Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames says he’s been “trying different combinations” through his team’s first two NWSL Challenge Cup matches. Defensively, those combinations are working well. The Red Stars have given up just one shot on goal through 180 minutes. The team’s attack, however, is a much different story, failing to score for the second straight match, resulting in a 1-0 loss to the Portland Thorns Thursday night at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview.
The Red Stars attack actually created a few decent chances in the first half, the best of those being a left footer by Kealia Watt that was saved by Thorns goalkeeper Adriana Franch in the 19th minute. A few minutes later, Tatumn Milazzo cracked a shot from outside the box that narrowly missed the frame. Throughout the first half, the team’s offense looked a little more dangerous than it did in the previous match, a 0-0 draw against Houston.
But the end result was the same—zero goals scored.
“I feel like we got some good crosses off,” midfielder Danielle Colaprico said. “We had a lot of chances, we just need to focus on putting the ball in the back of the net.”
In the 66th minute, Portland turned a giveaway by the Red Stars into a goal against the run of play, when Morgan Weaver held off Casey Krueger to score off an assist from Celeste Boureille.
What. A. Finish! @morganvweaver scores her first of 2021.#BAONPDX | #CHIvPOR pic.twitter.com/h2kqg8viNE— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) April 16, 2021
“We gave the ball away in a bad place,” Dames said after the match. “It was one pass, the ball behind us. We didn’t shape ourselves right, and she went in and scored. I think after that, we brought some different players on, we gave some different run outs, but we quit passing the ball, and if you don’t pass the ball against Portland, and it turns into physical battles, and winning first and second balls, they’re going to be very good at that.”
Katie Johnson had a late shot to equalize the match in the 90th minute, but Franch came up with the save. The loss puts the Red Stars on just one point through two group stage matches. The Thorns sit on top of Group B with six points.
Next up, the Red Stars host Kansas City on Tuesday, April 20 at SeatGeek Stadium. Dames said he’s hoping Mal Pugh is healthy enough for a run out in that match, which could help the team’s current goal scoring woes.
CHI: GK Miller, D Krueger, D Gorden, D Milazzo (Johnson 70’), D Wright, M Colaprico (Stanton 79’), M Gautrat , M DiBernardo (Stevens 79’), M Woldmoe (Hill 70’) F Watt, F Doniak (Luebbert 56’)
POR: GK Franch, D Pogarch, D Hubly, D Kuikka, D Westphal (Menges 70’), M Klingenberg, M Rodriguez (Salem 45’), M Boureille, F Weaver, F Everett (Nally 82’), F Lussi