Racing Louisville became the only team with a perfect record in the Challenge Cup on Wednesday when they topped the Red Stars 2-0 in Chicago.
“It’s really important for us,” said coach Kim Björkegren. “We really want to play in the semifinals [of the Challenge Cup]. We felt that two important games were the Kansas City home and the game away in Chicago, and now we are in a good situation. We have everything in our own hands.”
The game was won off a goal by Uchenna Kanu late in the first half for her first goal in the NWSL. After a couple of tough months marked by injury and adjustment to the new league, the goal was an immense relief to Kanu as well as her club who have been hoping she could bolster Racing’s goal-scoring abilities.
“I’m super excited and happy to have gotten my first goal,” Kanu said. “Good job from Jaelin [Howell] and Paige [Monaghan] for making the amazing run. The counterattack was really good. I was just in the right spot, got the pass from Paige and I was able to finish it. I was super excited, and I’m looking forward to more goals to come.”
An insurance goal was scored via a header from Parker Goins in the 71st minute off a set piece from Savannah DeMelo. This is the second time Goins has scored a late insurance goal against Chicago in a matter of a few weeks. The header was perfectly executed and arched high and into the corner outside the reach of Chicago’s keeper. It went so high, in fact, that Goins didn’t even think she scored initially.
“Honestly, I thought I hit it over (the bar), so I wasn’t paying attention and I turned around. I saw it went in, and I was just super excited.”
Racing has never won two matches in the Challenge Cup – never mind consecutive ones. As a result of this match, Racing now sit solidly on top of the Central Division standings and, with six points, are only one point behind OL Reign who have played one more game than Racing.
By the Numbers
Racing did a good job of holding onto the majority of possession (56% ) throughout the game. If the Red Stars tried to move the ball through the midfield, chances were it got taken away. The midfield and forwards did a particularly good job of pressing this game to win the ball back for Racing. As seen in the passing chart in the embedded tweet below, Chicago barely even got out of their side in the first half.
Pass Networks for #ChiStars…