PORTLAND, Ore. – The Chicago Red Stars (1-4-2, 5pts) defeated the Portland Thorns (6-2-1, 19pts) on goals by midfielder Zakiya Bywaters and defender Jackie Santacaterina, in front of 12,446 at JELD-WEN Field in Portland, Oregon.  The victory gave the Red Stars their first win of the season, while the Thorns dropped only their second through 9 matches and their second at home.

It was a much different game than the first two meetings between these two clubs, as the Red Stars were missing Canadian internationals goalkeeper Erin McLeod and defenders Carmelina Moscato and Rachel Quon and the Thorns were missing goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc and forward Christine Sinclair and United States internationals defender Rachel Buehler and forward Alex Morgan.

The Red Stars debuted former German internationals defender Sonja Fuss and forward Inka Grings, and their presence clearly changed the complexion of the game.  Fuss proved to be a calming presence on a backline missing several usual starters, while Grings commanded extra attention from the Thorns defense, which allowed midfielders Lori Chalupny and Ella Masar more freedom in the attack.

The match started out relatively open for the first 30 minutes, with both teams having their chances on goal, with the Thorns midfielders Allie Long and Mana Shim forcing Red Stars goalkeeper Taylor Vancil to make big saves.

The match changed significantly in the 35th minute as the Red Stars struck first to break the deadlock.

A corner kick by defender Lydia Vandenbergh sailed to the top right corner of the 6-yard box where it found the head of defender Michelle Wenino who sent it across the box to Bywaters, who easily placed the ball in the back of the net with no defenders between her and the goal. The goal was the second of the season for the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NWSL College Draft and tied her with Chalupny for the team lead with two.

The goal shot up the confidence of the Red Stars who brought their play to a different level, stopping any attacks for the Thorns before they built up.  While the Thorns pressed hard, it didn’t faze the Red Stars, who absorbed the attack, while creating several of their own, testing the Thorns defense and debutant goalkeeper Cris Lewis, who had been brought in as an amateur player in place of LeBlanc.

As the half came to a close, it was clear that the momentum was with the Red Stars, who looked to be the better side.  While the Thorns led in the shot count 3-2, the Red Stars were much more attacking-minded, earning two corner kicks as well as the goal, while the Thorns looked to be pressing for any kind of rhythm in their attack.

The second half began much like the first, with neither team clearly dominating, though the match was turning more and more physical, as each team would be called for 13 fouls on the day, with several more questionable challenges.

The Thorns best chance to equalize in the early minutes came from a shot by defender Marian Dougherty, but it was blocked before reaching Red Stars goalkeeper Taylor Vancil, making her second appearance in goal.

The Red Stars would strike again in the 61st minute. Coming in off a ball sent in by Vandenbergh, Santacaterina was able to redirect the ball just inside the post past Lewis, for her first goal of the year and, for the first time this season, the Thorns found themselves down by two goals.

Sensing the need for some renewed energy, the Thorns substituted midfielder Nikki Washington and forward Jessica Shufelt for Shim and midfielder Angie Kerr, though neither would prove to be very effective.

As the match continued, the Thorns continued to press, but the Red Stars were able to stand their ground and absorb the pressure, while continuing to make some runs of their own, though neither side broke through in the final 30 minutes of the match.

The loss off the national teamers clearly affected both sides, especially the Thorns attack, but midfielder Becky Edwards praised her teammates and opponent’s play, “The four national team players are huge pieces to this team, but I thought we had some good performances from some players who normally don’t play 90 minutes. I thought they did well. We had a good week of training leading in. At times, I thought we were pretty good tonight, but credit to Chicago for pulling out the goal and winning the game.”

Red Stars head coach Rory Dames had this to say about his team’s performance, “(I’m) Extremely pleased with the effort and performance of the team, not just today but we’ve been gradually getting better.  It’s a very difficult environment to come in and play. It’s a great atmosphere if you’re the home team, but a bit difficult if you’re the away team.”

Even in the loss, head coach Cindy Parlow Cone was still proud of her team’s effort, “I’m so proud of my team today. I told them after the game there’s no other team I’d rather coach. They fought, they battled. I thought it was a difficult game to play due to some things outside of our control, but the players that played today, that don’t usually play, stepped up and did a great job. Courtney Wetzel played with the composure of a veteran in center midfield. She really stepped it up. Cris (Lewis) played well in goal and Dani Foxhoven up front, I think she created chances in the first half and made some good runs in behind (the defense). Jazmyne Avant, I thought she was very solid at left back.”

Perhaps lost in the result was the play of both Fuss and Grings, who quietly had an impact on the result in their first match for the Red Stars, as they quickly adjusted to their new surroundings in Chicago.  “It’s really exciting, said Fuss.  “We’ve been a bit nervous because the American way of playing soccer is different than the European style. We’re used to playing in Switzerland and the Swiss League is not as good as the U.S. league. We had a good team in Switzerland, but we’ve been nervous about that (coming into a new team). (Chicago) got the connection right away and they tried to integrate us quickly not only on the field, but also during our free time. We’re happy to be here.”

The addition of Fuss and Grings, members of the German Women’s National Team since 1996, could perhaps be a major turning point for the Red Stars in what has been a frustrating start to the season.  Additionally, midfielder Leslie Osborne appears to be nearing her return to the pitch, as well as midfielder Shannon Boxx.

The result continues a series of frustrating matches for the Thorns, who have seemed to lack a creative spark as of late, but forward Dani Foxhoven believes the team will be able to move on. “I think we will respond well. I think this group we have is a blue-collar team, a work-hard team. That’s been our mentality from the beginning. The girls we’re missing right now are key components, but that’s not to say everybody else isn’t behind them and pushing them. We’re going to keep working hard to get the next win.”

The Thorns and Red Stars have one meeting remaining this season, as the Red Stars will return to Portland July 28.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Thorns, as they host FC Kansas City on Thursday, June 6 at 7:30pm PDT (9:30pm CDT) at JELD WEN Field in their second meeting of the season.  In the first meeting, the first match of the inaugural NWSL season, the squads drew 1-1 on a quick goal by FC Kansas City’s forward Renae Cuellar in the 3rd minute, while Sinclair scored the equalizer on a penalty kick after Foxhoven was fouled in the box.

The Red Stars will return home to Lisle, Illinois to host the Boston Breakers on Sunday, June 9 at 3:00pm CDT (4:00pm EDT) for their second meeting of the season.  In the first meeting, Breakers forward Sydney Leroux recorded the first hat trick in NWSL history as the Breakers won 4-1.

The national team members are expected to return to their clubs Monday.

Watch the full match replay:

Portland Thorns FC (6-2-1, 19pts) vs. Chicago Red Stars (1-4-2, 5pts) 
May 19, 2013 – JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Ore.)

Goals by Half               1          2          F
CHI                                1          1          2
POR                               0         0          0

Scoring Summary
CHI: Bywaters (Wenino, Vandenbergh), 35
CHI: Santacaterina (Wenino), 61

Misconduct Summary
POR: Edwards (Caution), 41
CHI: Chalupny (Caution), 56
POR: Guess (Caution), 90

Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Cris Lewis^; D Marian Dougherty, D Kathryn Williamson, D Nikki Marshall, D Jazmyne Avant, M Angie Kerr (Jessica Shufelt, 64), M Becky Edwards (capt.), M Courtney Wetzel, M Allie Long, F Meleana Shim (Nikki Washington, 64), F Danielle Foxhoven (Elizabeth Guess, 79)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Adelaide Gay, D Carlie Davis^, D/M Emilee O’Neil, M Amanda Dutra^

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Foxhoven, Shim, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Four players tied, 1); FOULS: 13 (Avant, 3); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 0

CHI: GK Taylor Vancil, D Taryn Hemmings, D Jackie Santacaterina, D Sonja Fuss, D Michelle Wenino, D Lydia Vandenbergh, M Julianne Sitch, M Ella Masar (Jessica McDonald, 83), M Zakiya Bywaters (Alyssa Mautz, 67), F Lori Chalupny (capt.), F Inka Grings

Substitutes Not Used: GK Jamie Forbes^, M Leslie Osborne, F Maribel Dominguez

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Three players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Bywaters, Santacaterina, 1); FOULS: 13 (Grings, 3); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 4

Referee: Christina Unkel
Assistant Referees: Kathryn Nesbitt, Jason Perlewitz
Fourth Official: Andrew Brooks
Attendance: 12,446
Weather: 72 degrees, mostly sunny

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.