PORTLAND, Ore. — With goals from Zakiya Bywaters and Jackie Santacaterina, Chicago finally broke into the win column, the Red Stars recording their first NWSL win with a 2-0 result at Thorns FC.
A crowd of 12,446 at JELD-WEN Field saw two pieces of Red Stars execution separate the visitors in an otherwise even match, a first half corner kick and the second half redirection of a fullback’s cross sending Portland to their second loss of the season.
The commonality was a Red Stars team who had done well to limit chances on goalkeeper Taylor Vancil, taking advantage of Portland on balls sent in from wide. In the first half, poor marking on a corner kick allowed Chicago to take a lead into intermission. After the break, the inability to deal with a ball sent through the six-yard box allowed the Red Stars to seal the match.
The game marked the much-awaited debut of former German international Inka Grings, the former FCR Duisburg attacker completing a quiet 90 minutes in her Chicago debut. The 34-year-old joined the Red Stars last week from FC Zurich along with defender Sonja Fuss, another former German international. Fuss went 90 minutes at right-center half, teaming with Taryn Hemmings to help keep Chicago’s clean sheet.
A relatively evenly played first half saw Thorns FC control much of the possession, though to very little effect. The hosts would only manage three shots over the first 45 minutes (to Chicago’s two), the pair that tested Vancil being low percentage shots from wide.
For the game, Chicago outshot Portland 11 to 8.
In the 35th minute, Chicago broke through with their only good chance of the half. After a handball call on Thorns’ midfielder Courtney Wetzel just outside the Portland penalty area, the Red Stars won a corner kick – a well-executed restart that saw defender Michelle Wenino head a far post ball back across goal. An unmarked Bywaters, standing just inside the near post, volleyed the shot in for her second goal of the year and a Red Stars’ lead.
After the second half opened to neither side being able to dictate play, Chicago doubled their lead in the 62nd minute. A cross from the left flank by fullback Lydia Vandenburgh was allowed to bounce through the six-yard box and onto Jackie Santacaterina, who redirected the ball inside Cris Lewis’ left post for the Red Stars’ second goal.
After outplaying their hosts for much of the second half, Chicago improve to 1-4-2 and move within one point of the sixth place Washington Spirit. The loss sends Portland’s record to 6-2-1, and now alone in second place after Sky Blue FC’s 5-1 win over Boston..
35′ – Zakiya Bywaters 2 (Michelle Wenino)
62′ – Jackie Santacaterina 1 (Lydia Vandenburgh)
Portland Thorns FC: Cris Lewis; Jazmyne Avant, Nikkie Marshall, Kathryn Williamson, Marian Dougherty; Courtney Wetzel, Becky Edwards, Allie Long, Angie Kerr (Jessica Schufelt, 64′); Mama Shim (Nikki Washington, 64), Danielle Foxhoven (Elizabeth Guess, 80′)
Chicago Red Stars: Taylor Vancil; Lydia Vanvenbergh, Taryn Hemmings, Sonja Fuss, Michell Wenino; Jackie Santacaterina, Julianne Stitch; Ella Masar (Jessica McDonald 83′), Lori Chalupny, Zakiya Bywaters (Alyssa Mautz, 67′); Inka Grings
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