Chasing a playoff spot, Chicago Red Stars knock off the NWSL-leading Portland Thorns

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Rachel Hill celebrates her go-ahead goal for the Chicago Red Stars in a 2-1 win over Portland at SeatGeek Stadium on September 25th. (Courtesy: ISI Photography)

CHICAGO – Two years ago, the club was just about ready to begin its push towards reaching the National Women’s Soccer League championship game for the first time.

Now they’re trying to do so once again after the traditional postseason was off due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and they took a big step in doing so on Saturday.

Facing the NWSL-leading Portland Thorns at SeatGeek Stadium on Saturday, the Red Stars rallied for a 2-1 win to pick up arguably their biggest victory of the 2021 season. Kealia Watt had the first half equalizer and Rachel Hill’s goal in the 65th minute gave the hosts the lead for good as their defense held off the Thorns for the rest of the contest.

Rory Dames’ team improved to 8-7-5 on the season and their 29 points ties them with North Carolina for third in the standings. Since the Courage has a better goal differential, the Red Stars would have the fourth seed in the playoffs if the season ended today.

It’s an impressive turn of results for the Red Stars against the Thorns, who have been at the top of the league standings in 2021. On May 16th, Portland opened the season with a resounding 5-0 win over the Red Stars to get their campaign kicked off right.

Despite their ups and downs this season, including having to play a lot of the time without US Women’s National team members including Julie Ertz and Alyssa Naeher due to injury, the Red Stars have put themselves in a position to make the newly expanded NWSL playoffs.

With four games remaining, the club is three points ahead of sixth-place Washington in what’s a bunched-up middle of the standings. Only the top two teams – Portland and OL Reign – have pulled away from the pack in the final month of the season.

The Red Stars are back at SeatGeek Stadium on Saturday to face the Orlando Pride in one of their two remaining regular season home games this season.

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