Red Stars Top N.J., 2-1, Move up to 4th Place

The Chicago Red Stars ended their three-game losing streak and defeated defending champion Sky Blue FC, 2-1, on Sunday in Women’s Professional Soccer action at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J.

With the win, the Red Stars jump past Sky Blue into fourth place in the WPS standings. Chicago also matches their 2009 totals for wins (5) and points (20), improving to 5-8-5 on the season. Sky Blue falls to 5-8-3.

“Anytime you can get a ‘W’ on the road, that will give you more confidence,” Red Stars Head Coach Omid Namazi said. “It was a big win.”

Karen Carney had a goal and assist, and Ella Masar tallied her team-leading fifth goal to lead the way for Chicago. The Red Stars ended their skid, while Sky Blue’s losing streak reached four matches.

Next up for the Red Stars is a 9 p.m. match on Saturday, Aug. 7, against four-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Marta and FC Gold Pride in Hayward, Calif. The match wraps up Chicago’s three-game road trip, which started with a 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Independence on July 28.

On Sunday, Sky Blue goalkeeper Jenni Branam made her long-awaited start for New Jersey. Branam fractured her right patella in Sky Blue’s final preseason match this year. But the Red Stars greeted Branam and the Sky Blue defense with a quick tally in the 4th minute.

Masar chipped the ball over Branam, and Carney assisted, to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead. The Red Stars improved to 5-0-0 this season when scoring the game’s first goal.

“Ella was very active stretching their back line,” Namazi said. “She got behind and was very composed. It was a great goal and a boost of confidence.”

Chicago padded its lead to 2-0 in the 60th minute when Carney capitalized on a Marian Dalmy through ball. It was Carney’s first goal of the season. Carney and Dalmy lead the Red Stars with three assists apiece.

“She really was very good tonight,” Namazi said of Carney. “We started playing her down the middle and then we switched her with Megan Rapinoe, put Kaz on the right out wide. She was very productive.”

New Jersey’s Brittany Taylor netted a goal in second-half stoppage time, but the Red Stars held on for the victory.

“I felt we were in control for the most part,” Namazi said. “In the last 10 minutes Sky Blue made a good push, especially when they brought Tasha Kai on. They put more pressure on our defense.”

Red Stars goalkeeper Jillian Loyden made two saves and Branam made four saves for New Jersey.

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