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Boston 1, Red Stars 2 ... as it happened!

Goals from Tancredi and Press make sure Chicago's dominance takes three points to keep Red Stars atop NWSL standings

Courtesy NWSL

Here we go again. Just four days after our 1-1 draw, we go off to Boston to do it all over. Boston is at the bottom of the table, but they seemed to give us a much harder time than I would've expected.

Christen Press was available as a sub, her first time since May.

Starting lineup:

Tancredi / Huerta

Quon / Dibernardo / Colaprico / Mautz

Gilliland / Johnston / Johnson / Lomnicki

Dalton

Subs: LeBlanc, Erceg, Hemmings, Leon, Press, Walls.

With only the handful of days rest, Hoy, Hemmings, Erceg and LeBlanc all get a break. Who is awesome? Samantha Johnson? When does she not start? And Julie Johnson makes her first start since coming back from that world cup deal.

First half

The game started off with the usual press and pass action. Not counting a free kick taken by Dibernardo given for a foul on Quon, Huerta was the first to get a shot on goal that was easily gobbled up by goalkeeper Naeher. She tried again a few minutes later since the Red Stars hadn't left Boston's side of the field. Boston's defense and midfield were fairly shambolic early on with no real time to organize their lines.

Mautz was absolutely crushed in the tenth minute, leveled by Julie King. Rough. Huerta fanned her off with her hand and she was cured. Like James Brown overheating and getting revived by a cape. She is awarded a free kick that Dibernardo takes, but it came to nothing.

In the 14th minute Dibernardo slid the ball forward to Huerta on the left, deep in our own half, Huerta running out of room and with a Breaker closing her down took a touch and burst beyond her defender into wide open spaces. She was able to get her cross off to Tancredi in front of goal who one timed her shot, but Naeher blocked it again. Naeher!

Naeher would do this throughout the game and again in the 19th minute, coming off her line to shut down another Huerta attempt on goal She is so huge for Boston right now.

Finally in the 21st minute, Boston did something. From nothing Schoepfer got a shot through many bodies of both persuasions that went just wide. And then, shortly after, Boston's Evans had enough of Gilliland's magic feet ways and stepovers and beautifully slid in and to take it away. A fine tackle. Props.

The sun came out.

Boston had another chance in the 32nd minute. Julie Johnston half cleared an incoming cross that fell for Kyah Simon who took a semi-acrobatic side volley karate kick shot on goal that forced Dalton to make a massive diving save to keep it from going in. Dalton!

Huerta with another shot attempt, Naeher with another massive block. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The scoring began in the 41st minute. Off a throw-in, Gilliland found Huerta who sent it right back to Gilliland and she did her Gilliland thing and burned down the left side of the field before sending a long cross into the box that Mautz volleyed back across the face of goal for Tancredi to sneakily volley past Naeher for the goal. And it was so sneak, like she hardly looked at it until after it was in. Like, hello ball, let me introduce you to the back of my heel. Sneaky, Tancredi, sneaky. As a good striker does, she put herself into a good position for that one.

From a Chicago fan's perspective the first half was an enjoyable, chill, experience. An effortless display from Chicago pressing and passing and taking our time with it. Then Boston came into the game more and then it was a little more open and back and forth and all that. And then the goal from Tancredi. Lovely. Pleasant. Like hanging out with some summer beer in your back yard. Just like that. From a Boston fan's perspective. Probably not so much.

Second half

The first ten minutes of the second half went down much as the first half - Chicago living in Boston's half and then Boston occasionally breaking out for a few moments before we continued our press.

Hemmings came on for Lomnicki in the 56th minute. But, why? Lomnicki seemed to play well for the time she was on. Was she injured? Tired? Not providing enough offensive threat? We may never know.

A few minutes later Press came in for Tancredi and Tancredi passed the captain's band to Hemmings.  And with Press on, there was much joy in Chicago and less joy in Boston. Happy to see her signature off the ball trot in a Chicago jersey again.

The next few minutes were all Chicago as Boston defensive shape kind of dissolved into mist. We got three consecutive shots off, but all were blocked. Then Press created space for herself by cutting back and ditching her defender. With the space she made, she took a dipping shot that Naeher just tipped over the cross bar. Naeher! Press!

Boston decided to make it interesting in the 68th minute. Stephanie McCaffrey sent a cross in that Hemmings was trying to track, but Kyah Simon caught up to her and as they both went up for it, it was Simon who got her head on it and the rest of her body on Hemmings. The ball went in and Hemmings went down hard, seemingly landing on her shoulder, her head kind of bouncing off the ground as well. Not pretty, but effective.

I honestly don't know how athletes do this playing sports thing. If I fell like Hemmings did, I would be a weeping mess on the ground, refusing to get up and then going home and not getting out of bed for a week. Calling in to work, sorry, I got knocked down. Instead Hemmings just gets up and is like, cool, let's play.

Hoy came in for Mautz in the 80th minute. And we were rolling with three certified strikers. We wanted this, we hate draws. What was the formation, like 4-1-2-3 or something? I must know!

A few minutes after coming in, Hoy, created some space on the left side, worked her way in to get a cross off to Press. But Press' shot goes into the side netting. Close. Real close.

Boston almost got some/the points in the 85th minute when Mewis took an amazing free kick. Press and Dibernardo formed one tiny wall and the mass of remaining players were all scrummed up to the left. Mewis placed her shot in between these two obstacles and past Dalton's outstretched diving hands. Fortunately for us, the far post came up big and tipped it out. We were lucky. Holy fuck. Close, Boston, real close.

89th minute. Oh. My. God. Nail biting edge-of-your-seat stuff. Julie Johnston restarted after an offside call, passed to Quon who passed back to Johnson. Johnson saw Huerta making a move and lofted the ball over the midfield, Huerta got to the ball, stayed onside and with three defenders closing her down, held up the play. She saw Press and Hoy materialize in space to her right, both isntantly swarmed by Bostonians, but she still got the ball through to Hoy who was hounded and tapped the ball out to Press who had marginally more space just inside the top of the box.

And then Press was Press.

She set up her shot and smashed the ball past diving and outstretched Naeher. Hugs all around. Five goals in four games for her. Huzzah!

And. Then. We. Slowed. The. Game. Way. Down. And then it was over. And top of the league, top of the league. Again and again! And after the game, the Boston players looked so, so dejected. Oh, Boston fans, I'm so sorry. As a Chicago Fire fan, I know your pain all too well.

As of now we've got 25 points, but Seattle won as well and they are right at our heels at 24 points. Can I say how much fun this season has been? Where did this team come from? I've been following this team for a few years now and this year is so different from the past two years. We were always decent, always competitive, but this year we're like transcendent. Beautiful stuff. I guess this was slowly simmering and developing just underneath the surface for the past two seasons.

Notes

- Where is Chulupny?

- I'm probably one of few, but whenever I hear Boston's McCaffrey called, I just imagine people riding on time-traveling dragons in a far off land called Pern.

- I like to pretend that Julie Johnston's cross tattoo behind her ear is actually a straight edge X. But, I am a godless sort.

- Apparently it was Think Pink night in Boston. Didn't know they had so much love for Twink in Boston, good on them!

- Mewis got Dalton's knee in her chest in the 66th minute and dropped straight down. Samantha Johnson is class and tries to help out.

- Do we play a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond, Dibernardo at the top and Colaprico at the bottom? Or is it a 4-1-3-2, with Colaprico as that 1? These small nuances keep me up at night. Thinking. Thinking. It's important.

- Does Gilliland even wear shin guards? Her socks are so low.

- Boston's production crew is solid. Steady camera work, not herky jerky at all, they are able to get good angles to minimize camera movement. Well done. I am envious.

- Oh, you liked Twink so much? Here's the whole album, enjoy.