SEATTLE -- The Chicago Red Stars pulled off one of their classic come-from-behind efforts in tying Seattle Reign FC late in the game with an 82nd minute Christen Press goal assisted by Jen Hoy. Chicago had gone down a goal in the 70th minute when Kendall Fletcher played a pass off to Beverly Goebel at close-range. With tonight's tie, the two teams have gone level in this season's series at 1-1-1.
"We've played five games in 17 days against Seattle and Portland and fought back from deficits in both of them," said coach Rory Dames. "I'm very proud of the group's performance over this extremely difficult stretch."
Seattle came out blazing from the kickoff, putting on heavy offensive pressure and earning many looks at goal in the first 20 minutes. They were also the beneficiaries of several early corner kicks in the opening minutes, but the Red Stars defense was up to task. Both teams entered the match with the lowest goals-against average in the league with Seattle at 14 and Chicago at 19.
The Red Stars settled in and turned the tide during the next 25 minutes including a great look in the 33rd minute when defender Michelle Wenino pushed upfield and put off a perfect cross from right-to-left to find the head of forward Press. Unfortunately the header of Press fell wide off-target.
Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc was called on and came up big in the 43rd to keep Seattle scoreless in the half when she saved two shots from point-blank range off the right post. Both teams ended the first-half scoreless after a relatively even battle.
The second half started out without any major chances but Seattle would finally strike first when substitute Sydney Leroux earned the ball on the left endline. She played a perfect short ball across goal to Kendall Fletcher who in turn played it off to substitute Beverly Goebel, who had no trouble earning the goal from short-range in the 70th minute.
The Red Stars brought on several pairs of fresh legs, adding Vanessa DiBernardo, Taryn Hemmings and Jen Hoy by the 75th minute, in an effort to find some more firepower down the stretch. It would be sub Hoy who broke free in the 82nd minute with a clear look on goal. Unselfishly she put a pass across goal to fellow-forward Press who took a little touch to fake-out Reign FC keeper Hope Solo and provide herself an open net from the left side. Her finish put the Red Stars level with the Reign and that score would hold-out through regulation.
Seattle is still comfortably ahead of the league pack and guaranteed a playoff spot. The Red Stars are sitting tied with Washington Spirit, but have dropped 2 matches to the Spirit this season, so are currently in the 5th spot, just outside the coveted four playoff positions, with just 5 matches remaining in the NWSL regular season.
"We have a lot of work to do in the last five games, but we're really starting to come together after the infusion of new players," Dames went on.
Next up, the Red Stars return home to take on the Houston Dash Saturday, July 26 for a 1 p.m. kickoff. This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season.