Chicago Red Stars edge OL Reign in penalty shootout to advance to NWSL Challenge Cup semifinals

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The Chicago Red Stars are moving on to the semifinals in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. The Red Stars beat OL Reign on penalty kicks, 4-3, after the two sides played a scoreless draw in Saturday night's quarterfinal. The sixth-seeded Red Stars converted on every penalty kick they took and advance to face Sky Blue FC in the semifinals.

Both teams had chances in regulation, and they combined for 25 shots (15 for OL Reign, 10 for the Red Stars). But nobody found the back of the net during the 90 minutes, and the Reign missed a pair of their kicks in the shootout to give Chicago the win.

It was the third consecutive Challenge Cup game to go to penalties after 90 scoreless minutes, and the Portland Thorns were the only team to score a goal in the quarterfinals. The Thorns will face the Houston Dash in the other semifinal.

The semifinals -- which feature three of the four lowest-seeded teams in the knockout stage -- kick off Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium, and a Challenge Cup champion will be crowned next Sunday. Every game of the 2020 Challenge Cup can be streamed on CBS All Access.

Reign 0, Red Stars 0 (Red Stars advance, 4-3, on PKs)

Takeaways

OL Reign: Led by new head coach Farid Benstiti, OL Reign started off their tournament with a slower, more methodical build, choosing to grow into their possession-based style of play. They came away with one group win, one goal scored over four games, and a strong performance in their final match against Portland Thorns FC. That final match and the quarterfinal saw the return of players like Jess Fishlock and Sofia Huerta. Both players started and caused problems against Chicago during the quarterfinal. OL Reign would see much of the possession (56.7 percent), and with that came more shots, with six being on target. Despite the effort to turn a corner in front of goal tonight, OL Reign came up short and is going home.

Chicago Red Stars: Head coach Rory Dames and his club entered the knockout stage with one group win and two goals over the preliminary rounds, neither of which were scored by actual forwards. The Red Stars were without midfielder Morgan Gautrat, Yuki Nagasato, and Tierna Davidson on Saturday, but started out their quarterfinal with good pressure and opportunity on goal. But the scoring woes continued for the team throughout the match. The Red Stars were hurt by a disjointed disconnect between the striking core, with Kealia Watt having the best forward performance in front of goal for Chicago during the match. A strong showing for the team in its execution of penalty kicks, but Chicago will need more to win the cup. 

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