In their first ever meeting, the Chicago Red Stars faced the Orlando Pride at Toyota Park today. Both teams are 1-0-1 (W-D-L) in their first two games of 2016. Many women’s soccer fans anticipated this game to be a battle of US Soccer players. The Pride have stars, Alex Morgan (forward) and Ashlyn Harris (goalkeeper) while the Chicago Red Stars have Christen Press (forward), Julie Johnston (defender), and Alyssa Naeher (goalkeeper).
As reported by the Chicago Red Stars, coach Rory Dames had no plan to adjust his lineup or style of play to defend the dangerous attack of Morgan:
In terms of preparing for Saturday’s meeting with first-year club Orlando Pride, the man (Rory Dames) in charge of Chicago isn’t too interested in adapting to an opponent that has only played two NWSL games in its history and is still very much working to find its own identity.
Where is Julie Johnston?
Early in the season, it’s hard to say if either team has established a standard starting eleven. The only noticeable change in starting lineups was having the Red Stars’ center back, Julie Johnston, listed as a substitute rather than a starter.
Christen Press midfield tactics + other first half observations:
In addition to Johnston not in the starting eleven, Press was slotted into a central midfield position rather than her typical position at striker. The latter adjustment was a tactical change due to a lack of depth in the central midfield position for Red Stars. It was a concern for some fans that Press would not have as many opportunities to score from midfield as she would from the striker position. Her offensive game is a threat and her most dangerous attributes.
Speaking of Press, in the 13th min, Press had an early opportunity on goal but was denied by Harris.
On the other end of the field, Morgan (“baby horse”) found herself in a battle of speed between herself and Red Stars’ defender, Arin Gilliland.
Without Johnston on the field, skepticism was in the air as to how Red Stars’ defensive line would perform. Katie Naughton made her NWSL debut replacing injured Johnston.
Scoreless first half:
The first half of the match was lethargic. Neither team saw many goal-scoring opportunities, and they went into the locker room tied at 0-0.
Second half observations:
Substitutions were made for both teams changing the dynamic of the game. Amanda DaCosta was subbed in for the Red Stars, which allowed Press to move to her more natural position up top. Both DaCosta and Press had opportunities on goal that made Harris come up with big saves.
Red Stars lead 1-0 + the Pride make an attacking substitution:
Even with a Harris making countless saves for the Pride, Press sneaks a goal in early in the second half. In response to the goal, Orlando sub in Jasmyne Spencer, just like their fans wanted. Spencer has been described as an explosive player and fans expected her to help Morgan in the Pride’s offensive attack.
Defense defense defense.
The Red Stars defensive line held off Morgan while Harris held off the Red Stars attack.
Super sub. Super Spencer.
Red Stars prevail: