Dispatch: Chicago Red Stars (3) vs. Seattle Reign FC (2)
It was a chilly night that just kept getting colder as the sun set in Lisle Saturday night. The Red Stars were set to welcome Megan Rapinoe and Seattle Reign FC for the first match in Chicago’s 2015 campaign. It felt like a quiet night at the start, but as soon as the cobwebs fell off, it quickly turned into a shootout.
The first 30 minutes were mostly in the midfield with no real chances at either end, but shortly after, the game opened up in a big way. Seattle hit the scoreboard in the 31st minute first with Rapinoe sending in a corner that Chicago keeper Karina LeBlanc would see sail past her fingers (unfortunately a theme on the night) and would then be directed in by Beverly Yanez. The Red Stars answered almost instantly when Christen Press was fed after a strong run and the shot was slotted coolly past Hope Solo in the Seattle box for the equalizer.
Only a few minutes later, Press continued her streak of excellent play by picking up the ball on the left and sending a perfect cross into the 6-yard box over Solo that striker Jen Hoy easily sent to the back of the net, putting the Red Stars up 2-1. The half wasn’t over however and the Reign would have another corner that would lead to their second of the night, again due to a miscue from LeBlanc. The second involved another Rapinoe corner sent into the box which was sent back out by the defense, but the return ball saw LeBlanc in No Man’s Land again, and Seattle’s Kendall Fletcher easily nodded in the equalizer in the 39th minute.
The second half led to some extremely timid offensive play with Press getting through on goal twice only to send the ball back on questionable passes that led that majority of the Chicago fans in the stands to start yelling for a shot. Shortly after that, LeBlanc and Solo both came up with impressive saves that kept the scoreline even at 2-2 until stoppage time. The biggest highlight of the first 45 minutes of the second half was the supposed middle finger from Hope Solo to the supporters of Chicago Local 134 behind her net. There isn’t a clear picture of it, so here’s the shot from the broadcast, and I’ll let you make your own decision.
At the 90th minute, everything appeared to be headed for a draw, but as the fans started heading out (I’ll never understand leaving before the final whistle), Christen Press had one final breakaway down the right side. She slipped behind the defense and caught the through ball behind the final defender. This time, she made no mistake and powered the winner to the left of Solo to send the remaining crowd into a frenzy.
I’ll keep it short. The Red Stars need to work on set pieces, set pieces and more set pieces. Both goals allowed were on shoddy defending during corners and multiple chances were wasted on the other end with the Red Stars sending corners over the entire 18-yard box to be collected on the other end. Between that and the fear of taking a shot that Press maintained for about 30 minutes in the second half, Chicago have the chance to make a few minor improvements and make a run at the title. The game could’ve easily ended 5-0 if not for those issues.
The Red Stars are in action again next Saturday against Alex Morgan and the Portland Thorns in Lisle next Saturday.