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Best-Laid Schemes: Red Stars 1, Washington 1, NWSL game recap

Chicago, seeking revenge for last year’s playoff exit, are forced to settle for a draw against the Spirit

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Chicago Red Stars 1 Press 82’ (PK)

Washington Spirit 1 Ordega 42’

Revenge as a motivation has some drawbacks. There’s a temptation to invest emotionally in revenge that one wouldn’t for any other reason, such that when vengeance-motivated plans don’t come off the impact can be devastating.

The Red Stars were motivated today, in part, by a desire for revenge. This was the first time they would’ve faced Washington since the NWSL playoff semifinals last year, in which the Red Stars came oh-so-close to their first championship final but were thwarted at the last. Chicago wanted three points, of course, and the chance to underline bolster their 2017 playoff credentials. But as Sandra noted yesterday, there was much more bubbling under the surface.

Which perhaps underscores why the result— a 1-1 draw, perfectly fine against a team like Washington under typical circumstances— falls squarely in Draw That Feels Like A Loss territory.

The Red Stars came out of the gate hot, with Chicago’s attackers splitting the central defenders apart like squares on a Hershey bar. But it was Dani Colaprico, our pick for Woman Of The Match, who really threatened Washington in the early minutes with a blistering shot on goal.

And again a minute later.

Chicago were the better side through much of the first half but couldn’t get the payoff they were looking for. Call it the weather, call it hangover from the bye week, call it whatever you want; even at their best, the Red Stars always looked half a step behind today.

And when the Spirit saw their opening, they grabbed it by the horns.

The Red Stars tried to grab some early momentum in the second half but couldn’t quite keep the pace they wanted. They got progressively slower and sloppier as the minutes ticked on. With nearly half an hour remaining, Rory Dames ordered a double substitution and completely hot-swapped the central defensive pairing, bringing in an untested Green-Gorden pairing to hold things together.

Chicago’s back line problems would only be compounded a short time later when Taylor Comeau was seen coughing up blood during the hydration break. She was taken off and ushered to the locker room. After the fulltime whistle, Comeau was led to a waiting ambulance and taken to a nearby hospital. (We’ll update you on her condition as soon as that info is available.)

Late in the game it looked like the Red Stars were headed for a disappointing, embarrassing home loss against the team from whom they harbored a burning desire for revenge. But the Soccer Gods saw fit to step in and toss them a lifeline. A late penalty call handed an equalizer to Chicago on a silver platter and Christen Press took full advantage.

With the heat and humidity taking its toll, both teams decided they were fine with the result as it stood. The last 10-15 minutes played out more or less as a formality, and not even five minutes of added time could entice either team to make a final push. The heat rose, the seconds ticked down, and both sets of players collapsed in a heap when the final whistle blew.

The Red Stars (5-2-2, 17pts) remain in second place in the NWSL table, just one point behind North Carolina. They host Sky Blue FC next Sunday at Toyota Park.