Photo by Melissa Tamez Chicago’s Christen Press, left, and Portland’s Meghan Klingenberg jockey for position on a header attempt Sunday in the two teams’ 1-1 draw.
Photo by Melissa Tamez
Chicago’s Christen Press, left, and Portland’s Meghan Klingenberg jockey for position on a header attempt Sunday in the two teams’ 1-1 draw.
BOSTON BREAKERS AT CHICAGO RED STARS
WHEN: 7 p.m., Saturday
WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview
RED STARS RECORD: 4-1-3
BOSTON RECORD: 1-6-1
LAST TIME: The Red Stars beat the Breakers 1-0 on May 7 on the road when Christen Press scored the lone goal of the game in the 60th minute.
RED STARS ANALYSIS AND NOTES FROM ALISON MORAN
Top two teams draw the line
The backstory was compelling.
So was the match.
The Chicago Red Stars came into Saturday’s game atop the National Women’s Soccer League and riding a six-game unbeaten streak.
The Big Three United States Women’s National Team members from the Red Stars -- forward Christen Press, defender Julie Johnston and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher -- were back after missing a Chicago match because they were playing a couple of friendlies with Japan. They were pitted against the NWSL's only unbeaten team -- the Portland Thorns.
In the end, both teams got a point in a 1-1 draw.
Both teams "came out flat," according to Thorns coach Mark Parsons but then found unusual and entertaining ways to score goals.
Controlling and attacking through most of the first half, Portland (3-0-5) struck first. In the 24th minute, the Thorns' team captain, veteran forward Christine Sinclair, gave herself a 33rd birthday present on a back-pass from Red Stars defender Samantha Johnson. The pass bounced off Sinclair, past Naeher, and into the net.
It was the Red Stars' (4-1-3) turn in the second half.
"You give a team like Chicago a second chance, and they punish you," said Sinclair.
The Red Stars scored the equalizer in the 61st minute, when midfielder Alyssa Mautz, substituting for forward Jen Hoy, used her brains and her chest to down a pass to Press, who hit to the underside of the crossbar, where it bounced down and in past the fully extended fingertips and body of goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.
"The ball had a lot of spin on it," Press said. "You don't get lucky like that often, so you just take it and appreciate it.’’
Yellow cards were issued to Red Stars Sofia Huerta, Arin Gilliland, and Mautz for defensive handling. Portland's Nadia Nadim was also issued a yellow card for defensive handling.
The Red Stars' next game is the Olympic sendoff for the trio. The Boston Breakers will be in town on at 7 p.m. Saturday, which is also Day 2 of Porky's Ribfest at Toyota Park. No special accommodations have been announced for the game, according to Red Stars' officials.
Oh, baby, Lomnicki honored
The Red Stars devoted their halftime festivities to honoring the accomplishments of former defender Michelle Lomnicki, who retired after the 2015 season. The Colorado native was the longest-tenured player in Red Stars history, playing five seasons, scoring three goals and adding two assists in 48 appearances.
She also played with Germany's SC Freiburg. She was feted by the Red Stars with a video of each team player thanking her for her leadership, and was presented with a Red Stars onesie for the baby boy she and husband Brad are expecting.
"Today, I say thank you to the game that has given me so much," said Lomnicki, who thanked Red Stars management, her family, her teammates, and the fans for supporting her.
Red Stars bits
Naeher was voted the Player of the Month by the NWSL Media Association. She currently ranks third with 22 saves on the season. Her four shutouts are tied for most in the league…Press leads the NWSL this season with five goals. She scored her 20th overall goal on Sunday…The Red Stars are tied for first place with the Western New York Flash with 15 points each while Portland and the Washington Spirit each have 14 points.
CHICAGO FIRE AT COLORADO RAPIDS
WHEN: 8 p.m., Saturday
WHERE: Dick’s Sports Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado
FIRE RECORD: 2-5-5
COLORADO SPRINGS RECORD: 8-2-4
LAST TIME: Colorado’s Dillon Serna scored in the first minute in a 1-0 victory over the Fire on Aug. 22 in Bridgeview.
FOCUS ON THE CHICAGO FIRE BY JEFF VORVA
Lion hopes to roar with his new team
The Fire’s recent signee, Michael de Leeuw, was scheduled to meet the media on Tuesday but on Saturday, he met with the fans.
De Leeuw, whose surname means lion in Dutch, visited Heineken Pub 97 at the PrivateBank Fire Pitch during the team’s fifth Fire, Brews + Bites event, hopes to energize an offense that score a Major League Soccer-low 10 goals in its first 12 matches.
“I only wanted to say, I’m glad that I’m in Chicago, and I can’t wait to score goals," he said, "And play for the Fire and play for you.”
He is expected to make his debut for the Fire in July.
De Leeuw, 29, played 27 games with Eredivisie side FC Groningen in the Dutch League and scored nine goals. In 241 professional matches, he has 105 career goals.