Seattle Reign FC (13-1-3, 42 pts) will try to start a new winning streak this Sunday, July 20, as they take on the Chicago Red Stars (7-6-5, 26 pts) at the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium. The match kicks off at 4 p.m. (PT)
Seattle suffered its first loss of the season last Saturday at the hands of the Red Stars, falling 1-0 after conceding an early goal.
After pressuring Reign FC’s backline, Chicago got on the board for the game’s lone score in the 8th minute, with forward Melissa Tancredi scoring her first NWSL goal off a pass from midfielder Julie Johnston, knocking the ball past goalkeeper Hope Solo into the far corner of the net.
Seattle’s best opportunity may have come in the 63rd minute, when a cross from Scottish international Kim Little found the head of forward Sydney Leroux, with goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc able to corral the attempt for the save.
LeBlanc is second in the NWSL among goalkeepers to play at least four games with a goals against average of 0.933, behind only Solo, who boasts a 0.929 average.
Reign FC nearly found the equalizer again in the 84th minute, with a hard strike from forward Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi — the reigning NWSL Player of the Week — from just inside the 18-yard box, but LeBlanc was able to keep the ball in front of her for the recovery.
For just the second time this season, Reign FC was held scoreless, despite outshooting Chicago 8-6.
Despite the loss, Seattle remains in first place in the NWSL with a league-record 42 points, nine points ahead of second-place FC Kansas City, and 15 points clear of the third-place Washington Spirit.
Chicago is coming off a 1-1 draw with the Portland Thorns on Thursday. Alongside LeBlanc, the Red Stars are led by midfielder Lori Chalupny, the lone Chicago player to start all 18 games for the team. Chalupny and forward Jen Hoy are tied for the team lead in goals with four apiece, while midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo and forward Adriana Leon are tied for the team-lead in assists with three each.
Sunday’s match will decide which side takes home the series victory between the Red Stars and Reign FC, with Seattle winning the first matchup between the two teams on June 7 by a score of 3-2, with two penalty kick conversions by Little, and a goal from forward Sydney Leroux leading Seattle to the win.
With five weeks left in the 2014 NWSL season, the playoff push is on. Reign FC could clinch their spot in the playoffs with a win or draw this weekend. Seattle could also book their ticket to the postseason with some help from other matches – including a Thorns FC loss to the Breakers, or a Spirit loss against Sky Blue FC.
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