Nagasato’s diving header seals 2-0 win for Red Stars over Spirit
The Red Stars are now 4-3-7

Yuki Nagasato scored her third goal of the season — and she did so in style — as the Chicago Red Stars shut out the Washington Spirit 2-0 to close out Week 14 in the NWSL.

The win moves the Red Stars into the fourth and final playoff spot as we move into the final third of the season. They are now 5-3-7 with 22 points. The Spirit remain in eighth place in the NWSL standings at 2-9-4 with 10 points.

Nagasato’s goal came in the 60th minute — a soaring, diving header on a cross from Sam Kerr. Michele Vasconcellos found Kerr in midfield and Kerr raced down the left wing. She served a quick cross into the center of the box and Nagasato dove for it, connecting straight on in midair and hammering it past Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe to give the Red Stars the 2-0 lead.

It’s Nagasato’s third goal of the year and Kerr’s second assist.

The Red Stars took the lead in the 34th minute when Casey Short snuck a Danielle Colaprico corner kick in off the post. It’s Short’s first goal of the year after missing much of the season with an ankle sprain. Saturday was just Short’s third appearance of the season.

The Spirit have now been shutout in five straight matches, going 0-3-2 over that span. They last scored on May 26 in Houston, the game in which Mallory Pugh suffered the knee injury that has her out for the moment.

The Spirit thought they had a chance for a penalty kick in the 49th minute on what looked to be a handball by Red Stars midfielder Nikki Stanton, but it was not called by referee Sergii Demianchuk. Hot Time in Old Town’s Sandra Herrera, the pool reporter at Toyota Park on the evening, inquired about the call after the game. The incident was ruled to not be “deliberate” and that Stanton’s arm was in a “natural position.”

Midfielder Morgan Brian, who signed with the Red Stars last month, made her 2018 season debut in the 76th minute.

The Red Stars are back in action on short rest on Wednesday night in North Carolina vs. the Courage. The Spirit will next be in action on Saturday night in Orlando vs. the Pride.

This story will be updated.

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