Photo by ISIphotos.com
By DAN LAULETTA
Chicago Red Stars head coach believes poor officiating by referee Ted Unkel cost her side a chance to equalize against champion Sky Blue FC in a 1-0 loss at Yurcak Field in Sunday night’s season opener. She hinted at several questionable calls, but was most perturbed about a would-be penalty kick drawn by Karen Carney right on the nose of the 82-minute mark.
“I thought we were the better team to be fair, I think we were robbed by poor officiating,” Hayes said afterward.
Carney went down in the box on a challenge from Sky Blue keeper Karen Carney that appeared to be a foul based on Fox Soccer Channel replays. Unkel swallowed his whistle and the teams played on with the Red Stars failing to find the equalizer.
Sky Blue went ahead thanks to some strong play through the midfield that concluded with Heather O’Reilly finding Tasha Kai, who slipped a shot underneath goalkeeper Jillian Loyden. Loyden later made some key saves to keep her team within striking distance. By game’s end the Red Stars were clearly the better side, especially coming through midfield, but were undone by some poor play in the final third.
“Good performance, disappointing result, shocking officiating,” Hayes concluded.
Here is how the weekend's other matches went:
Philadelphia Independence 0, Atlanta Beat 0
The expansion teams kept each other off the scoreboard in the debut match for both teams. Amanda Cinalli came closest for Atlanta with a header off the post in the first half. At the other end, Amy Rodriguez got in for a one-v.one chance against Atlanta goalkeeper Allison Whitworth who came up with a save on what was the game’s final meaningful touch. A crowd in excess of 6,000 was on hand at John A Farrell Stadium.
Saint Louis Athletica 2, FC Gold Pride 0
Eniola Aluko scored twice on passes from Shannon Boxx to lead Athletica over new-look FC Gold Pride. Hope Solo was credited with six saves on her way to the shutout. The result brought a welcome change to the start of the season for Athletica who opened 2009 0-2-2 and did not score in their first three matches. FC Gold Pride debuted Marta and Camille Abily but were unable to find the back of the net—a problem all too familiar from last season.
Boston Breakers 2, Washington Freedom 1
The Breakers essentially traded Amy Rodriguez for Lauren Cheney over the winter and Cheney paid immediate dividends by winding up in the right place at the right time to tap in a low, driven ball that managed to pass untouched through the box and to the back post. That goal for Cheney matched Rodriguez’s total from 2009 and had the Breakers on their way.
Less than a quarter hour later Kelly Smith converted on another Freedom miscue in the box by showing what makes her among the world’s most dangerous finishers. Allie Long pulled one back late for the Freedom. Ashley Phillips earned the win as Boston’s surprise starter in goal.