Portland, Ore. – The Red Stars put in a gritty performance in their only nationally televised game on FOX Soccer when they took on Portland Thorns FC Sunday at Jeld-Wen Field in front of 12,534 in attendance. In a physical battle that saw Red Stars captain Lori Chalupny injured on a hard foul early in the game, the Red Stars would end up trailing 3-1 during the match. But the determined Red Stars grinded themselves back into the game with late goals by Alyssa Mautz (her second of the game) and Julianne Sitch. The Thorns were led by a two-goal performance from Christine Sinclair and an additional goal from Mana Shim.
The Thorns applied heavy pressure early and had several looks in the first 10 minutes, including a dangerous free kick at the edge of the 18-yard box, after Chicago was called for a foul. Red Stars ‘keeper Erin McLeod would come up big on many occasions during the game, including making a massive save off Tobin Heath by blocking it with her face.
Red Stars’ Lori Chalupny was on the run down the middle of the field when Heath derailed her from behind, earning Heath a yellow card and sending Chalupny off the field with an undisclosed ankle injured. Alyssa Mautz would check into the match in the 18th minute for the injured captain Chalupny.
In the 23rd minute, Thorns would earn yet another free kick from a foul. Heath chipped the ball towards goal to find Canadian international Sinclair running on and she was able to one-touch it towards the left side of the net, putting Portland on top 1-0.
The match would continue to be extremely physical the rest of the first half, including a yellow card for Mautz after going in strong on a header in the 42nd minute. Adriana Leon would earn herself a yellow card at minute 45 for interference on a Thorns free-kick.
The second half would start out much the way the first half left off, when Leslie Osborne earned an early yellow card in the 48th minute. The Red Stars got into the Thorns defensive end early, but Sinclair broke away and got past McLeod who had come off her line. Sinclair was staring at an open-goal but delayed and sent her shot into the side netting. Just a few minutes later the Thorns would find their second goal though when a cross would deflect to Mana Shim, who put the Thorns up 2-0 in the 55th minute.
The Red Stars, not backing down, wiped away the Thorns clean-sheet when Mautz blasted a goal from near the 18-yard line just 5 minutes later. But Sinclair would get a second chance at goal and this time made no mistake in getting past McLeod an sending the ball in, putting Thorns back up by 2 goals in the 63rd.
In what continued to be a back-and-forth match, Red Stars defender Rachel Quon pinpointed Mautz with a pass towards the back post, and Mautz would tally her second goal of the night, heading it past Leblanc and cutting the lead down to 1 again.
The Red Stars would go all out in the 85th, subbing on offensive-threat Maribel Dominguez for defender Lydia Vandenbergh. and it would pay off. The Red Stars tied the game in the 86th minute when midfielder Julianne Sitch lobbed a ball over Leblanc.
“Our players continue to find ways to compete and stick together as a team,” said Head Coach Rory Dames after the match. “On paper this should not have been a game, but on the field heart counts.”
The Red Stars return home for a rematch with Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, August 3, 6 p.m. CT at Village of Lisle – Benedictine University Sports Complex. It will be the second-to-last home game for the Red Stars this season, with the finale coming on August 10 v Sky Blue FC. Tickets are available for both matches at chicagoredstars.com.