Seattle, WA – Penalty kicks would mark the difference between the Chicago Red Stars and Seattle Reign FC in their first meeting of the season as #1 ranked, and undefeated, Seattle scored two and went on to defeat #2 ranked Chicago 3-1 in Seattle. All goals were scored in the second half of play, starting with Emily Van Egmond in the 63rd, then 3 from Seattle including 2 penalty kicks by Kim Little sandwiched by a long-range blast from Sydney Leroux. Chicago drops to 4th at 6-4-2, 19 pts, while the Reign improve to 9-0-2, 29 pts.
“I’m proud of the effort of the group,” said Head Coach Rory Dames. “We did what we wanted to do right up until we scored the first goal. We had the more dangerous chances in the first half and then after that first penalty call, it changed the whole game.”
An exciting first half of action ended with the teams knotted scoreless at 0-0. The Red Stars had the better of the first part of the half, while Seattle picked up steam heading towards the half.
The Red Stars started the game with high pressure, earning two corner kicks in the first 3 minutes of the match. In the 17th minute, Mautz headed a cross on the back-post but Solo made the first of several great saves to block the midfielder from scoring. Reign midfielders Jess Fishlock and Kim Little caused trouble of their own in the 19th and 21st minutes, with Fishlock having two dangerous crosses in the box, the second of which was headed by Little. Then Little had her best look of the game in the 24th minute with a quick 18-yard turnaround blast, but LeBlanc was up to task making a leaping save.
Back on the other end in the 25th minute, Lori Chalupny was taken down on the edge of the box, earning a dangerous free kick opportunity for the Red Stars.
A goal flurry came during the 60th minutes, starting with a Red Stars corner kick in the 63rd. The ball bounced back out to Vanessa DiBernardo who played a long cross towards Michelle Wenino. Wenino put it towards goal where Australian international Emily Van Egmond headed it home for her first goal of the season in her first Red Stars match. The Red Stars lead would be short-lived however, as Seattle came storming back and leveled off a penalty kick taken by Little in the 66th. This was after Beverly Goebel broke through the Red Stars back line and was clipped by Julie Johnston. Just 3 minutes later, Sydney Leroux set herself up for a long blast from the left corner of the 18-yard box and LeBlanc had little chance to make the save as it shot into the top of the net.
The Reign would add a dagger when they earned yet another penalty kick after second-half sub Taryn Hemmings jumped to win a header against LeRoux, who was knocked to the ground from behind by the leaping Hemmings. Little would step again to slot away the penalty kick in the 77th minute. The Red Stars put heavy pressure on Seattle at the end of the match, earning great looks from second-half substitute Jen Hoy, but Seattle’s defense held steady.
“It’s too much to ask a team to play on Wednesday then turn around and travel to play on Saturday, while your opponent has a week’s rest,” Dames stated post-match, noting the short turnaround time many teams have during the grueling NWSL season.
The Red Stars have a week off before returning home on Fathers Day, Sunday, June 15 at 1 p.m. CT against Sky Blue FC, followed by a Chicago Red Stars Reserves match at 4 p.m. vs. Des Moines Menace. The Red Stars have 1 win and 1 draw against Sky Blue this season, both matches having taken place in New Jersey. All dads get in free Sunday to both matches with an accompanying paid ticket and one paid ticket is good for both matches. For tickets, visit chicagoredstars.com/tickets/ or call 773-697-8699.