For the first game in a new league with an uncertain future, the Chicago Red Stars' 1-1 draw Sunday afternoon in Lisle against the Seattle Reign seemed appropriate.
It was a good start in the National Women's Soccer League, but maybe not as good as the Red Stars would have liked, on and off the field.
On the field Seattle scored the first goal, a 10th-minute strike from Christine Nairn off a Liz Bogus assist. The Red Stars earned the equalizer in the 25th, Lori Chalupny scoring off an assist from Ella Masar, who stuck with the team after it left Women's Professional Soccer and spent a couple of seasons in a lower division.
"I thought it was an OK outing for the first game," Red Stars coach Rory Dames said. "They had us on our heels the first, I would say, 15-20 minutes. They really got up onto us and pressed us and caused us some problems."
The Red Stars pressed forward in the second half, looking for the victory, but couldn't solve Seattle's defense.
"All in all, you never want to drop points at home, but for where we're at with our preparation and some of the players that are going to be important for us that just arrived this week, I was very pleased with the effort that we put into the game. ... We'll just continue to go forward from here."
Off the field, the club drew what looked like a good but not capacity crowd to Benedictine University, though an attendance figure was not available. There were some glitches on the day in ticketing and streaming the game over the Internet, things that should be improved for the next home game April 27 against popular U.S. national team forward Alex Morgan and the Portland Thorns.
"The games need to be entertaining," Dames said of the league's future. "I think that's first and foremost. I think the players -- all the players, regardless of where you fall in the pecking order -- need to understand that the league is a privilege and not a right, and that in order for the league to stick around, people have to be willing to come and watch them play, and they probably have to do some things that other professional athletes don't have to do. ... It needs to be fan-friendly and the games need to be entertaining until it gets on its feet a bit."
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