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Chicago Red Stars upset No. 1 Portland Thorns in NWSL semifinals


The short-handed Chicago Red Stars took down the NWSL Shield winners and No. 1 seed Portland Thorns 2-0 in the NWSL semifinals Sunday.

Chicago entered their playoff matchup without Mallory Pugh and Kayla Sharples due to COVID-19 protocols, with Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher and Casey Krueger also on the team’s injured list.

Starting the match being out-shot and out-possessed, things looked bleak for the Red Stars, as star forward Kealia Watt came off the pitch in the 28th minute with an injury and was replaced by Katie Johnson.

Things then took an unlikely turn for the Chicago when Johnson struck a banger past Bella Bixby just ten minutes after coming into the game to put her side up 1-0.

Dictating the midfield, Chicago began to gain control of the match, quieting Portland’s offense to go into the half up a goal.

The Red Stars continued their charge in the second half, doubling their lead in the 59th minute. Sarah Woldmoe let off a long-range rocket from outside the 18 to secure Chicago the 2-0 win.

Each of the Red Stars’ points came from the team’s only two shots on goal, as they made the most of their chances against the league’s best defense in the Thorns.

The game also marks coach Mark Parsons’ last NWSL game with Portland as he transitions to coaching the Netherlands women’s national team.

Chicago’s win secures the club back-to-back appearances in the NWSL Championship. They will face off against the Washington Spirit, who upset No. 2 OL Reign on Sunday, next Saturday in Louisville.