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Reign last-minute comeback robs Red Stars of three points

The Chicago Red Stars enjoyed a one-goal lead for 76 minutes, but two goals by the Seattle Reign in the final minutes robbed the home side of three points. Jen Hoy put the Red Stars on the board in the 23rd minute and for much of the game it appeared as though Chicago was destined to put multiple goals away while shutting out the Reign. Seattle flipped the script on the home team though, with Nahomi Kawasumi scoring in the 90th minute and Katie Johnson putting the game winner away in the second minute of stoppage time.

The Red Stars looked very much the better team for the majority of the match, and a large reason for that–besides the absence of Megan Rapinoe–was the poor showing from Seattle’s backline, especially from Lauren Barnes, usually stalwart on defense. Mistakes, lack of pace, and poor marking allowed the Red Stars to continuously slip past through the Reign defense to create opportunities on goal. Although she didn’t walk away with the clean sheet, Seattle goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer did walk away with seven saves on the night, many of which were earned in the second half to keep her team in the game. 

The one goal she did allow came midway in the first half when Taylor Comeau received the ball on the near flank. She deftly juked to the left to shake Kiersten Dallstream off before moving more centrally into space before sending a perfectly-lofted cross to Hoy, who headed the ball past Kopmeyer to give the Red Stars the lead.


Both teams did well to create chances following Hoy’s goal, including one sequence for Chicago that started when Hoy beat Barnes and made a run towards goal in what appeared to be an attempt to go one-v-one with Kopmeyer before putting a shot on frame, but instead she crossed the ball to Christen Press, who maintained possession despite two Reign defenders’ attempts at dispossessing her. Press was unable to get off a shot though, and the ball went out for a corner kick. Moments later Seattle had a dangerous chance in front of goal off a set piece, but the ball gets knocked around in the Reign’s final third before being sent in for a sliding Rachel Corsie, but Michelle Dalton, getting her first start of the 2017 season, was able to get in front of Corsie’s shot to deny a first-half equalizer.

Laura Harvey started the second half off by subbing rookie forward Katie Johnson into the game, a move that did not look immediately effective as the opening 20 minutes of the half were somewhat lackluster. However, that all changed around the 66-minute mark when the Red Stars exploited the disorganization of Seattle’s defense by peppering their opponents’ goal with an onslaught of shots. Kopmeyer made three saves inside of a minute to deny each of the Reign’s attempts, and the far post came in clutch to deny a fourth attempt.

Kopmeyer came up big again in the 69th minute when Dalton’s goal kick bounced to Barnes, who whiffed the attempt of redirecting the ball, only to have it bounce right to Press’s feet in space as she slipped in behind the Seattle back line. Press used her pace to keep ahead of the defenders, but Kopmeyer did well to cut off the Chicago striker’s angle, forcing the ball out over the endline for another Chicago corner. Kopmeyer almost immediately followed that stop up with a close-range save to deny Morgan Proffitt from scoring off a header for her first professional goal.

As the game clock continued to wear down, so did Chicago’s defense, and it seemed that the Reign were destined to equalize before the final whistle. Despite Chicago’s best attempts to run out the clock, they left more than enough time for Seattle to not only equalize but to steal the win out from under them, as in the 90th minute Rumi Utsugi sent a through ball to Kawasumi, who took the ball just outside the six before, made a defender fall to the pitch, and blasted a shot past Dalton to level the score.

Three minutes of stoppage time was more than enough for the Reign to strike again, which they did via second-half sub Johnson in the 92nd minute. Barnes redeemed herself a bit when she dispossessed Alyssa Mautz and won the second ball to set up the goal-scoring play. She switched the field with a high ball to Merritt Mathias, whose ball found Johnson where she was holding her run between Chicago’s center back duo of Julie Ertz and Casey Short. Johnson took one touch to settle the ball and then ripped a low shot past where Dalton had come outside the six and into the back of the net for the last-minute game winner.

Although Seattle’s defensive woes provided many scoring opportunities for the Red Stars, it was Chicago’s utter defensive collapse in the game’s final minutes that cost them three points and gave Seattle it’s first ever win in Chicago. Both teams will look to strengthen up their backlines ahead of this weekend, when both return to the field. Seattle travels to New Jersey to take on Sky Blue FC on Saturday, while Chicago hosts FC Kansas City on Sunday.


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