Christen Press won and converted a second half penalty to snatch a 1-1 draw for the Red Stars against a Washington Spirit side that kept their hosts stymied for much of the afternoon at Toyota Park. The Spirit went to halftime with the lead on a goal by Francisca Ordega and appeared to have the Red Stars attack in check before a quick attack led to the game-tying penalty.
Red Stars defender Taylor Comeau was forced out of the match after the 2nd half hydration break after being in a collision with Kristie Mewis. Lifetime sideline reporter Dalen Cuff reported that Comeau was coughing blood and having difficulty breathing and was later taken to a local hospital for chest x-rays.
The match also featured the return of Spirit defender Caprice Dydasco who replaced Alyssa Kleiner during the 2nd half. It was Dydasco’s first match since tearing her ACL in the NWSL Championship last October.
The Red Stars opened the match on the front foot and forced Spirit keeper Steph Labbe into a pair of quality saves in the opening 5 minutes. First Danielle Colaprico beat Havana Solaun in midfield and took a shot from distance that Labbe was able to reach for and put just wide. The ensuing corner kick was played short and Colaprico dribbled unopposed into position to take another hard shot that Labbe pushed over the top.
The Spirit settled down though and rarely allowed the Red Stars much more in the way of clear scoring chances. Press played a deeper role than her usual and while she was effective on the ball, did not have enough possession in dangerous areas.
In the 42nd minute, the visitors found themselves a goal. Cheyna Williams was on the ball in her own half facing her own goal when she turned and made a brilliant pass that beat everyone but Ordega and the two Red Stars center backs. Sam Johnson misplayed it allowing Ordega to run on it, and an already cautioned Katie Naughton was loathe to give away too much as Ordega calmly dribbled into the box and beat Alyssa Naeher far post for the 1-0 halftime lead.
The Red Stars continued to struggle in the attack after halftime. One of the few times they stretched the Spirit defense, a Sofia Huerta cross found its way through the 18 to Colaprico but Estelle Johnson stepped up to block the shot. A later free kick by Colaprico from inside 25 yards went as high as it did far. Rory Dames eventually rolled the dice by removing both starting centerbacks—Johnson and Naughton—in the same moment and later lost right back Comeau to injury.
Just past 80 minutes what seemed like a harmless sequence along the left sideline led to the equalizer. Casey Short moved the ball through tight pace and sent it ahead for Press. The play still appeared to be much ado about nothing but Shelina Zadorsky made the ill-fated decision to try a tackle on Press. She was called for the foul in the box and shown a yellow card.
Press calmly beat Labbe to tie the score.
The final minutes saw the Red Stars taking the momentum from their late penalty but there was no winner to be found.
The draw extended the Red Stars (5-2-2, 17 pts) unbeaten streak to six. They host Sky Blue FC next Sunday, June 25 which kicks off their most challenging sequence of the season with a match three days later in Seattle and three days after that in Orlando.
The Spirit (2-5-2, 8 pts) are back at the Maryland SoccerPlex next weekend to host the Thorns.