Spirit and Red Stars split points in a 1-1 draw
Ordega scores for the Spirit, Mautz converts for the Red Stars
The Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars each earned a point in Week 5. (Photo credit: Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com)
The Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars each earned a point in Week 5. (Photo credit: Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com)

The Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars played to a 1-1 draw at Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Maryland in front of 3,448 fans in Week 5 NWSL play.

The Spirit got on the board first with forward Francisca Ordega finishing her third goal in as many weeks. Ordega’s finish came in the fourth minute of play off of a Mallory Pugh cross. Chicago’s equalizer came in the 20th minute of play thanks to forward Alyssa Mautz. Mautz’s finish came after Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe made a big save on a Samantha Kerr shot and the deflection connected with Mautz’s foot for the goal to level the scoreboard. The Spirit improve to 1-2-2 in league play and the Red Stars enter Week 6 at 2-1-3.

2017 NWSL MVP Kerr made her 2018 debut for the Red Stars on Saturday night, finishing the game with six total shots. Kerr made her return to NWSL play after spending the beginning of the season on international duty with Australia. While Kerr wasn’t able to get one in for her return, the forward scored 17 goals in 2017 and was in the right spot on more occasions than not Saturday night. Red Stars midfielder Julie Ertz also made her 2018 NWSL debut when she subbed into the game in the 74th minute. Ertz missed the beginning of the season with a right knee sprain.

The Spirit took the lead early thanks to Pugh doing what she does best and taking the ball down the right flank with pace. Pugh whipped a cross into the box and Ordega who was crashing into the box was able to tap one past Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher for the 1-0 lead. This was Ordega’s third goal of the year, and Pugh earned the assist on the night.

Pugh finished the game with five total crosses and took one shot on target in the draw.

The Red Stars equalized in the 20th minute off of a play that looked like it would be Kerr’s welcome back finish. But Spirit goalkeeper Bledsoe stopped Kerr’s shot and Mautz collected the ball after Bledsoe deflected it to put it away and level the game at 1-1.

This was Mautz’s third goal of the season. She scored a brace against Portland in Week 2 action.

After the game was all even in Maryland, the action only grew in the first half.

Just two minutes after Mautz’s goal, Red Stars defender Arin Gilliland sent a service into the box from the left side and Kerr was just on the cusp of her first of the year, yet again, but the Spirit defense made a big clearance to keep the game all tied up.

In the 41st minute Red Stars midfielder Danielle Colaprico took a corner kick that connected to defender Samantha Johnson’s head. Johnson jumped up for a flick-header and Bledsoe came up with a huge stop tipping it out wide. In the 43rd minute Bledsoe came through again for her team keeping it even before the break.

Bledsoe has a league-leading 29 saves on the year and picked up Week 4 Save of the Week honors for stopping Portland Thorns FC midfielder Lindsey Horan’s penalty kick.

The Spirit came up with another huge stop on the night, this time from defender Taylor Smith in added time at the 45th minute mark. Kerr had another look on goal but decided to play a dangerous ball across the box to midfielder Sofia Huerta who was crashing far post. Smith read the play and made a kick-save on Huerta’s shot.

The second half rolled on and both sides struggled to convert for the go-ahead goal. The Red Stars held the advantage in possession for both halves — 54.6% to the Spirit’s 45.4%. The Red Stars saw more chances from Kerr — but Bledsoe and her backline held strong on the night. Ertz made her debut this season when she subbed in for Nikki Stanton in the 74th minute. Ertz took 10 touches and got one shot off.

Naeher finished the game with two saves to Bledsoe’s three. The Spirit will travel to Rio Tinto in Week 6 to play Utah Royals FC on Saturday and the Red Stars will host the Orlando Pride at home for a midweek match on Wednesday.

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