Posted by: Ethan | September 5, 2010

WPS: Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Freedom

Or, “how my fantasy team stiffed me… to my face!

Well! It’s been a long time since I attended an actual women’s sporting event, and knowing that I was making the jump from Texas to Illinois, I snagged a ticket to the final regular season game of the year for the local WPS team, the Chicago Red Stars. Not being huge into the Red Stars it was all about the opponent, for me. Wambach! Sawa! Bompastor! ZOMG!

How was my first trip back to live in-person WPS action since Opening Day last year? Let’s go to the videotape… or photos, anyway:

Toyota Park pre-game

My first look (this year) at Toyota Park.

Note: As I took well over 150 photos, and narrowed the final spread down to 20, I’ll be letting the photo caption feature on this site do most of the heavy lifting.

Red Stars office

No question that the Red Stars are living within their means.

As usual, it was thrilling for me to see actual WPS players live in person after countless hours watching them on TV. I am thrilled that WPS gives people a chance to see and support our national team players as well as get familiar with (and excited about) top players from around the world. With attendance reported at just over 4000, that’s a huge missed opportunity to experience exciting women’s soccer without having to go to the Olympics or whatever.

Red Stars coach

The Red Stars coach checking out the pre-game drills.

Red Stars pre-game

My first look at the Chicago Red Stars.

Washington Freedom pre-game

My first look at the Washington Freedom.

My, how WPS has changed – for the better! Specifically, back during opening day weekend in 2009, when I went to St Louis (who played against the Red Stars, naturally), the merch stand had pencils, mini soccer balls, and shirts cut for women only. I ordered a St Louis shirt this year (before the team folded) and I wore it to the game today on principle. The merch stand at Toyota Park was loaded with stuff for all ages and genders, and since it was the final game of 2010 all of it was half price. SCOOOOORE!

ZOMG my favorite Freedom players

ZOMG my favorite Freedom players warming up!

Kick off

It's either the opening kick off or Casey Nogueira has a bit of The Captain in her. (Nailed it!)

In-game 1

Exciting in-game action.

Goal sign

Why I say women's sports are crunk, part XXXVIII.

As an aside: I was hanging out at the Red Robin in Hurst, Texas with some Dallas Diamonds folk, and I made mention that women’s sports are “crunk”, prompting a former player next to me to say, in a tone like I just dropped the n-word, “I’m glad you said that.” Why, I asked? “Because I’ve been saying that for years, and people don’t believe me! Maybe they’ll believe it coming from you.” You better believe! It’s crunk. Now go buy lots of tickets.

Freedom vs free kick

Freedom preparing for Chicago free kick.

FSC announcers

FSC announcers, and a reminder to support the sponsors.

Aside 2: Last year, after the inaugural WPS season ended, I sent an email to the Fox Soccer Channel filled with high praise for Jenn Hildreth and Mark Rogondino. I asked them to please bring them back again this year, and you see how well I was obeyed! So, if you have been watching WPS Sundays on FSC, and like the announcing, please take a moment and send an email to FSC and tell them that. Be sure to select “TV” and then “Fox Soccer Channel” from the drop-down subject lists.

Abby offsides

Abby Wambach disagrees with your offsides call.

Bompastor

Bompastor, bom bom bom, bom bommmmm

Abby getting pissy

Abby Wambach is motioning to speed up the free kick.

Never having seen Abby Wambach in the flesh, I observed today that she tended to be very slow to get set up for the next run at goal, which resulted in some facepalm-worthy offsides calls. She got pissy about it later on in the game but come ON, Abby, you can’t walk like you’re behind a funeral procession after the last foiled goal attempt.

Rapinoe et al

My best shot of Megan Rapinoe's funky hair. Whatever she did made it look like a feather jammed into her head.

Rapinoe gooooool

Rapinoe scores!

Thank you banner

Classy move by the Red Stars, and I mean that.

Chicago won 2-1 as decided by Megan Rapinoe. The coach addressed the fans over the PA afterwards and apologized for the bad season but hoped the final game would convince people that the Red Stars coming on strong for 2011. As a good faith gesture (okay, plus the discount helped), I bought a t-shirt and intend to buy Red Stars season tickets next year. Now that I am “in market” it is very important to me to show – and give – my support to WPS. The people next to me told someone that this was their first WPS game ever, and they’re going to be season ticket holders in 2011. That was a family of four with two very young kids. It was good to see validation that it’s very accessible to be a WPS season ticket holder whereas other leagues would indeed break the bank. I have been a WPS season ticket holder from the start. Care to join me in 2011? (No, I don’t work for the WPS or any other league.)

Natalie Spilger

Not exactly the Lambeau Leap, more like the Toyota Chair Stand. Just as effective for getting close to the fans.

Red Stars van

Oh yeah, dis MY hoopty!

So, all in all it was a good time. Chicago won, Washington squeaked into the playoffs anyway, my Fantasy numbers stunk (more on that story later), and I got to see USA and international stars right here in Bridgeview, IL. Here’s to the playoffs!

Patio grub

What did I say about support the sponsors? Huh?

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