It’s hard to believe that a team that only managed four goals in their first two months of NWSL play, could make a 4-1 win over the Chicago Red Stars look so easy. In one of Seattle’s best offensive performances of the season, the Reign managed to fire off 14 shots and received scoring from three different players in front of 2,017 at Starfire Stadium Thursday night.
Seattle took an early advantage when the Red Stars were called for a foul in the 6th minute. From 25 yards out Megan Rapinoe lined up to take the free kick while her teammates loaded the box. Screened by Reign players, Chicago keeper Erin McLeod never saw the ball coming as it slipped through low and into the far post.
Rapinoe was strong up the left side flank, firing off shots throughout the night. She had another dangerous attempt ten minutes after her goal from 30 yards out. Had McLeod not made a fingertip save, the shot would have had Goal of the Year potential.
Chicago’s defensive struggles continued in the 21st minute off a Seattle corner. Kaylyn Kyle was able to get a head on the corner and send it past McLeod far post but the ball never found the net as Adrian Leon was called for a handball, resulting in a Reign PK. Kyle slotted her shot past fellow Canadian teammate for the 2-0 lead.
Chicago would start to come to life after going down two goals and attempted to move up the field but struggled to finish. Sending shots high and wide, and in Lori Chalupny’s case, right at Hope Solo. In the 30th minute the Red Star captain took a direct shot from inside the box but Solo was there to knock it down and preserve the two-goal lead into halftime.
The Red Stars came out in the second half applying offensive pressure in hopes of pulling an early goal back but once again had trouble finishing in and around the 18.
Despite Chicago’s early second half hold of the game, Megan Rapinoe would earn her second goal of the game in the 68th minute off a defensive miscue from defender Michelle Wenino. Pressured from behind Wenino attempted a pass back to her keeper, but Rapinoe jumped on in, intercepting the pass and earing her first brace of the season.
Solo was still looking for her first clean sheet of the season coming into Thursday’s match and she appeared she might get it in the 73th minute when she stopped a Red Star’s penalty kick. Chicago quickly turned around when Chalupny sent a through ball down the field that second half sub Jen Hoy was able to put in the back of the net and wipe away Solo’s clean sheet.
Liz Bogus put the game away in the 82nd minute. While Chicago was committing numbers forward, Bogus broke away for a 1-v-1 with McLeod and managed to score her first goal of the season, cementing the Reign’s third win in four games.
Chicago now takes a quick trip to Portland to face Seattle’s southern rivals at JELD-WEN Field Sunday evening in their first game nationally broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel. It’s a must win for the Red Stars if they hope to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Reign will start a three game road trip starting in Chicago Saturday August 3rd.