Without their USWNT and CanWNT stars, the Portland Timbers struggled against the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday night. In the first half, Zakiya Bywaters scored off a corner kick and Jacqueline Santacaterina extended the lead in the second half with a strike inside the box.
The first 24 minutes of the match were underwhelming as both sides played a cautious style of soccer, rarely challenging their opponents and testing the keepers. Criss Lewis stepped in between the posts on Saturday, marking her debut for Portland but she was rarely tested until Chicago found their opening goal in the 35th minute.
Portland's Mana Shim and Danielle Foxhoven attempted to find the back of the net throughout the night but GK Taylor Vancil managed to snuff out the danger. Angie Kerr tried to open the scoring in the 24th minute with a low strike outside the box but Vancil spotted the attempt and cradled the ball. Shortly after, Shim would find space directly in front of Vancil in the box but her shot on-target was directed at the keeper's midsection making for an easy save.
The opening goal of the night came from a corner kick awarded to Chicago in the 35th minute. Red Stars defender Michelle Wenino earned her first assist of the season as she headed the ball into the box for Bywaters, who was waiting by the post. Bywaters buried the ball beyond the reach of Portland's debut keeper Lewis.
Portland's offense was non-existent in the second half with few players from the midfield on wards not taking the risk to test the back line with speedy runs or opportunistic strikes from a distance. These duties usually fall to Morgan and Sinclair. The Canadian striker would usually create set pieces to link up with Shim or Morgan but this creativity was absent.
Marian Dougherty had a golden opportunity to equalize but she didn't put enough force behind the ball allowing a Chicago defender to clear the danger out of the six-yard box. Portland was unraveling in the second half as they could not contain their frustration at trailing 1-0 to Chicago. Becky Edwards, Jazmyne Avant and Angie Kerr committed fouls 20 minutes into the second half as Chicago maintained possession frequently in the closing half.
In the 60th minute, Portland conceded their second goal of the night and a first in the season. Jacqueline Santacaterina's goal was a byproduct of poor defense from Portland. Santacaterina was open near the side post when she received a cross into the box and effortlessly chipped it into the net. For the first time this season, Chicago led by two goals without conceding.
Portland pushed to get back into the game, but never came particularly close as Chicago held on for an impressive win.