The Red Stars found some much-needed resolve as they ground out a 1-0 win in their home opener against Western New York Flash.
In their first game after having returned to Toyota Park on a permanent basis, Chicago were looking to redeem themselves after their tough 3-1 loss last week in Houston. A deflected goal from Casey Short in the first half gave them the advantage they needed, and the defense, so maligned last week, looked much improved as they held on for a clean sheet.
The Flash dominated the opening ten minutes but Chicago eventually found their rhythm and managed to dictate terms for the rest of the first half. Short’s goal came just before the half-hour mark, when some clever build-up play from the Red Stars forced WNY’s back line to scramble. A partial clearance landed at Short’s feet. Her shot deflected off an opposing defender, fooling Sabrina D’Angelo and sailing into the back of the net. The Flash tried to fight back immediately but couldn’t string anything promising together before halftime.
The second half was much more back-and-forth, with both sides coming close to finding a goal. Christen Press had a golden opportunity late in the second half to put the game away when she got the ball on a 1v1 breakaway, but her shot was blocked at point-blank range by Di’Angelo.
WNY did enough to deserve an equalizer, but the Red Stars dug deep and showed the kind of resolve that defined them in 2015 and was sorely lacking last week. The back line is obviously still working through some communication issues— Julie Johnston at times looked frustrated by her teammates— but tonight saw a Red Stars team that more closely resembled the one we’ve become accustomed to.
Chicago will try to build on tonight’s win next Sunday when Alex Morgan and the Orlando Pride pay a visit to Bridgeview.