For the first time in a match involving the Houston Dash, neither team found the back of the net as the Dash and Chicago Red Stars played to a scoreless draw at Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex on a warm afternoon.
The Dash controlled possession for much of the first half but didn’t create many clear-cut chances in the attacking third. Red Stars forward Christen Press was the main offensive threat for Chicago, but rookie defender Marissa Diggs showed her one-on-one defensive skills to shut down the U.S. women’s national team star in a half that only saw five shots between the two teams and just one requiring a save.
Chicago came out of the break with more of an attacking bent and nearly opened the scoring seven minutes into the second period. Kelly McFarlane headed a Red Stars free kick back towards Erin McLeod, but the Dash keeper bobbled and it deflected off a Chicago player towards goal. Arianna Romero was positioned on the near post, however, and calmly cleared the loose ball off the goal line.
The Red Stars had another golden opportunity in the 65th minute. Press found Julie Johnston streaking into the box and Johnston was able to get the end line and serve in a hard cross. McLeod, positioned at her near post, was able to get a hand on it but it only deflected into the path of Zakiya Bywaters making a run on the opposite side. Bywaters tried to direct a shot on goal with just two Dash defenders on the line, but the attempt didn’t have enough power and McLeod was able to pick up the shot.
Chicago put on most of the pressure in the second half, but the Dash were still able to come up with their own chances. After Jordan Jackson was cut down from behind a yard outside the penalty area, Stephanie Ochs curled a left-footed free kick over the wall and on-target, but Karina LeBlanc was there to tip the shot over the bar.
After being shut out for much of the second half, Press nearly pulled a win out of thin air for the Red Stars in stoppage time with a curling shot from the edge of the box. The shot looped over a diving McLeod and hit the underside of the crossbar, but the ball hit the line as it fell and spun away from the goal as the teams finished level.
The Dash return to Houston unbeaten in their last three games for a midweek match against league leaders Seattle Reign FC on Wednesday. Chicago travels to the nation’s capital next Saturday to take on the Washington Spirit.
Houston Dash (5-10-3; 18 points) at Chicago Red Stars (7-6-7; 28 points)
NWSL regular season
July 26, 2014 – Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, Lisle, Illinois
Houston Dash: Erin McLeod ©; Arianna Romero, Marissa Diggs, Whitney Engen (Osinachi Ohale 78), Meghan Klingenberg; Kelly McFarlane, Jordan Jackson (Ella Masar 66), Becky Edwards; Kealia Ohai, Rafaelle Souza (Stephanie Ochs 58), Melissa Henderson
Unused substitutes: Bianca Henninger, Tiffany McCarty, Kika Toulouse, Nina Burger
Chicago Red Stars: Karina LeBlanc; Taryn Hemmings, Julie Johnston, Abby Erceg, Rachel Quon; Emily Van Egmond (Alyssa Mautz 76), Lori Chalupny ©, Shannon Boxx (Jackie Santacaterina 66), Zakiya Bywaters; Christen Press, Adriana Leon (Melissa Tancredi 76)
Unused substitutes: Taylor Vancil, Jen Hoy, Kecia Morway, Michelle Wenino
CRS: Abby Erceg (caution) 61
HOU: Osinachi Ohale (caution) 84
CRS: Alyssa Mautz (caution) 90+2
Referee: Christina Unkel
Assistant Referees: Amanda Ross, Cory Richardson
Fourth Official: Khalaf Al-Latayfeh