Things started off well for the Portland Thorns as they took on the Chicago Red Stars at Jeld-Wen Field today. The Thorns lept forward out of the gate, immediately pushing down the pitch and trapping the Red Stars in their own half. Thanks to a high defensive line, the Thorns continuously disrupted the Red Stars attack and kept the pressure on the visiting side for the first half hour of the match.
It was not to last, however, as the Red Stars finally managed to break down the pitch in the 34th minute and earn a corner. The ensuing ball was well placed at the back post where it was met by Red Stars defender Michelle Wenino and headed back across the net to a wide open Zakiya Bywaters who calmly nodded the ball home to put Chicago up 1-0.
The momentum change after the goal was astounding. The Red Stars were visibly encouraged and redoubled their efforts on the pitch, while the Thorns seemed stunned, a posture they were not able to shake off for the remainder of the match.
For the rest of the game the Thorns found themselves in a back and forth battle against a team more physically prepared for the level of contact the (much reviled) referee would allow. The game moved from a possession battle to a series of long balls played by each team, neither really controlling the match. The Thorns found themselves unable to break through the Red Stars back line as they were often let down by their passing accuracy and off ball movement, only forcing one save from the Chicago keeper in the second half.
The Red Stars scored their insurance goal in the 61st minute thanks to low cross that skipped through the box and fell to Jackie Santacaterina, who knocked the ball home to make the score 2-0.