Chicago’s unbeaten run snapped despite promising showing away from home

By Gunnar Berndt

Portland, Ore. – The Chicago Red Stars failed to hold on to the top spot in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) standings on Wednesday evening, falling 2-0 to hosts and new first-place side Portland Thorns FC, which emerged victorious courtesy of first-half goals by Christine Sinclair and Nadia Nadim. Despite having been unable to train all of this week due to the quick turnaround following Saturday’s home win over Boston, the Red Stars put up a promising display against their star-studded opposition but failed to convert on any of their several quality looks.

After a tightly contested opening five minutes, Thorns FC pounced on its very first opportunity, which came as a result of an uncharacteristic mistake by Chicago defender Julie Johnston. Pressured by fellow U.S. ace Tobin Heath while facing her own goal, the 24-year-old attempted to escape by turning toward the right post and thereby laid the pall right into the path of Canada legend Sinclair, who had a simple finish for her second goal in as many meetings with the Red Stars this season.

The home team could have doubled its lead in just the ninth minute of play, as Heath swung in a corner kick from the left that was flicked on by Emily Sonnett and tapped just over the bar by French international and NWSL debutant Amandine Henry. Mere moments later, in-form Red Stars striker Sofia Huerta very nearly bagged her fourth tally of the year when she was put in one-on-one by a beautiful Alyssa Mautz through-ball, her toe poke past onrushing goalkeeper Michelle Betos bouncing off the inside of the left upright.

Having grabbed the lead on a defensive error, Thorns FC almost gifted their opponents a goal back halfway through the opening period. Sonnett’s attempted clearance out of danger saw her hit the ball awkwardly into the feet of a well-positioned Amanda DaCosta, who struck it first-time from just right of center and saw it roll narrowly past the far post. Second-year pro Huerta then had yet another close look for the Red Stars moments from the half-hour mark, but her right-footed curler sailed just wide of the goal.

Portland’s Sinclair created a quality chance of her own in the 60th minute, as she did well to take down a long ball inside the box, only to see her thunderous half-volley shake the outside of the net. The fans at Providence Park subsequently had to wait until ten minutes from regulation time for the next noteworthy action, which came at the other end and in the form of a low Danielle Colaprico shot from the top of the box that whistled just wide right.

Chicago had one more promising attack deep inside stoppage time, NWSL goal-scoring leader Christen Press doing well to apply pressure on a bouncing ball back to Thorns FC netminder Betos, who breathed a sigh of relief as her miscommunication with Sonnett remained without consequence. While managing to threaten the goal with an alert toe-poke, Press was unable to get the effort past Betos, who stood tall at the edge of the penalty area and made the block.

Portland should have had three moments from the final whistle, as two substitutes combined for an agonizing miss at the other end. Hayley Raso exploded down the left side and into the box before sending a picture-perfect pass across the goal-line that found the foot of fellow attacker Mallory Weber, who inexplicably pushed it wide right from the doorstep.

It would be the final dangerous opportunity of a night that saw Thorns FC remain undefeated on the season and the Red Stars fail to extend their own unbeaten run to nine matches. After three more road fixtures, the first coming on July 1 against Western New York Flash, Chicago returns home to take on Houston Dash on July 23. Individual and season tickets for the club’s 2016 campaign at Toyota Park in Bridgeview may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 773-697-8699.

NWSL Match Report
Match: Chicago Red Stars at Portland Thorns FC 0-2
Date: June 22, 2016
Venue: Providence Park; Portland, Ore..
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT (9 p.m. ET)
Attendance: 16.931

Scoring Summary:

  1 2 T
POR 2 0 2
CHI 0 0 0

POR – Christine Sinclair 6’
POR – Nadia Nadim 25’ (Amandine Henry)

Lineups:

POR: 18-Michelle Betos Goalkeeper; 2-Katherin Reynolds Right Back, 16-Emily Sonnett Center Back, 4-Emily Menges Center Back, 25-Meghan Klingenberg Left Back; 9-Nadia Nadim Right Midfielder (26-Mallory Weber Substitute, 79’), 10-Allie Long Midfielder, 7-Lindsey Horan Midfielder, 28-Amandine Henry Midfielder (11-Dagny Brynjarsdottir Substitute, 69’); 17-Tobin Heath Midfielder; 12-Christine Sinclair Forward [capt. (21-Hayley Raso Substitute, 85’)] Subs not used: 24-Adrianna Franch Goalkeeper, 20-McKenzie Berryhill Substitute, 6-Mana Shim Substitute, 30-Celeste Boureille Substitute
Head Coach: Mark Parsons

CHI: 1-Alyssa Naeher Goalkeeper; 3-Arin Gilliland Right Back, 8-Julie Johnston Center Back, 16-Samantha Johnson Center Back, 6-Casey Short Left Back (5-Katie Naughton Substitute, 81’); 4-Alyssa Mautz Right Midfielder (2-Jen Hoy Substitute, 71’), 10-Vanessa DiBernardo Midfielder, 24-Danielle Colaprico Midfielder, 13-Amanda DaCosta Left Midfielder (7-Taylor Comeau Substitute, 62’); 11-Sofia Huerta Forward, 23-Christen Press Forward (capt.)
Subs not used: 18-Michele Dalton Goalkeeper, 14-Sarah Gorden Substitute, 15-Courtney Raetzman Substitute, 12-Cara Walls Substitute
Head Coach: Rory Dames

Stats Summary: POR / CHI
Shots: 13 / 14
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 6 / 4
Fouls: 12 / 9
Offside: 0 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee: Chipalo Street
Assistant Referee 1: Christopher Elliott
Assistant Referee 2: J.J. Blodgett
Fourth Official: Andrew Brooks

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