The Houston Dash played to a 0-0 draw on a warm, muggy afternoon at the Village of Lisle Benedictine University Campus just outside Chicago in their third meeting of the year with the Red Stars.
It was Houston's first scoreless match in franchise history and kept their inaugural season playoff hopes alive.
Houston (5-10-3, 18 points) dominated the ball possession much of the first half but it was the Red Stars who had the best scoring opportunities. Just seven minutes into the game Chicago forward Christen press ripped a shot from 20 yards that Dash keeper Erin McLeod stopped to keep the game tied. In the 38th minute, Chicago had their best opportunity f the opening half as midfielder Zakyla ByWaters service into the box found Van Egmonds who tipped it wide from five yards out.
Last week it was Houston defender Marissa Diggs scoring first career goal and this week it was Diggs shutting down forward Christen Press. Press had her best chance of the night in as she charged into the box in the closing minute of the first half before Diggs tracked her down and thwarted the attack.
" Defensively, I was pleased with our performance," said head coach Randy Waldrum following the team's second consecutive draw. :Diggs and McLeod were outstanding. I thought (Kelly) McFarlane and Rafa (Souza) were good as young players too."
The roles reversed in the second half as the Red Stars went on the offensive. Twenty minutes in, Press found Julie Johnston racing into the box and Johnston's subsequent service from the endline was deflected away by McLeod directly to Bywaters whose shot was smother by the Dash keeper.
Just moments earlier, Houston had nearly broken the deadline as defender Stephanie Ochs delivered a free kick from 20 yards that appeared to be dipping under the crossbar when Chicago goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc's acrobatic save tipped it over the crossbar.
McLeod denied Chicago a goal in the 75th minute as she swatted away a header from Red Stars defender Abby Erceg directly in front of the goal six yards out.
Chicago saved its best chance though for stoppage time. With one minute gone in extra time Press delivered a right footed blast from just outside the box that clanged straight down off the underside of the cross bar before spinning harmlessly back into the field of play.
The draw pulled Chicago (7-6-7, 28 points) into a a tie for the fourth and final playoff spot with the Washington Spirit in the NWSL standings. Houston remains ten points back with five games remaining.
"We needed three points today but we're improving," continued Waldrum. "We were losinf these types of games earlier in the season and now we are starting to get points out of them."
The Dash return to BBVA for a mid-week match with NWSL leading Seattle Reign FC on Wednesday evening July 30, 2014 in an 8:00 p.m. CDT match.