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Recap: A tale of two halves ends with Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars sharing the points

Kris Ward’s gamble pays off with a point, and so nearly all three

NWSL: Washington Spirit at Chicago Red Stars Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Spirit wrapped up their regular season home and away fixtures with Chicago Red Stars with a 0-0 at SeatGeek Stadium. Though the scoreline may not reflect it, the match was an intriguing tale of two halves with stellar saves from goalkeepers Aubrey Kingsbury and Alyssa Naeher being the only reason the match was goalless at full time.

The two sides began the match with very different philosophies as Kris Ward opted to start Sanchez and Rodman on the bench while the Red Stars began with their best available XI. As such, the match started in a manner familiar to the previous matchup just a week ago. Chicago’s press and direct attack put the Spirit under an immense amount of pressure in the opening 20 minutes.

Mallory Pugh in particular routinely scythed around and through the Spirit’s defense but was unable to convert the danger into a goal.

As the match ticked toward the hour mark the Spirit were able to craft a couple half chances by getting the ball to stick higher up the pitch. Washington targeted the channels to help bypass the aggressive midfield press, but unfamiliarity in the final third kept the Spirit from working a quality shooting opportunity,

Though it’s been a bit frantic, given the starting lineups, the Spirit have were doing well to keep Chicago at bay as the match entered the final ten minutes of the half.

Washington used another spell in Chicago’s half to give them a breather defensively as they worked the ball into areas to be cleared for throw-ins. No real danger came from it, but it was an important spell which carried the Spirit into halftime with the score knotted 0-0.

As expected, the second half began with Ward calling on Camryn Biegalski, Trinity Rodman and Ashley Sanchez to start the second half.

Within the first three minutes Sanchez wins the ball high, holds it up for a beat before spraying to Rodman wide. Trinity works a shooting angle in the box and blasts the ball by Alyssa Naeher but off the far post.

A minute later Naher was called on again. A lovely cross from Morgan Goff reached the head of Ashley Hatch and was turned toward goal but the USWNT #1 swatted the ball away with an incredible one handed diving save.

The opening ten minutes was a polar opposite from the first half. The Spirit pounced all over Chicago, not allowing them toward goal while pulling saves out of Naeher. Kris Ward’s gamble to start an inexperienced XI paid off as the score was kept knotted at halftime and the Spirit took over the run of play in the second half.

Chicago worked their best chance in the 58th minute as two 50/50 challenges fall kindly to the Red Stars and a cross is sent just inches above a leaping Mal Pugh.

Unfortunately for the Spirit the turning of the tables has also meant that it was their turn to dominate play but struggle to get the ball in the net. The match turned into an entertaining tale of two halves but as the teams entered the final twenty minutes the score was still a goalless draw.

Chicago’s best chance of the second half came n the 79th minute as Ava Cook slipped a through ball behind the line to Mallory Pugh. The former Spirit player was quickly closed down by Kingsbury who made herself big and deflected the ball away before Pugh could pick out a gap to steer the ball through.

Rodman has a sweet turn in the box in the 85th minute who then rockets the ball at goal with her left foot that Naeher flew to deflect. The ball was loose in the box for a second but Rodman couldn’t get to it before a Red Stars defender got in the way.

Both teams gave it a final effort in one another’s box but the ball never crossed the line as they share a point. Given the first half, the Spirit will probably cherish the point as they held on long enough to get to halftime, after halftime Chicago will feel fortunate not to have conceded.

A point both can be satisfied about? Sometimes it be like that.


Box Score

NWSL Regular Season

Red Stars - 0

Washington Spirit - 0

Lineups:

Red Stars (3421): Naeher; Milazzo, Sharples, Morse; Hill (Mautz 88’), Colaprico, DiBernardo, Luebbert (Aguilera 60’); Nagasato (Fisher 88’), Pugh; Stevens (Cook 59’)

Spirit (4231): Kingsbury; Heilferty, Staab, Sonnett, Rodriguez (Biegalski 46’); Roddar, Aylmer (Sanchez 46’); Goff (Harding 76’), Feist, Elwell (Rodman 46’); Hatch

Bookings:

Red Stars - Cook 66’

Spirit - Sonnett 24’, Aylmer 45’, Rodman 76’