In a crucial First Versus Third matchup that could’ve let the leaders pull away, the Red Stars squandered a golden opportunity on Saturday night when they settled for a 1-1 draw against 3rd place Washington Spirit.
In her first start for the Red Stars since coming back from World Cup duty, Christen Press gave our intrepid heroes the lead in the 30th minute with a long-distance scorcher. Chicago fended off an increasingly desperate Spirit for much of the second half, but their hard work was undone in the 82nd minute when Crystal Dunn collected a rebound and finished.
The first 15-30 minutes of the game amounted to a goalkeeper’s duel as Chicago’s Karina LeBlanc and Washington’s Ashlyn Harris both came up big to keep the score level. After Press’ go-ahead goal the Red Stars started to retreat somewhat but more or less kept a handle on things until halftime. The Spirit came out with guns blazing in the second half, and, less than ten minutes from full time, got their just reward for their relentless pressure. This was a tactical, high-energy clash between two of the best teams in the league, and a shared point seemed very fair.
The Red Stars are back home next Saturday when they host the defending champions FC Kansas City. That game will go along way towards deciding playoff spots and seeding. Tickets are going fast, so if you’re considering going, get them quick.