Chicago soccer report: Mallory Swanson scores 1st goal for hot Red Stars — and Korbin Albert apologizes after Megan Rapinoe call-out

Mallory Swanson is back in business after scoring her first goal for the Chicago Red Stars since her season-ending knee injury last year. Chicago-area native Korbin Albert apologized for a slew of social media posts after former U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe called her out. And the Fire are struggling to win on the road.

Every other Tuesday, the Tribune will provide an update on what happened — and what’s ahead — for the Fire, Red Stars and local soccer.

Mallory Swanson scores first goal since knee injury

The wait is over for Mallory Swanson.

After she went scoreless in the first two games of the NWSL season, Swanson bagged a goal against the Orlando Pride on Friday — her first since suffering a season-ending knee injury last spring.

Swanson sprang free in the box during the 64th minute of the Red Stars’ 1-1 draw in Orlando, settling a chip pass by Jenna Bike before crushing a shot past keeper Anna Moorhouse into the left netting.

After the goal, Swanson raised both arms and tipped her head back in visible joy as she celebrated a crucial step in her return from an injury that resulted in three surgeries and complications from an infection.

The next step is to repeat the feat for the U.S. women’s national team. Despite playing only six international games before her injury last spring, Swanson led the team in scoring with seven goals in 2023. She will have her first opportunity to return to the international stage this month in the SheBelieves Cup, which kicks off Saturday in Atlanta.

Fire still struggling on the road

Six games into the MLS season, the Fire still can’t clear one hurdle: winning on the road.

The Fire have a win and a loss at Soldier Field, but away from home they have two losses and two draws. As a result they sit tied for 12th in the Eastern Conference with five points.

The most recent road defeat was a 3-0 shutout by Atlanta United.

Korbin Albert apologizes after Megan Rapinoe call-out

Chicago-area native and U.S. women’s national team prospect Korbin Albert issued an apology on social media last week after her activity on social media sparked outrage from fans and teammates on the national team.

The 20-year-old from Grayslake — who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in the top French flight — previously shared and liked a series of anti-LGBT+ posts on TikTok. Albert also reposted a video mocking former U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe’s injury in the NWSL championship game in November. Albert wears No. 15, which was previously Rapinoe’s national team jersey.

Rapinoe posted a statement on her Instagram story Thursday denouncing anti-LGBT+ sentiments, adding “kids are literally killing themselves because of this hate.” The post was shared by current and former U.S. teammates including Becky Sauerbrunn, Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams.

Although Rapinoe did not specify Albert, the midfielder responded with an apology several hours later.

“I want to sincerely apologize for my actions on social media,” Albert wrote on her Instagram stories. “Liking and sharing posts that are offensive, insensitive and hurtful was immature and disrespectful which was never my intent. I’m really disappointed in myself and am deeply sorry for the hurt that I have caused to my teammates, other players, fans, friends and anyone who was offended.”

Albert has logged seven caps with the U.S. women’s national team since her debut in December 2023.

MLS ends referee lockout

Major League Soccer and the Professional Soccer Referees Association reached an agreement on a seven-year labor contract last week, ending the 37-day lockout that defined the league’s opening weeks.

The new contract will affect the 260 members of the Professional Referee Organization, which provides officials for MLS, the NWSL and other U.S. leagues.

PRO referees went on strike Feb. 18 after the union rejected a five-year deal. The new agreement includes a 28.36% increase in wages for the 2024 season followed by increases of 3% in 2025, 6% in 2026, 3% in 2027 and 2028 and 4% in 2029 and 2030.

The league relied on strikebreaker referees for 69 games throughout the first five weeks, which drew criticism due to a visible dip in match-calling accuracy.

“Human beings make individual mistakes, but it’s the avoidance of mistakes and it’s the situational awareness that make our officials the most experienced and the best ones in North America, in some cases in the world,” PRO President Peter Manikowski said. “It’s not what happens on an individual call but what leads up to that which is, I think, a big change that folks will see on the field of play this coming weekend.”

Number of the week: 2

After finishing last in the NWSL last season, the Red Stars sit second in the league table through the first three weeks at 2-0-1. They are the only other undefeated team outside of the Kansas City Current, who are first after winning their first three games.

This is the first time the Red Stars have gone undefeated in their first three matches since 2019.

Up next: Fire

Up next: Red Stars

  • April 13: vs. Angel City, 8:30 p.m., Ion


“It has been one of the highlights of my career playing with a player like you. You make me better. You make our team better. Having you back after last year is such a blessing.” — Jenna Bike to Swanson after her first goal of the season