Chicago Red Stars 2 Press 16’, Huera 38’
Portland Thorns 3 Raso 3’, Sinclair 9’, Sonnett 55’
The Chicago Red Stars had exactly two jobs today. First, defend their home turf, where they currently enjoy a nine-game unbeaten run. And second, hold or gain ground in the playoff race.
They utterly failed on both counts.
Chicago is known, respected, and feared throughout the league for having a nearly-indomitable defense. Tonight, Portland cut through that defense like a hot knife through butter. Again, on our own patch.
It was embarrassing.
This team that prides itself on being so tough to break down gave up two goals in less than ten minutes. I’m not sure anyone with any ounce of self-respect can justify that.
Barely three minutes after kickoff, Hayley Raso waltzed through Chicago’s backline and beat Alyssa Naeher to slot past and draw first blood. 1-0.
Six minutes later, Christine Sinclair does this and rolls our backline for candy. 2-0.
To their credit, the Red Stars didn’t just roll over after going down 2-0 inside of ten minutes. This team has fight in it. In the 16th minute, Christen Press had her “oh fuck this” moment and pegged the Thorns back with this gorgeous effort. 2-1.
Chicago spent most of the rest of the first half hunting for an equalizer. No way they were giving up their streak. No way in hell would they lose like this in front of their home fans.
Sure enough, Sofia Huerta came through late in the half with this sumptuous finish. 2-2.
The Red Stars went into the tunnel with a level score, which is remarkable considering the hill they had to climb to get there. Maybe they could get a result after all. Even if they don’t win, surely they can at least hang on for a point.
Oh, my sweet summer children.
Portland put an end to those febrile dreams early in the second half, thanks to one Emily Sonnett. 3-2.
Chicago didn’t exactly give up after this. But the writing was on the wall.
Their best chance came very, very late, when Huerta nearly made it two on the night.
But tonight, a bad night for both Chicago soccer and America, it just wasn’t enough. The home unbeaten streak is shattered and our place in the playoff race just got a lot more tenuous.
The Chicago Red Stars (8W 5D 4L, 29pts, 3rd place) won’t have much time to unpack tonight’s result, as they host Seattle at Toyota Park on Wednesday night. Here’s hoping they can pull themselves together in time.