Chicago Red Stars dethrone Solo, undefeated Seattle Reign

Chicago Red Stars dethrone Solo, undefeated Seattle Reign
Chicago Red Stars captain Lori Chalupny (left) and Julie Johnston help the US Women capture the World Cup over the summer

Has the controversy surrounding Seattle Reign FC goalkeeper Hope Solo finally gotten the best of her? Though she was unavailable for post-game comment, it would appear so in Saturday's 1-0 loss to the surging Chicago Red Stars.

It was the first loss of the season for the Reign (13-1-3).  Solo was making just her second start since a June 21 arrest for alleged assault on her teenage nephew and her sister.  Solo pleaded not guilty and issued this apology on her Facebook page. She's been keeping a low profile ever since:

I understand that, as a public figure, I am held to a higher standard of conduct. I take seriously my responsibilities as a role model and sincerely apologize to everyone I have disappointed. I love my family dearly. We, like all families, have our challenges but my sincere hope is that we are able to resolve this situation as a family. Adversity has always made us stronger and I know this situation will be no different.

Due to pending legal issues, I cannot comment further at this time. However, I am confident in the legal process and believe my name will be cleared. 

Did her recent brush with the law distract her? Or, are the Chicago Red Stars that good?

Did her recent brush with the law distract Hope Solo? Or, are the Chicago Red Stars that good?

Is it possible that the Red Stars are finally coming into their own?

Certainly, a perfect storm came together to decide in the Red Stars' favor.  The Red Stars have been showing their strength in recent days. In fact, a week prior, the Red Stars  had tied the defending 2013 NWSL Champion Portland Thorns, whose teammates include USWNT members Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair.

Additionally, the 3,302 Red Stars fans who came out "in droves" to Benedictine University Sports Complex in Lisle  served as the NWSL's equivalent of a 'sixth man.'

How else to explain the loss of a 16-game unbeaten streak and a roster that includes USWNT team members Sydney Leroux and fellow ESPN The Magazine: The Body Issue subject Megan Rapinoe?

Here's how it happened, according to the Red Stars website  (since I wasn't there)

In the game's eighth minute, the Red Stars' Julie Johnston released a long ball from her backline position and found Tancredi making a run towards goal. Tancredi ran the ball down and took a one-touched volley shot from the corner of the box. It sailed over Solo's head.

Shortly after, Julianne Sitch found Christen Press with a through-ball. Press approached Solo for a 1v1, but Solo was able to push her shot out of play.

The Red Stars put on a defensive show for the Reign, launching a blistering attack in the second half. Credit Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, to notch the team’s fourth shutout of the season. But after the win, LeBlanc was looking beyond regular-season accomplishments to a greater goal:

“We look at the big picture,” said LeBlanc to the media. “We want to make it to the playoffs and then we want to win the championship. This was the next step to make that happen. Our focus is on ourselves.”

The Red Stars will know if they're for real as they face Portland again, this time at Benedictine in Lisle, on Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m.  They'll finish their season at  home in Lisle on July 26 against the Houston Dash.

Solo will have her chance for revenge, as the Chicago Red Stars visit Seattle this Sunday, July 20.





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