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Red Stars stay atop NWSL despite draw with Boston

Lori Chalupny scored in her return to the Red Stars. (Photo Daniel Bartel/Chicago Red Stars)

Lori Chalupny scored in her return to the Red Stars. (Photo Daniel Bartel/Chicago Red Stars)

Lori Chalupny scored for the Chicago Red Stars in her first game back from the World Cup, but Stephanie McCaffrey’s 63rd-minute equalizer earned the Boston Breakers a point on the road on Saturday at Benedictine University.

Despite dropping the two points, the draw — combined with Seattle Reign FC’s loss to the Washington Spirit earlier in the night — puts the Red Stars in sole possession of first place in the National Women’s Soccer League, with a game in hand on both Seattle and Washington, in second and third place, respectively.

Chalupny and opposing goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher were the first two players from the United States’ World Cup-winning team to play in an NWSL match following the World Cup. Chalupny scored on Naeher in the 53rd minute, burying a cross from teammate Taryn Hemmings, who beat two Breakers defenders to get to the endline and send a cross back to Chalupny for the 53rd minute goal.

But nine minutes later, McCaffrey equalized for Boston, pouncing on a ball in behind the Red Stars’ defend that no Chicago defender reacted to and beating Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc 1-v-1. Two minutes later, McCaffrey forced LeBlanc into a diving save to keep out a potential go-ahead goal.

[MORE: Red Stars and U.S. midfielder Boxx will retire at year’s end]

The first half was a largely even affair. Sophia Huerta cut inside midway through the first half and ripped a shot off the football field goal post, just above the crossbar.

Playing in her first game back following the World Cup, LeBlanc came up big in the 41st minute, punching away a long-range effort from Katie Schoepfer after scrambling back from punching a ball seconds earlier.

Shannon Boxx entered the match in the 84th minute. She announced before the game that she will retire at the end of the calendar year. U.S. players Christen Press and Julie Johnston were unavailable for selection.

Chicago (6-1-4, 22 pts.) and Boston (3-6-3, 12 pts.) meet again on Wednesday in Boston.

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