Sarah Hagen nodded past her own keeper in the first half, before another Julie Ertz goal secured the 2-0 shutout victory at home for the Red Stars.
After losing 2-0 to the Dash on opening weekend, it was clear from the start that the Red Stars desperately wanted to make up for that match. Their first chance came as early as the fifth minute when Houston’s Janine Beckie was too casual with a backpass, and Vanessa DiBernardo picked it up and played Ertz through on goal - but her left-footed shot was just off the mark.
This was a sign of things to come, and just nine minutes later the Red Stars had another good attacking move, but this time Sofia Huerta was upended by Bruna just on the corner of the box. The Brazilian defender was shown a yellow card, although the resulting free-kick came to nothing.
Chicago were certainly piling on the pressure as both DiBernardo and Christen Press had shots blocked, but they were struggling to find the finishing touch. Houston nearly took a shock lead when Ertz was dispossessed in midfield and Kealia Ohai found herself running at goal, but after drifting past Sam Johnson she hit her shot straight at Alyssa Naeher.
Just when it looked like the half was going to end scoreless, the Red Stars took the lead through the unlikeliest of sources. After being fouled by Denise O’Sullivan, Danielle Colaprico picked herself up to deliver a swerving ball into the six-yard box, and confusion between Bruna and Hagen saw the latter inadvertently head the ball past the helpless Lydia Williams in goal.
No change second half
Houston came into the second half searching for the equaliser and they nearly got it in the 50th minute when substitute Nichelle Prince found Ohai on the edge of the area, but the forward took too many touches, and her eventual shot went well wide from an awkward angle.
The match remained finely poised until the hour mark, when Julie Ertz dealt the killer blow. Right-back Arin Gilliland fought to keep a ball alive down the wing and play in Press. Press’ cross was redirected right into the path of Ertz by Colaprico, and the USWNT star smashed the ball into the back of the net with her right foot for her second goal in four games.
The 72nd minute saw the introduction of Morgan Brian for the Dash, after the midfielder had spent time out with an MCL injury. Her side were able to create two chances after this, as a Beckie shot/cross landed on the top of the net, and Rachel Daly couldn’t keep an effort down as she ran onto a pass from Brian herself.
This was all the Dash really had to offer, and the Red Stars comfortably saw out the shutout.
Dash off the pace
It certainly wasn’t a world-beating performance from Chicago, but they did enough to beat a Houston side who seemed laboured in both offence and defence. They allowed the Red Stars too much time on the ball, and were eventually punished.