The Seattle Reign were undefeated entering their match with the Chicago Red Stars, but left the pitch with their first blemish of the National Women’s Soccer League season.
Chicago’s Melissa Tancredi provided the game’s only score with a shot off the right wing past Seattle keeper Hope Solo in the eighth minute. The Red Stars then held on for the remaining 82 minutes against the team with the best goal differential in the NWSL.
Red Stars midfielder Shannon Boxx said the team was not intimidated by the goose egg in the Reign’s loss column prior to the fixture.
“Seattle’s obviously number one ranked right now,” Boxx said. “And to come in and have the confidence to just play, we didn’t sit back.”
The match held significant implications on the league table, as the win put the Red Stars into a tie for the final playoff spot, but with five U.S. Women’s National Team players featured on the two rosters, their long-term goals reach well beyond the NWSL playoffs.
“We have our eyes on a huge prize and that is to bring back a World Cup to the USA,” Seattle forward Sydney Leroux said. “Obviously it’s a big deal and the NWSL is a stepping stone towards the World Cup.”
Boxx was on the 2011 USWNT roster that lost to Japan on penalty kicks in the World Cup Final.
“We want to win,” Boxx said. “And I think it’s always in the back of our mind – that loss and how close we were.”
This is just the second year of existence for the NWSL. The popularity of the 2014 FIFA World Cup has the US experiencing soccer fever; a malady the Red Stars’ Julie Johnston hopes is enough to keep the league around.
“We want this league to last for a long time,” Johnston said. “I’m so honored that I’m able to play here in my country. So in order to keep that, a fan-base like this is huge.”
More than 3000 fans suffered through the rain to watch the Red Stars’ win. They’ll be hoping for another victory next year in Canada during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
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