Sydney Leroux found a slight window of space outside the box, turned and unleashed a wondrous shot from 20 yards that dipped just under the crossbar. The Reign FC forward ran toward midfield and punctuated the air with a fist pump.
The goal was both a personal and team triumph, as Leroux’s shot put Seattle ahead for the first time Saturday evening in a game the Reign would eventually win 3-1 at Memorial Stadium.
“I feel like I hadn’t really been myself, and today I felt more like Sydney,” said the normally dynamic forward, who had scored just one goal entering the contest. “Sometimes you feel off. I’m not going to feel like myself if I’m not scoring goals because I feel like that is my job.”
Coach Laura Harvey said: “She’s been really down on herself about not scoring, but I thought her overall game tonight was really good. … For me, it’s not all about what she does in terms of goals, it’s what she brings to the game. Tonight, I think we saw the real Sydney Leroux.”
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Leroux, who will join the U.S. national team for two games against France, gave Seattle (9-0-2) a 2-1 lead in the 68th minute and helped run the team’s unbeaten streak to 11 games — the longest in the two-year history of the NWSL — and stay atop the league standings with 29 points.
The win came after the Reign conceded a goal first for the fourth straight game. After a physical first half that saw no goals, the Red Stars started the scoring in the 63rd minute when Emily Van Egmond headed a volley inside the left crossbar from point-blank range.
The Reign evened the score in the 65th minute after Bev Goebel was fouled in the box. Kim Little finished the penalty kick for her league-leading 10th goal. Little added another penalty kick in the 77th minute after Leroux was knocked down in the box.
It was the first time this season Chicago (6-4-1) allowed more than one goal.
Seattle plays at Boston on Thursday.