The Chicago Red Stars have a perfect record at Toyota Park so far as the home side secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Orlando Pride.
In the first ever meeting between the two sides, the visitors dominated for much of the first half. Their diamond midfield formation had the center of the park on total lockdown, while Chicago’s backline continued to show some of the same wobbliness as the previous two outings. With Julie Johnston sitting this game out with a groin strain, there was legitimate worry that things could go pear-shaped for the Red Stars.
Chicago rallied late in the first half and had some promising chances, but ultimately both sides went into the tunnel goalless.
Orlando came out guns blazing in the second half but soon lost speed. Meanwhile, Chicago solidified in the back and their midfield started to find holes in Orlando’s diamond.
The Red Stars finally got their reward in the 64th minute when none other than Christen Press won the ball in the box and chipped it over Ashlyn Harris for the goal.
After Chicago got on the board Orlando seemed to run out of gas. Jasmyne Spencer came on for the Pride as a late substitute and offered the visitors’ their best hope of a comeback, including some close calls in as time wound down. But Chicago’s defensive line held firm, and the whistle blew to confirm a second successive win and clean sheet.
The game was at times short on spectacle, but the Red Stars are beginning to prove that they can hold on to leads and put points on the boards. That’s currently more than can be said for the other professional soccer team that plays at Toyota Park.
The Red Stars travel to the East Coast next Saturday to take on the Boston Breakers, in what will be an early homecoming for goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.