NWSL playoffs: Chicago Red Stars eliminate NJ/NY Gotham FC as Carli Lloyd’s career comes to a close

Bridgeview, Illinois — The Chicago Red Stars defeated NJ/NY Gotham FC, 1-0, in the quarterfinal of the NWSL playoffs on Sunday in front of 7,000 fans at SeatGeek Stadium. Red Stars forward Mallory Pugh, who made her first career playoff appearance, scored the lone goal in the game, which proved to be enough for Chicago as it advances to the semifinal next week against the Portland Thorns. 

Gotham FC will head home eliminated from the postseason, which effetely closed the final chapter on Carli Lloyd’s storied career. The 39-year-old Lloyd, who has won just about everything on the field (two World Cups, two Olympic golds), was embraced by players from both teams at the end of the match in what was the moment of the day.

The two sides played out another close, tightly contested match, with neither side fully taking control in the early parts for the first half. Some disjointed play and a physical half contributed to some limited looks on goal throughout the first half. 

Second-half shift

Early cautions were issued during the second half as both teams made attempts to play themselves into the game. After receiving a yellow in the 51st minute, Red Stars midfielder Sarah Woldmoe pressed Gotham’s backline and served an assist to Pugh who scored her first NWSL playoff goal.

Chicago’s recent form heading into the playoffs has been a combination of defending narrow leads, and the remainder of the second half was a similar scenario. As both clubs made more substitutions in the second half in an attempt to made game adjustments, the Red Stars were able to remain organized defensively, while still pushing for set pieces, and goalkeeper Cassie Miller secured a clean sheet. 

“I thought she did such a phenomenal job today of coming off her line and getting the ball and she’s grown,” said Red Stars center back Sarah Gorden of Miller’s play. 

“I feel so comfortable. Like I know where she’s gonna be now … that kind of relationship takes time and now it’s all about finding how we can best support each other.”  

Miller had to step into the starting goalkeeper role for Chicago over the summer when U.S. national team keeper Alyssa Naeher went out with an injury sustained in the Olympics. She came up big with her performance on Sunday. 


The narrow scoreline was enough for the Red Stars, who will now head to Portland, Oregon, to face the Thorns in the semifinal on Nov. 7 on CBS Sports Network. The winner will book a ticket to the NWSL Championship in Louisville on Nov. 20.

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