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Seattle Reign, Chicago Red Stars settle for scoreless draw

SEATTLE – The Seattle Reign and Chicago Red Stars played to a scoreless draw at Memorial Stadium. The Red Stars pushed Seattle back on its heels in the first half, but a late surge from the Reign saw several near misses skip wide as both teams settled for a point Wednesday evening.

“I thought it was a great battle,” Seattle Reign coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “It thought it was a battle all over the field. I thought the players did extremely well and played hard.No one can question their effort. No one can question their heart. If there was one thing we had to match today, was Chicago’s physicality, and we did incredible. I’m very proud of them.”

The Red Stars put Seattle under pressure early but only managed two shots on goal in the first half. Julie Ertz redirected a header from a corner kick in the eighth minute, forcing a diving stop from Seattle keeper Lydia Williams. Kerr managed another shot in the 24th minute from long range, which was held by Williams on another diving save.

Chicago’s best chance of the match came in the 54th minute, when Vanessa DiBernardo broke free in the right alley and swung a cutback cross to Kerr just outside the six-yard box. Kerr fired with her first touch, but a sprawling Williams managed to get in front of the rocket and it bounced away as Kerr grabbed her head in frustration.

“It’s incredible.” Andonovski said. “We talk about our goalkeepers here. That we’re going to do a lot in front of them, but there will be the one or two times that they get called on and that’s what we need them for. They need to come out and really show. That’s why she’s one of the best in the world. That save, it’s not just worth a point, but for the morale of the team and the mentality just shifts a little bit.”

Theresa Nielsen nearly scored for the Reign in the 59th minute when she received a corner kick in space at the back side of the penalty area, but her volley deflected off a defender in traffic and was cleared away.

Seattle captain Jess Fishlock had her side’s bests chance of the night, when she received a cross-field ball in the Chicago penalty area in the 82nd minute. Fishlock turned toward goal with her first touch and fired a shot that rocketed off the post and keeper Alyssa Naeher before rolling out for a corner kick.

The Reign managed two more promising shots in the late stages of the match. Fishlock received another opportunity from the left side in the 88th minute when a second ball on a free kick fell to her feet, but her first touch carried her to a low angle and her shot smashed into the side netting. Substitute Adriana Leon had a shot from the left side in the seventh minute of stoppage time, but her shot rolled wide of the far post.

Chicago outshot the hosts 14-8, including a 5-0 margin on shots on goal. Seattle was forced to make 26 clearances to preserve the 11th clean sheet of the season.

With the draw, the Reign are now 10-4-7 (37 points) in second place in the NWSL standings. The Red Stars are 7-4-9 (30 points) with a game in hand on Seattle and Orlando (8-7-6, 30 points).

“I don’t think it’s disappointing,” Chicago coach Rory Dames said. “There’s a point total that we think we need to get to make the playoffs. It’s still within our reach. I don’t think the game (Saturday’s match against Portland) determines if we get in or not. We still play Orlando, we still play Utah. We win those games and (it’s like) we get six points. We’ve been down this road the last few years. Chasing points and figuring it out. I’m very proud of the group.”

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