Seattle Reign FC clinched a playoff spot Sunday night with a 1-1 draw against the visiting Chicago Red Stars at Memorial Stadium. Second half substitute Beverly Goebel scored for the Reign, while Christen Press notched one for the visitors. The draw was also significant for the Red Stars as the point helps them keep them in the playoff hunt.
Following the Seattle’s first loss of the season last week — at the hands of the Red Stars — the club made some changes to the starting lineup in hopes of producing a goal early. Kim Little and Jess Fishlock started further up the field then they normally do while Sydney Leroux was not in the starting lineup.
While the Reign enjoyed a heavy advantage in possession to start the match, the team was unable to get on the scoresheet. Seattle did have a couple of dangerous chances in this period, including a shot by Keelin Winters that required a near point-blank save from Karina LeBlanc.
Around the half hour mark, Chicago seemed to settle in and earn more of the possession. In the the 33rd minute, Michelle Wenino sent a cross into the box for unmarked Christen Press, but Press’ header was off the mark.
In the 43rd minute, Seattle was awarded a free kick, which was taken by Little. The ball bounced around a bit and the sequence ended when Elli Reed’s shot from distance went wide.
Both teams came listless after the break with few chances recorded for either side to start the half. Seattle nearly scored in the 66th minute, when Reed sent a cross into the box. Leroux got her foot on the ball but LeBlanc was there to make the save.
Less than five minutes later, the Reign took the lead. Leroux did well to keep a cross from Nahomi Kawasumi in bounds. She played the ball to Kendall Fletcher, who sent the ball across the box to Goebel, and LeBlanc had no chance of stopping Goebel’s strike.
The Reign’s lead would be short-lived, however, as Chicago struck back in the 81st minute. Seattle defender Lauren Barnes attempted to settle a 50/50 ball but slipped and the ball fell to Jen Hoy. Hoy then slid the ball to Press, who easily got the ball past Hope Solo.
A rocket from Leroux that went just over the crossbar in the 84th minute was the last significant chance of the match and thus, the regular season series between the teams ends 1-1-1.
Both the Reign and Red Stars next play at home. The Red Stars face Houston Saturday, while Seattle will faces its Cascadia rival, Portland, next Sunday. Chicago now sits in 5th place, tied on points (27) with Washington.
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