It’s a challenge they’ve faced before, but until Sunday they’d yet to best it.

For the previous four seasons, the Chicago Red Stars reached the National Women’s Soccer League semifinal round, and each time they’d left with a defeat. Whether they finished second, third, or fourth in the regular season standings, the team always had to watch the league’s final from home.

That won’t be the case in 2019. A fifth try at the semifinal was finally the right one for the team.

Aided by another goal by their leading scorer and a strong defense, the Red Stars knocked off the Portland Thorns 1-0 in front of over 9,000 fans at SeatGeek Stadium on Sunday afternoon for their first NWSL playoff win in franchise history. That means an appearance in the league’s championship match against the North Carolina Courage next Sunday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina at 2:30 PM.

As it was all season long, Sam Kerr provided the offensive spark the Red Stars needed.

In the eighth minute, Yuki Nagasato sent a pass downfield for the forward, who drove down the pitch and then slid it to the left side of the goal for the score to make it 1-0. Kerr led the NWSL in goals this season and is the league’s all-time leader in that category as well.

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher took care of the rest as she made a couple of key second half saves for her seventh shutout of the season.

All those efforts have put the Red Stars into the final for the first time as one challenge is bested in the NWSL with another shot to conquer another a week from Sunday.

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