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Striker’s standout play not enough as Thorns battle back from two goals down

Chicago, Illinois – The Chicago Red Stars battled league-leading Portland Thorns FC to a 2-2 draw on Saturday night. Reigning NWSL Player of the Week Christen Press bagged her second brace in as many 2015 regular season matches, but it wasn’t enough for all three points, as the visitors from Oregon stormed back on tallies by Christine Sinclair and Mana Shim on either side of the break.

The Red Stars picked up right where they had left off in the dramatic win over Seattle Reign FC, Press taking down a pinpoint-accurate long ball by Lori Chalupny before cutting to her right and sending a beautiful curler past the outstretched Nadine Angerer for the go-ahead goal in the fourth minute.

Another four minutes later, it was U.S. Women’s National Team star Press again, as she took a ball by midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, cut to her left and fired at goal from inside the box, her attempt taking a deflection off defender Courtney Niemiec and slipping underneath Angerer to make it 2-0.

Thorns FC nearly pulled one back in the 11th minute of play. Tobin Heath sprinted down the right flank and sent a dangerous cross into the area, only to see a wide-open Shim denied by Karina LeBlanc’s spectacular kick-save. The rebound fell straight to Portland’s Taylor Comeau, whose short-range blast was heroically headed off the line by Chicago defender Julie Johnston.

The Red Stars nearly punished their opponents for the pair of missed chances when rookie Danielle Colaprico’s 15th-minute cross was nodded just over the bar by international legend Shannon Boxx. Three minutes later, Press narrowly missed out on a hat trick when she was played in by Chalupny and released a right-footed shot that was tipped around the far post by a diving Angerer.

Instead of adding a third, Chicago saw its lead cut to one just before the half-hour mark, Allie Long feeding Sinclair at the top of the box and the world-class striker firing through traffic for a well-placed effort inside the left post. The visitors nearly tied things up four minutes from the halftime whistle, as former Portland shot-stopper LeBlanc came up with a point-blank parry to keep out Sinclair’s toe-poke from close range.

Thorns FC did level the match early in the second half. Shim took advantage of some indecisive Red Stars defending, as she picked up a loose ball at the edge of the penalty area and found the inside of the far post with a left-footed drive. The hosts were lucky not to fall behind when Sinclair subsequently fed an unmarked Comeau inside the box and the California native leaned back for a mishit shot that sailed well over the frame.

Portland got even closer to grabbing the lead in the 74th minute, substitute Kendall Johnson finding Sinead Farrell and the midfielder’s delicate curler off the underside of the bar nearly crossing the line on its way down. Chicago defender Abby Erceg had the final close look of the match, as she got her head on a Vanessa DiBernardo free-kick and saw the ball parried wide by Angerer.

The Chicago Red Stars look to stay undefeated on the season when they host American legend Christie Rampone and Sky Blue FC on Saturday, May 2. Single-game and season tickets for the 2015 Red Stars campaign may be purchased by visiting clicking here or by calling 773-698-6001.

Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns FC 2-2
Venue: Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL.
Kickoff Time: 7.30 P.M. CT

Red Stars starting lineup:
LeBlanc, Gilliland, Erceg, Johnston, Hemmings, Boxx, Chalupny (C), DiBernardo, Colaprico, Hoy, Press

Portland starting lineup:
Angerer, Menges, Williamson (C), Niemiec, Comeau, Farrellly, Zerboni, Heath, Long, Shim, Sinclair

Goals:
Press CRS 4’ (Chalupny), Press CRS 8’ (DiBernardo), Sinclair PTFC 29’ (Long), Shim PTFC 47’

Cautions/Ejections: 
Julie Johnston CRS – Yellow (16’)

Red Stars Substitutions:
Huerta for Hoy (’63)
Walls for Colaprico (86’)

Portland Substitutions:
Johnson for Comeau (59’)
Jackson for Shim (90’)

Attendance: 2,136

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