We eventually got a game Wednesday night, after an hour and fifty minute rain and lightning delay, the North Carolina Courage beat the Chicago Red Stars 4-1. The goal scoring started in the 20th minute off of a fantastic run and goal from Crystal Dunn, her sixth of the season. Jess McDonald was able to win the ball in the midfield, she then passed to Dunn, who was able to make the run forward and strike the ball with her left foot just outside the 18-yard box and slotted it home in the bottom right hand corner.
This was also a game of missed chances for Sam Kerr. She had a chance very early on in the game that was shot right at the goalkeeper. Then later on, she was in one-on-one with goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, and blasted it off of the top of the crossbar. Kerr would finish the game with six shots, but only one being on target. For whatever reason, the shots that seemed to go in at will for Sam Kerr last season, just aren't doing the same for her this season.
The game went into halftime with North Carolina looking the better side, but Chicago still having a chance to win this one. This all changed however in a two minute span thanks to two Courage goals scored first by Lynn Williams, and then by Debinha. The first goal came as North Carolina regained possession and was able to work the ball to the right side and Merritt Mathias then crossed the ball into the box. The ball fell to Lynn Williams who was able to stroke the ball with her right foot and bang it in off of the crossbar. This was then followed up just two minutes later with another North Carolina goal. Literally seconds after coming on as a substitute, Sam Mewis played a beautiful, long, line-splitting ball from the center circle in the attacking half on her left foot right to the on-running Debinha who was able to tuck the shot away past Alyssa Naeher to make it 3-0. This was pretty much the final nail in the coffin for Chicago in this game. There were two more goals scored later on as Kristen Hamilton was able to head home a Lynn Williams cross after Alyssa Naeher and Brooke Elby collided in the Chicago box. Then in second half stoppage time, Abby Dahlkemper blatantly took out Yuki Nagasato in the box, giving the Red Stars a penalty, which Nagasato converted herself to give us our 4-1 final score.
Despite the score, this was actually a much more even game. While North Carolina did outshoot Chicago, they only had three more shots on target. Total passes, passing percentage, and possession were also all very similar. Chicago even won more duels than North Carolina, 53-40. The really telling stat though was clearances. Chicago had 32 clearances to North Carolina's 13. This shows that while they did not record a lot more shots, the Courage were able to put much more pressure on in the opposing team's box than the Red Stars were.
One last note to make about this game was that Heather O'Reilly made her return to NWSL play and made her courage debut wednesday night, coming on as a substitute for Debinha in the 75th minute.
It's a short turnaround for Chicago as they have to go on the road once again as they play Sky Blue FC in New Jersey, this Saturday at 7:00 PM EST. North Carolina however, don't play again until next Wednesday at 7:00 PM vs the Washington Spirit at home. both matches can be streamed on go90.com, as well as the go90 app.