Jodie Taylor cleaned up a rebound in the 79th minute to help the Spirit beat the Red Stars 1-0 and move into 2nd place on the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Red Stars had the bulk of the chances for most of the night but two big plays by Ashlyn Harris and one rude encounter with the crossbar kept them off the board.
It was the second time this season the Spirit have gone to Chicago and left with a 1-0 victory.
Taylor started the goal-scoring play by winning a ball of Samantha Johnson to keep possession with the visitors. Diana Matheson dribbled into a dangerous area and played it wide left for second-half substitute Veronica Perez. The Mexican international got off a shot that Karina LeBlanc saved and probably should have been able to smother. Instead the ball squirted free and Taylor was in the right place to bury her 6th goal of the season.
The Spirit prevailed despite losing Crystal Dunn after 20 minutes for undisclosed reasons. Shortly after she went off, Lori Chalupny played Jen Hoy in down the right side but Harris played it smoothly and forced Hoy to a wide angle, where she eventually played it back to a teammate and the Spirit cleared it out for a corner kick.
The Red Stars had several good chances around the hour mark. Zakiya Bywaters used her footwork to get a clean shot between defenders and Harris had to dive left to knock it out of bounds. A few minutes later Adriana Leon chested down a poor defensive clearance and before it hit the ground she ripped a shot that slammed off the crossbar.
The Spirit never broke, though, and won it on Taylor’s goal to extend their unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1). They are now 6-4-1 (19 points) and will get the weekend off before visiting Boston next Wednesday.
The Red Stars’ winning streak ended at five matches and their unbeaten streak at six games, but they have still yet to concede more than a single goal in a game in 2014. They also welcomed back Taryn Hemmings, who came off the bench in the second half for her first game action since tearing her ACL last July 14. Chicago next heads to Seattle to face the undefeated Reign on Saturday night.
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