Chicago Red Stars look ahead to a sixth-straight NWSL playoffs


BRIDGEVIEW, IL – AUGUST 28: Katie Johnson #33 of the Chicago Red Stars celebrates her goal during a game between Kansas City and Chicago Red Stars at SeatGeek Stadium on August 28, 2021 in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by DANIEL BARTEL/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – If you’re looking for consistency when it comes to a fall professional Chicago sports team, look no further than the main tenant at SeatGeek Stadium.

Since 2015, only a pandemic has kept the Chicago Red Stars out of the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs, and that’s because they weren’t held. From 2015 through 2019 they qualified, then after a year without it in 2020, the club punched their ticket to the postseason on Friday.

Kealia Watt’s goal in the 65 minute gave the Red Stars a 1-0 win over the Orlando Pride on Friday night to lock up the fourth seed in the six-team NWSL playoffs – the first time they’ve been staged with the expanded field.

The sixth-straight postseason appearances are an NWSL record.

They’ll match up with fifth-seed New Jersey/New York Gotham FC on Sunday afternoon at 2 PM at SeatGeek Stadium. The Red Stars will be facing their former assistant Scott Parkinson, who left Chicago in late August to take the manager job with that club.

If they can win, they’ll face the top-seeded Portland Thorns on the road the following Sunday, with the league championship being held on Sunday, November 20th in Louisville.

Despite having a few major injuries with team leaders Julie Ertz (first match of 2021) and Alyssa Naeher (Tokyo Olympics) along with a few players leaving for international duty, the Red Stars managed to hold in the entire season and saved their best soccer for late.

In eight of their final nine matches, the Red Stars earned at least one point while compiling five victories, including that win over the Pride on Friday to finish with 38 points and a final record of 11-8-5. That helped the club move up the standings and finish three points clear of NY/NJ Gotham FC for fourth place and the chance to host a playoff game.

It will be the first postseason game at SeatGeek Stadium since the 2019 NWSL Semifinals when the Red Stars’ 1-0 over the Portland Thorns win put them in what so far is their only league championship game.

In that playoff-clinching win, defender Sarah Gorden pulled off a franchise first as she earned the “Iron Woman” honor for playing every minute of all 24 matches for the Red Stars in 2021.

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