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Leon tally not enough, as Kerr bags equalizer before the break

By Gunnar Berndt

Lisle, Ill. – The Chicago Red Stars drew 1-1 with visiting Sky Blue FC on Wednesday afternoon, Canadian international Adriana Leon giving the home side the lead and Australia star Samantha Kerr leveling the match before halftime. The tightly contested affair saw the away team continue its current surge, as Sky Blue FC has been much improved since the return of its 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup players and previously defeated Houston Dash 2-0 on the road. Meanwhile, the Red Stars struggled to create clear-cut chances against a well-organized opposition squad.

The hosts created three consecutive close looks within a two-minute span early in the game. First, U.S. standout Christen Press’ 11th-minute chip into the box from the left was met by the foot of the outstretched Leon, who was unable to redirect it on frame. Then midfielder Danielle Colaprico smashed a rocket off the crossbar from just outside the area, followed by an Arin Gilliland cross from the left flank that found Vanessa DiBernardo, whose header from the doorstep whizzed just over frame.

Chicago did grab the lead at the quarter-hour mark, Gilliland finding herself with the ball on the left side of the box and sliding a perfect ball to the unmarked Leon at the far post for a simple tap-in. Sky Blue FC nearly had an instant response, as Katy Freels put Nadia Nadim through on the left and the Red Stars backline was fortunate to see the Danish sniper’s mishit attempt fly across the goal and wide.

It would be the home side back on the attack halfway through the opening period, Gilliland coming within inches of bagging what would have been a rather fortunate goal. The outside back flew up the wing once more and looked to send one of her trademark left-footed crosses into the box, but the ball had other plans as it bounced off the near post and out for a goal kick.

Sky Blue FC bagged the equalizer out of nowhere in the 36th minute of play. Chicago and U.S. defender Julie Johnston lost the ball in midfield and Kerr blasted past one opposition player before finding a shooting lane between two more Red Stars players, her low drive from the top of the box leaving goalkeeper Michelle Dalton without a chance on its way inside the right post.

In a relatively uneventful second half, the visitors nearly jumped out on top when Hayley Haagsma made a near-post run to meet Kelley O’Hara’s 49th-minute corner kick from the right, the snap-header being cleared off the line by a well-positioned Leon at the left post. The hosts dodged another bullet shortly after the hour mark, Kerr receiving the ball in midfield and sprinting past a surprised Chicago defense and all the way up the field for a one-on-one with Dalton, only to gift the Chicago goalkeeper an easy safe courtesy of her harmless roller.

The Red Stars finally created another dangerous chance of their own in the 69th minute, as Christen Press released Jen Hoy down the left and the forward centered to substitute Alyssa Mautz, whose first time effort whistled narrowly wide of the left upright.

After Sky Blue FC’s Jonelle Filigno was shown a yellow card for using her hand to redirect a cross into the Chicago net, the visitors created two more legitimate opportunities. After desperate defending prevented midfielder O’Hara from sending her close-range header on frame following a long free-kick by Christie Rampone, O’Hara came close again as she had her side’s third and final mishit finish from a promising position. Kerr had driven to the endline on the right and centered to the 27-year-old, whose swing and near-miss from close range had netminder Dalton breathing a sigh of relief.

The Chicago Red Stars look to get back on track in an NWSL blockbuster clash this coming Sunday, August 12, as they welcome league goal-scoring leader Crystal Dunn and fellow title contenders Washington Spirit to Benedictine University in Lisle. Tickets for the 2015 Red Stars campaign may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 773-698-6001.

Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC 1-1
Venue: Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, Lisle, IL
Scheduled kickoff time: 1 p.m. CT

Red Stars starting lineup:
Dalton, Gilliland, Johnston, Johnson, Quon, Colaprico, Chalupny, DiBernardo, Hoy, Leon, Press

Sky Blue FC starting lineup:
Cameron, Rampone, Foord, Haagsma, Cutshall, O’Hara, Levin, Lytle, Freels, Kerr, Nadim

Goals:
Leon CRS 15’ (Gilliland)
Kerr SBFC 36’

Cautions/Ejections:
Johnson CRS 53’ (defensive handling)
Chalupny CRS 65’ (defensive handling)

Red Stars substitutions:
Lomnicki in for Gilliland 46’
Mautz in for Leon 69’
Huerta in for Chalupny 81’

Sky Blue FC substitutions:
Killion in for Lytle 56’
Stanton in for Haagsma 77’
Filigno in for Nadim 84’

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