Portland, Ore. – The Red Stars were seeking their first win of the season and got it in high fashion with a 2-0 defeat of co-league leaders Portland Thorns (6-2-1, 19pts) in front of 12,446 fans at Jeld-Wen Field Saturday afternoon. Zakiya Bywaters scored in the first half for Chicago, while Jackie Santacaterina added one in the second half.
“(I’m) Extremely pleased with the effort and performance of the team, not just today but we’ve been gradually getting better,” said Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames. “It’s a very difficult environment to come in and play. It’s a great atmosphere if you’re the home team, but a bit difficult if you’re the away team.”
The first-half was a back and forth affair that only saw few chances from each side. The Red Stars earliest opportunity came in the 11th minute when defender Michelle Wenino got a cross off from the right side of the field that found the head of Ella Masar. Masar flicked it towards Grings who was heading to goal, but was called offside. Two minutes later the Thorns earned a freekick at the edge of the 18-yard box. The ball was floated towards a player charging the backpost but it flew just out of reach.
It would be a Red Stars corner kick that put the visiting team ahead when Lydia Vandenbergh targeted Wenino on the far post. She got the ball across the face of the goal to Bywaters who headed it home in the 35th minute.
The Red Stars came out blazing in the second half and nearly added to their lead on several occasions, including shots from recently added German international Inka Grings and team captain Lori Chalupny. Defensive midfielder Jackie Santacaterina snuck past her defender on the back post and bodied in a goal after Vandenbergh sent in a low cross in the 62nd minute, doubling the Red Stars lead in front of a hostile Portland crowd. Thorns assistant coach Galas was ejected in the 77th minute after having words with the center referee.
Chicago (1-4-2, 5pts) found their first win in spite of an adjusted roster due to the Canadian National Team call-ups of goalkeeper Erin McLeod, and defenders Carmelina Moscato and Rachel Quon. USWNT player Shannon Boxx is still out rehabbing from knee surgery, while Leslie Osborne travelled with the team but did not play after injuring her MCL several weeks ago. But in spite of the missing players, the Red Stars debuted their two international selections: Germans Sonja Fuss and Grings. Fuss slid into center back in her first match, while Grings, a natural goalscorer, was up top for Chicago. Both provided veteran leadership and experience for the team.
“We will get better in the next weeks,” said Fuss, modestly, who’s only trained for a week with the team. “It’s a new team so I have to get used to where people are going on the field.”
The Red Stars are heading home for their next two matches starting with the Boston Breakers on Sunday, June 9th, 3 p.m. and followed by FC Kansas City on Thursday, June 13th, 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available for both matches by visiting chicagoredstars.ticketfly.com or calling 773-697-8699.