Piscataway, NJ – With the fourth road game in a row for the Red Stars it would have been expected for the team to come into the match with heavy legs, but there would be no excuses for Chicago as they blasted out of the gates with a strong and dominating first half performance against Sky Blue FC. Two first half Red Stars goals were scored by midfielder Adriana Leon in the 27th and fellow mid and team captain Lori Chalupny, with the assist from Leon, in the 35th.
“It’s not easy to get points on the road in this league,” said Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames. “The players have done well and we’ll continue to train hard, clean up some details, and work on getting better.”
The beginning of the match was a relatively even back-and-forth affair, before the Red Stars were able to take control towards the second part of the first half. Sky Blue FC (2-4-4, 10pts) was coming off a big 1-0 road victory in Portland Saturday.
Adriana Leon opened the Red Stars bank with a 27th minute short blast from the right side of goal, after the hard work of Jen Hoy to break through the Sky Blue defense. Hoy was smothered right in front of goal but Leon was there to grab the ball, take a short touch and send the Red Stars up 1-0. Chalupny would double the scoreline in the 35th after beautiful combination play where rookie defender Kecia Morway broke up the left sideline and put in a lobbed cross that Leon volleyed off to Chalupny who blasted away the shot with a one-time touch.
Sky Blue came out with more attacking prowess to start the second half, including a couple long right-sided blasts from USWNT player Kelley O’Hara, but Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc was up to task and held on for her 3rd shutout of the year.
Forward Jen Hoy, who has scored in each of the Red Stars last 4 victories, nearly found her 5th in a row late in the 2nd half when she picked off an errant back-pass from a Sky Blue defender. Facing goalkeeper Jillian Loyden, who was well out of goal on the left side, Hoy took a touch around and saw a fairly open net, but put too much on the shot that sailed wide.
With the win the Red Stars improve to 6-2-1, 19 pts, and remain in 2nd place, just 4 points behind undefeated league leaders Seattle. The Red Stars have won 5 in a row, and undefeated in 6, including 4 road wins in a row. During this win-streak the team has outscored opponents 13-4.
“We have yet to put together a complete 90-minute performance,” said Chalupny. “But there were moments of really good soccer today including our backs getting another shutout.”
“Our backline has really played together and KK (goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc) has done really well for us. And I thought our movement up-top in the first 45 (minutes) was the best it has been all season.”
The Red Stars finally return home for a match-up next Wednesday, June 4 against Washington Spirit in what will be Pride Night. It will mark the second meeting between the two teams in Chicago this season. Washington took the first round with a 1-0 victory on April 26. For tickets, visit chicagoredstars.com/tickets/ or call 773-697-8699.