It was clear to see that this was a first game for both clubs, as they made some clumsy mistakes and struggled to be effective in the final third. Leg fatigue was also felt in the final moments as the match ended in the blink of an eye.
The Red Stars have a few new faces, including goalkeeper Cassie Miller, who has taken the place of regular goalkeeper Alyssa Naer, who is in action with Julie Ertz for the national team. Still, Miller was impressive in her NWSL debut. She took the Florida State punishment calmly and coolly.
Both teams came out of the locker room slow, but it was the Red Stars who got into the game first. Chicago’s effective pressing forced Houston into numerous unforced errors and put the home team on the hot seat.
It was Kylia Watt who impressed in Chicago. The midfielder formed an excellent partnership with defender Casey Kruger on the right side of the defense and caused the Dash plenty of problems. Watt couldn’t score, but she did create the best chance of the game.
Watt’s cross came on the leg of Sarah Lubbert, who forced a good save from Dash goalkeeper Lindsey Harris.
But despite the Dash taking a 5-1 lead in the first half, the Red Stars failed to create any real chances apart from Lubbert’s goal. Sloppy play in the midfield and a lack of clinical performance from striker Katie Johnson caused the Red Stars to get bogged down.
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The Red Stars also came back from the break better in the second half and had perhaps their best period of the game in the first ten minutes of the second half.
Vanessa DiBernardo was productive throughout the match and had the biggest chance of the game in the second half when Watt, who brought the ball into the box, fell on the midfielder’s foot. DiBernardo’s shot was wide of the target though, the ball slipped away and Dash cleared.
Houston made its mark in the second half and came alive after 60 minutes. A quick counter attack led to what should have been Veronica Latsco’s first goal. However, the Houston attacker was offside and the game remained scoreless.
The last 20 minutes were characterized by sloppy play from both sides. Tired legs got in the way, and the humid Houston weather caused some players to cramp up. In the end, both teams seemed satisfied with the point, and that’s what they got.
My wife at the game was Keelia Watt. The striker was dangerous on the right and created the best two chances of the game.
The Red Stars return to Chicago, where they continue their Challenge Cup schedule and play on the 15th. in April against the Portland Thorns. The game starts at 18:30. ET and can be viewed in the US on Paramount+ and worldwide on Twitch.