Alanna Kennedy scored her third goal of the season in the 93+ minute, but the Orlando Pride were unable to complete the late-game rally, falling 2-1 to host Chicago Red Stars on Saturday afternoon. The Pride will now have two weeks to prepare for the second leg of the home-and-home series with the Red Stars, as the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) enters a bye week for the Tournament of Nations. The Pride host the Red Stars in their next match on Aug. 5 at Orlando City Stadium.
“It was the kind of game we expected; We knew it was going to be tight, we knew it was going to be tough. We know what Chicago do well and they did it today by scoring two goals despite our work on the training field and in the video room this week,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “I think getting the first goal was critical in the game and we had a great chance to equalize and go [into halftime] at one each. [Going down is] difficult against a team like Chicago who I would say are defensively the best team in the league. I was happy with the effort of our players, we could have done a couple of things better and I think had we gotten that goal earlier then we would have still been very much in the game.”
The home side opened the scoring in the 29th minute, with Sofia Huerta sending a ball over the top of the Pride backline, finding target forward Christen Press behind the defense. Though Aubrey Bledsoe attempted to come off of her line and steal the ball, Press took a move around the Pride goalkeeper to make it 1-0 just two minutes before the first half hydration break.
Press doubled the Red Stars’ lead seven minutes into the second half in similar fashion, beating Bledsoe on a break for her second goal of the match.
With the Pride pressing forward late in the match, Kennedy found herself on the benefiting end of a Rachel Hill cross, slamming in her third goal of the season in the 93+ minute. After finishing all three prior meetings with Chicago with 1-0 losses, Kennedy’s goal marked the first goal the Pride have scored against the Red Stars in Club history.
Alex Morgan, making her third start of the season in the match, had the Pride’s best opportunity on net in the 37th minute but stout goalkeeping preserved the, then, 1-0 Chicago lead. Camila sent a lofted ball into the top of the six-yard box but Alyssa Naeher came up with a huge save, denying Morgan on the point-blank header. Morgan had another opportunity in that half, picking off a poor outlet pass by Naeher, her U.S. Women’s National Team teammate, but the goalkeeper recovered well to smother the threat.
After entering the match in the 79th minute, Hill nearly found Kennedy on the counterattack. The rookie forward collected a cross-field pass from Camila and setup Kennedy on a trailing run but the Australian’s shot trickled just wide of the post.
Orlando next turns its attention to a 7:30 p.m. ET rematch with the Red Stars in two weeks. Tickets to the Aug. 5 meeting at Orlando City Stadium are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Chicago Red Stars vs. Orlando Pride
Date: July 22, 2017
Venue: Toyota Park
Kickoff: 3:50 p.m. ET
Weather: Clear, humid
Goals 1 2 F
Chicago (8-3-4) 1 1 2
Orlando (5-6-4) 0 1 1
CHI - Christen Press (Sofia Huerta) 29’
CHI - Christen Press (Jen Hoy) 52’
ORL - Alanna Kennedy (Rachel Hill) 93+
Orlando Pride: Aubrey Bledsoe; Camila, Ali Krieger ©, Toni Pressley, Steph Catley; Dani Weatherholt (Monica 79’), Marta, Alanna Kennedy; Jasmyne Spencer (Kristen Edmonds 46’), Alex Morgan, Chioma Ubogagu (Rachel Hill 79’)
Substitutes Not Used: Caroline Stanley; Nickolette Driesse, Maddy Evans; Jamie Fields, Rachel Hill
Chicago Red Stars: Alyssa Naeher; Arin Gilliland, Casey Short, Katie Haughton, Taylor Comeau; Danielle Colaprico (Julie Ertz 46’), Lauren Kaskie (Morgan Proffitt 85’), Sofia Huerta; Vanessa DiBernardo, Jen Hoy (Alyssa Mautz 89’), Christen Press ©
Substitutes Not Used: Michele Dalton; Sarah Gorden; Summer Green; Stephanie McCaffrey
Stats Summary: CHI / ORL
Possession: 43.9% / 56.1%
Shots: 9 / 15
Shots on Goal: 5 / 4
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 2 / 7
Fouls: 3 / 10
Offside: 1 / 1
ORL - Marta (Yellow Card) 75’
Referee: Farhad Dadkho
Assistant Referee 1: Rachel Smith
Assistant Referee 2: Art Arustamyan
Fourth Official: Lukasz Szpala