Portland Thorns Draw in Chicago to Remain Unbeaten
Three NWSL women’s soccer matches ends in a draw this weekend— a sign of a well balanced league – Besides PORTLAND THORNS ending in a draw with CHICAGO RED STARS, KANSAS CITY also tied with SKY BLUE FC as well as BOSTON BREAKERS with WASHINGTON SPIRIT. When games end in a draw after a fierce match on the field it is great for soccer fans, players and coaches alike. A real challenge materializes when leagues offer great competition. Thank you — again — NWSL.
Women’s Soccer News: In a battle between two of the top teams in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns FC played to a just 1-1 draw on Sunday evening. While Chicago was able to extend its current unbeaten run to seven games, Portland remains undefeated on the season, a total of eight matches. The visitors from Oregon grabbed the lead in the first half, courtesy of Canada legend Christine Sinclair opening her 2016 account, followed by Christen Press’ fourth of the season to tie things up after the break.
The day’s first noteworthy chance came just after the quarter-hour mark, Thorns FC attacker Nadia Nadim driving in a low cross from the right that was hit first-time by Portland captain Sinclair from inside the area. Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher barely managed to get her body behind the ball and breathed a sigh of relief as it trickled along the goal line before being touched behind by an opposition player.
Sinclair did open the scoring on a Samantha Johnson backpass in the 24th minute, reaping the rewards of the intense pressure she put on Naeher, whose attempted clearance bounced off the 32-year-old forward and into the back of the net. The home side nearly leveled the match eight minutes later, Vanessa DiBernardo swinging in a corner kick from the right that found the head of Casey Short. The Chicago native popped the ball up to Amanda DaCosta, who was facing away from goal inside the five-yard box and produced a beautiful bicycle kick that was blocked point-blank by netminder Adriana Franch.
Portland had a great look of its own the the 36th minute, as league assists leader Tobin Heath sent a pinpoint-accurate cross into the area from the left wing that was nodded just over the frame by Iceland standout Dagny Brynjarsdottir. The two teams continued to go back and forth, as the Red Stars’ Short headed just wide at the other end moments from the halftime whistle, making contact with one of several excellent DiBernardo services from the right flank.
After the break, outside back Short remained active on offense, and she would be involved in her side’s equalizer, sending a long ball to edge of the penalty area just after the hour mark. Substitute Alyssa Mautz displayed excellent awareness in between opposition defenders, as she chested the ball down and into the path of Press, who saw her first-time hit touch off the fingertips of the fully extended Franch and bounce off the underside off the crossbar. Despite the Thorns FC goalkeeper’s best efforts to hustle back and scrape the ball out of danger, she was unable to do so before it crossed the line.
With the two foes fighting tooth-and-nail for the remainder of the match, the fans at Toyota Park witnessed little of significance, besides a flurry of yellow cards between the 74th and 88th minutes of play, the Red Stars picking up three and their opponents going into the book once. In the end, the teams settled for a hard-fought draw that should make for a fascinating rematch in Portland on June 22.
Before traveling to the Pacific Northwest, Chicago looks to make it eight unbeaten and climb into first place with a win over visiting Boston Breakers on Saturday, June 18.
Source/Photo Credit: Chicago Red Stars