The Chicago Red Stars extended their unbeaten streak in the National Women's Soccer League to five games after a 1-0 home victory over the Seattle Reign. The win means that the Red Stars stay undefeated at home against the Reign all-time, and they also became only the second team to shut out Seattle this year.
It was Christen Press' goal, assisted by Sofia Huerta, early in the second half that gave the Red Stars the victory in what was a strong performance.
Entertaining but scoreless first half
Fans were treated to an exciting, end-to-end first half where both teams looked dangerous going forward.
The Reign settled the quicker, and they had the first chance when Nahomi Kawasumi chipped a pass in towards Katie Johnson, but it was gobbled up by Alyssa Naeher in the Red Stars goal.
Johnson was causing trouble in the box again minutes later as she got a touch on a dangerous driven ball, but it wasn't enough to beat Naeher from close range.
After this though it was the home side who were dominant, in part thanks to the Reign's passive defence.
Their first chance came from Vanessa DiBernardo, as she wasn't closed down at all on the edge of the area, and she tried to recreate her Goal of the Week nominee from last week but the left-footed strike was well dealt with by Haley Kopmeyer.
The next chance came when a deep cross found Casey Short open at the back post but she elected to nod it back into the box rather than to goal, and none of her teammates were running in. Moments later DiBernardo had two chances, the first was blocked and the second looked like a wild effort, but it dipped and only just missed the goal by a foot or two over.
Kopmeyer in the Seattle goal was putting on a display of class goalkeeping throughout the game, her first truly world class coming from a Press rocket that she palmed onto the post and away.
Throughout the half, the Reign looked most dangerous on the counter-attack, but they didn't really trouble Naeher.
One real bright spot for Chicago was Taylor Comeau, who did an excellent job filling in for the injured Arin Gilliland, in her new position of outside back.
Press scores early
The second half continued with Kopmeyer being called into action; first, a cross from Short was cleared only as far as Danielle Colaprico, who hit a rocket goalwards but Kopmeyer came up with another massive save. Press knocked the rebound into the goal but the flag was up for offside.
Press wasn't to be denied for long however, as she scored just a minute later.
Huerta found space down the left and cut the ball back into the six-yard box, and Press beat the defender to score with her left-foot into the side netting.
Despite having only 43% possession on the night, the Red Stars outshot the Reign by an impressive 19-6.
They had plenty of chances to put the game to bed late on, most notably as Huerta beat the offside trap and ran through one v one, but Lauren Barnes made a lung-busting run to get back and do just enough to force the shot wide.
Press also showed her skill, blazing past Rachel Corsie and smashing a left-footed shot towards the bottom corner, but again Kopmeyer pulled off a wonderful save and Huerta, from a tight angle, could only hit the post on the rebound.
Chicago Red Stars continue hot streak
With the win tonight, the Red Stars have moved up to second place in the table, sitting two points behind the North Carolina Courage, with a game in had.
They'll have to wait for the chance to climb the ladder again however, as there is no league action next week due to the international fixtures.