Penalty kicks would determine the night for the Red Stars and Thorns, who were meeting for the second time in six days Wednesday.
It also would be the second tie, this time 1-1, between the two teams after a 2-2 result Friday in Portland. The Thorns were helped in the first half after a 27th minute penalty was issued from a foul and Allie Long put it away. The Red Stars earned a handball in the 86th minute that Emily Van Egmond sent home for the late tie.
"The first half tonight is the best we've played all year," said Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames. "We were unlucky not to take 3 points tonight. We didn't give away a lot of chances."
The Red Stars featured another familiar face tonight as veteran U.S. Women's National Team midfielder Shannon Boxx made her season debut starting and logging 41 minutes for the Red Stars after sitting out much of the beginning of the season after giving birth to a baby daughter.
"It's taken some time to come back, but I feel great," said Boxx. "We knew I didn't want to take it too long tonight being my first game back."
The Red Stars best early chance was when captain Lori Chalupny took a touch to her left foot and hooked an in-swinger toward the far post that just narrowly missed in the 14th minute. Chicago pressed the Portland back line and looked for several long balls, but were caught offside on a few occasions.
In the 27th minute, the Thorns were the recipients of what looked to be a generous penalty call. Christen Press came out to defend Vero Boquete, who had her back to goal near the edge of the box on a Thorns corner kick. Boquete fell backward as Press won the ball and Press was harshly called for the foul, resulting in a Thorns penalty opportunity. Allie Long stepped up to take the kick and slotted it away as LeBlanc guessed the wrong direction. That goal would be good enough to put the Thorns ahead going into halftime.
With their never-say-die attitude the Red Stars pushed on through the second half and finally had a breakthrough in the 86th minute when Julie Johnston played a short ball into Press in the box. Press touched the ball upward and it was handled by Thorns defender Nikki Marshall, earning the Red Stars a penalty kick. Australian midfielder Van Egmond blasted her penalty into the right corner, giving the Red Stars a 1-1 tie.
"No matter what the score line is, we believe we can come back," stated Press.
The Red Stars are sitting just outside playoff position with the Thorns, just a point behind 4th place Washington, during this crucial month. The next two matches will continue to be a battle for the Red Stars, as they both fall in the next 8 days during this three-game homestand. Next up is league-leaders Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, July 12 at 7 p.m., featuring U.S. Women's National Team stars Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Sydney Leroux, followed by the final match of the Portland series on Thursday, July 17, at 7 p.m., in an important tiebreaker game.