HERRIMAN, Utah – It had been since March 11th that Chicago got the chance to watch a professional sports team of their own on the floor, ice, or the field.
The Blackhawks’ victory over the Sharks at the United Center came just before all the major sports leagues shut down their seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three months and 16 days later, the Chicago Red Stars had the honor of restarting professional play for Windy City teams.
They opened up their slate for the NWSL Tournament in Herriman, Utah against the Washington Spirit, with the team getting the sporting spotlight on Saturday night. It was the first game for the Red Stars since they lost in the league championship game to the North Carolina Courage in October.
It would end up in the same result for the team after an eight month delay, with the Spirit knocking off the Red Stars 2-1 at Zions Bank Stadium. It’s a contest that had as big of a headline before the match as the result itself.
Both the Red Stars and the Spirit wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts during warmups and during the National Anthem in support of the movement. Many took a knee during the playing of the song, including defenders Julie Ertz and Casey Short, with the latter getting very emotional during the playing.
Players would then take a knee on the pitch before the match began in a moment of silence in honor of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis Police officer on May 25th.
Washington was able to use a score early in each half to get the offense they’d need against the Red Stars. USWNT standout Rose Lavelle got the Spirit on the board in the eighth minute when she put a rebound in the back of the net to make it 1-0.
In the first minute of the second half, Ashley Hatch was able to take the ball off the feet of Red Stars goalie Alyssa Naeher and tap in the goal to make it 2-0.
Morgan Gautrat would get the goal back under five minutes later to cut the deficit back to one, but that was the only tally of the game for the Red Stars. A few late chances for an equalizer come up empty.
This is the first of four games for the Red Stars in the preliminary round before the knockout round starts on July 11th. Next up for the team are the Portland Thorns on Wednesday at 11:30 AM.